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I was “murdered” by burlesque troupe and I would happily do it again, Geekenders “We All Float Down Here”...

Burlesque, Events, Reviews

April 1, 2017

If you haven’t been attending the Geekenders 2016/2017 Season you are missing out on events that are innovative and life-changing. I was floored when I saw their stage production of The Rocky Horror Show, I could not get over how amazing Batlesque was, and I wouldn’t have thought that something could beat them but We All Float Down Here proved my happily wrong.

Our horrifying hosts for the evening were Gidget Gravedigger and Alistair Crane and they were adorable, creepy and chocked full of Sleepwalkers trivia. Their story of the evening was the unfortunate but understandable murder of Alistair by Gidget and, in a typical King plot twist, having the body buried in the Pet Cemetary, only to have him come back to life and then turn into the Night Flier, was so silly and creepy. A+.

They were helped by their stage kitties in the first half of the show, Anita Johnson and Flash LeFox. The two crept and delighted the audience as The Grady Twins from The Shining. I would also like to make special note that I really appreciated that there was recognition that Stephen King writes about disturbing things and therefore an appropriate warning was said before people got in too deep. It shows that Geekenders cares about their audiences and stays true to their mandate of being a progressive troupe of performers.

The first performance revved the engines of the audience as Trixie Hobbitses as Christine danced and murdered her way around Kitty Glitter and Seamus Fit-It-In to the perfect song, The Beatles Baby You Can Drive My Car. She delighted. She KILLED. Her use of the classic balloon pop routine was a great treat and her use of headlights was top notch.

Next up was Androsia Wilde and Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutt in a sexy homoerotic tango inspired by King’s epic The Dark Tower series. The routine turned into a violent pas de deux of fisticuffs and undressing while Short Change Hero by The Heavy.

Our first boylesque number of the night was Tylr Bourbon performing The Mist which was visceral and mesmerized the audience with the lush and disturbing images.

Fanny Oakley then gave us a sanguine belly dance sensation in her interpretation of Salem’s Lot complete with drinking blood on stage and bearing all as Take Me To Church by Hozier played.

Our first international act of the night came from a good friend of the Geekenders community who had performed in the Weird Al Burlesque: Violet DeVille, fresh from a performance date in Texas, possessed perfect comic timing in a The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill number. She made SPACE GOO even more awesome than it already was. A nice touch was using Catch A Falling Star by Perry Como and the Thunderstruck cover by Steve n’ Seagulls.

Secret Window, Secret Garden is one of my favorite King works and Ginger Femmecat and Draco-Muff-Boi’s take on it was perfection. The Nine Inch Nails song The Line Begins to Blur was the right choice for this performance and story. The visuals of Draco and Ginger transforming into each other was executed with precision and disturbing beauty.

The best part of The Shining is seeing a family descend into madness and the horror of knowing that the place that the world you live in is out to get you. Riannaconda showed us a trifecta of narratives transitioning from Wendy Torrance to Jack Torrance to the Overlook itself (complete with the iconic carpet). Also, two words… Glitter Axe.

Full disclosure: I am a Miss Dee Twenty fangirl. My opinion of her work is possibly slightly biased, but I checked with everyone else I could talk to and we were all in agreement, she is a rockstar. Her Needful Things act was a classic Miss Dee performance. Great music selection, Satan Takes A Holiday by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Artie Shaw’s Nightmare along with her trademark narrative opener tells us a story of how when you make a deal with the devil you will be exposed. The Half and Half is a classic burlesque routine and Dee does it in full.

I enjoy a good period blood joke. Most beings with uteruses know the body horror of menstruation and Carrie was a formative and terrifying story of how women are shamed for their natural body functions. Fanny Oakley’s second number of the night explored that by using a montage of images from the movie and her own dancing which beautifully crescendoed into the crowning blood red glitter bath glory.

“She can’t be dead, MISERY CHASTAIN CANNOT BE DEAD!” is how I felt at the end Seamus-Fit-It-In and Kitty Glitter’s Misery number. The glitter axe made its second appearance as the couple showed how deep their love goes for wheelchairs, torture and Kathy Bates

I love it when performers take concepts from classic burlesque and turn it on their heads. Violet DeVille’s second number of the night was a reverse tease. Drawing inspiration from Silver Bullet, a story of a small town terrorized by a werewolf, Violet came out in her wolf form and danced in a barely-there nude costume with wolf mask and tail, then slowly added human elements of dress to a cover version of Bad Moon Rising by Mourning Ritual Feat: Peter Dreimanis of July Talk. It was a well-crafted comment on how we hide the dark animal inside our selves by covering it up with what we see as civilized.

The antepenultimate act was a huge and wild ensemble piece. One of the best things about Geekenders’ shows is that you will never be disappointed in a floor show style group “everyone take off your clothes” piece, and this is no exception. Veronica Vamp led Fanny Oakley, Faye Havok, and Tylr Bourbon in the ritualistic torture of Trixie Hobbitses and Seamus Fit-It-In with Rear Admiral Siggy Starbutts reprising her roll of Death in an epic retelling of Children of the Corn. Set to Go Kindergarten by Lonely Island featuring Robin, it was spicy like the Gingers that menaced us on stage.

With the reboot of IT coming to theaters and the recent upswing of creepy clowns standing on the edges of towns with balloons, having a clown with a balloon stand in the lobby of The Rio who encourages you to take photos of them with your friends is inspired. Brandy Snifter is, in fact, one of the most inspired performers I saw that night. If you ever had a raging crush on Loonette from Big Comfy Couch, then Brandy Snifter performing to Killer Klowns by The Dickies and the Goldfinger cover of 99 Red Balloons is your dark grown-up fantasy. We were so blessed to have Brandy visit from LA, because she is an international burlesque gem.

In my family, we have a “no shower curtain when taking a bath” rule. The Shining and specifically room 237 is the horror movie incident that inspired this rule. Anita Johnson, who is a gosh darned genius, used my fear of shower curtains and bathtubs against me in her Room 237 number where she stripped off her rotting flesh to Splish Splash by Bobby Darin. Jeebus the whole thing gave me a queasy but happy feeling in my stomach.

We all Float Down Here was a freaky, creepy, scary, unnerving delight. Successfully selling out the Rio and showing the city that Horrorlesque is a viable and popular genre of burlesque. If Geekenders gets any more amazing it is going to be hard to get tickets and that means that they are going to have to get support from their fans to find larger venues to accommodate the needs of the community that adores them.

We All Float Down Here Setlist

Christine – Drive My Car by The Beatles

The Dark Tower Series – Short Change Hero by The Heavy

The Mist – Haydar by Gulcan Kaya

Salem’s Lot – Take Me To Church by Hozier

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill Catch A Falling Star by Perry Como

The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill Thunderstruck by Steve n’ Seagulls

Secret Window – The Line Begins To Blur by Nine Inch Nails

The Shining – How Deep Can I Go by Hairy Soul Man

Needful Things – Satan Takes A Holiday by Tommy Dorsey Orchestra

Needful Things – Nightmare by Artie Shaw

Carrie – Red Dress by MAGIC!

Misery – Love On The Rocks With No Ice by The Darkness

Silver Bullet – Bad Moon Rising  by Mourning Ritual Feat: Peter Dreimanis

Children of the Corn – Go Kindergarten by The Lonely Island Feat: Robyn

IT – Killer Klowns by The Dickies

IT – 99 Red Balloons by Goldfinger

Room 237/ The Shining – Diana by Paul Anka

Room 237/ The Shining – Splish Splash by Bobby Darin

Room 237/ The Shining – Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddie

Room 237/ The Shining – Charlie Big Potato by Skunk Anansie

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670

Geeks Versus Nerds Vancouver Episode 33 – Outta This World – A beautiful tribute to the ’90s and Alien...

Comedy, Events, Reviews

March 30, 2017

It was announced earlier this year that Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver will be shuttering up this year only to see the light of day once in awhile during convention season. It will be sad to see a Vancouver institute of unbridled fandoms come to an end, especially after such a solid showing from the debaters for Geeks vs Nerds episode 33 “Outta This World!”.

The night started with Sonic vs. Spawn for the best mascot of the 90’s. With time-traveling past selves, marketing executives, and even a Spice Girl sighting, it was a hard-fought battle to decide a winner. In my own flipping from side to side, I was joined by one of the debaters’ 8yr old self, presenting an interesting way to argue for your hero, by arguing for the other hero more often. The tactic worked in their favor as Team Sonic sped away with the win as the best mascot of the 90’s. The can of Sonic energy drink and dunkaroo bribes must have clinched it.

The main event was Autobots vs. Crystal Gems  for ‘Which team of aliens best defends the earth from their own kind?’  Yes, it is a mouthful. The best kind of mouthful if you are going to name a debate about teams of aliens.

The Nerd side was strong with appearances from all of Steven’s parents and creator, facing off against the Geek team of a walking encyclopedia of Transformer facts, Les Grossman, and a super fan who seemed to have all the toys. I’ll give the Geek team a mention of really knowing their facts, but the presentation of such felt like regurgitated information, especially in an entertainment debate. The toys they brought though? Fantastic. It’s hard not to cheer though when the Nerd team busts out poetry, musical numbers, and Steven himself. With thunderous applause, the Gems captured the win, and many hearts.

A great night out and a ‘fan’-tastic experience.

 

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Jalyn Euteneier is a co-founder of ZeroD20, a gaming addict, and a fan of creativity. She is a sucker for discussions of community, inclusion, and mobile games, so if you are inclined to want to talk about that, find her on Twitter @CrazeeJay

 

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882

Theater Review: Songs For A New World

Culture, Events, Reviews

March 25, 2017

Our world is an ever-changing complexity. The modern era is seeing a massive shift in paradigm as we gain access to information at a rate never seen before, and this shared information is allowing our species to evolve on a sociological level at a rate that would have been impossible even two decades prior. Capturing the consequences and feel of that shift in a two-hour musical is a damn ambitious goal and a nearly impossible task, but Songs for a New World tries and comes closer than you might think.

Playing from March 23rd through to April 1st, 2017 at the Pal Studio Theater located in Coal Harbour, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is a re-imagining of an off-broadway musical by the same name. The original was written and composed by Jason Robert Brown and was his first effort, and the Vancouver redux is the first foray done by Mary Littlejohn and Damon Jang of Fabulist Theater Productions.

The re-imagining is a series of single set-pieces that focus on disparate themes that tie together through two characters that appear only infrequently, and one is far easier to notice than the other. The entirety is minimalist, with simple costume changes, few props, and still images projected onto a floating background. The end result is individual pieces are intense but feed into a larger whole that is an emotional gut-punch, a condemnation of a dying world and a statement of hope for the one to follow.

All of the music was written twenty years ago, but the performances and terms modernize the whole and show the relevance of the stories being told. For those that worry about such things, spoilers lurk ahead. You have been warned.

The opening brings is to an airport where a soldier is looking to go to war. She is the first character we see, the one we attach ourselves to; the second is a small refugee girl, followed by a host of others. The whole cast comes and goes while singing The New World, a song about transitions and the sharp decline a life can take through unexpected events. Airports are a perfect setting for such a song, and planes have become an important symbol in our world: from the attacks on nine-eleven to the advent and invasiveness of the TSA, we are reminded that nothing is certain and nothing is stable, that the war is being fought (the soldier) but the consequences are often unintended and severe (the refugee girl).

It’s subtle, and here the story shifts from the original play dramatically. The off-Broadway show’s second song was On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492, and was about a captain praying for his crew and passengers. The ship setting remains, but the boat is now full of refugees families seeking solace from the utter destruction of their homes. The greed of a very few destabilized entire countries and ruined the lives of people by setting countries against them, and the countries that were so duped will not take responsibility. The result is destitute millions, homeless nationals that have no place to go begging for a homeland of their own. It’s a stark song and a stark set and it is insanely powerful.

The darkness of that song demands a counterbalance, and we get it in the form of Just One Step. Both original and redux feature a wealthy woman climbing onto the window ledge of a highrise in an attempt to get the attention of an absent and cheating husband. Here, this is played for laughs – the celebrity insanity and over-reaction one might expect from someone on a reality television show, where the attention is more important than the outcome. It’s sung by Charity Principe and it’s both uncomfortable and genuinely funny, a tightrope walk as perilous as stepping onto that window ledge, but handled with grace by the performer. It’s important to remember that we joke about the things we’re not comfortable discussing, and the illogical extreme emotional reactions we’re taught are real by reality television is warping and damaging entertainment.

Switching again to utter darkness, the screen above shows pictures of war-torn Somalia, a product of rampant colonialism where the result has been civil war and child soldiers. Actress Shina Lakasa comes out dressed as such a child, and her fragile voice belies a powerful presence that makes a beautiful mockery of I’m not Afraid, a song that speaks of the fears that rule other people and the chains they have wrapped around her, a realization that leads to her casting those people aside. It’s intense, stark, and mighty, a slap in the face to an audience still reeling from the emotional whiplash of prior scenes.

When the scene ends and the world fades to darkness there is a palpable sense of relief that is mangled by the appearance of homeless people. The audience was taken aback, not sure how these invisible people snuck into the theater until they are revealed to be part of the show. The song they sing, the River Won’t Flow, was originally a duet between two derelicts, but here it becomes an ensemble piece that speaks about a system that is stacked, vicious, and all-consuming. Of note is addition near the end, where a police siren sends the homeless people scattering – they know that the police are not there to serve and protect them, and the song only concludes when the police are gone.

The small refugee girl then returns to briefly steal our attention, a small moment that feels isolated and intimate. Played to vulnerable perfection by Arta Negahban, her brief but haunting memory ends and leads us into something that looks more lighthearted, at least at first.

Kate MacColl takes the stage to sing Stars and Moon. The song is about a woman set upon by three suitors and the song is improved here. The direction and performance make it clear that this is a woman torn by conflict: she is lost between what she wants and what society says she should want. She listens to society in her choice and… there’s a song called America by Simon & Garfunkel, about two lovers that train across America. It’s catchy and fun and, towards the end, there’s this aching moment of melancholy and there’s a moment here where Kate captures that exact feeling, a single moment where mirth turns to silencing heartbreak. It’s impossible to look away from, impossible to ignore.

Following this is another song that undergoes a similar journey. She Cries was initially a song a man sings about the power women have over him, but here it’s subverted. The man is a bartender giving advice to drunken fools, the idiots and pick-up artists that are as trapped by the horrid dating game as the bartender is himself. The tragedy here is a reminder that the first thing toxic masculinity asks young men is to mutilate their own emotional well-being, but the only thing ignoring emotions does is cause them to fester. It’s another powerful moment in a string of them, and singer Aerhyn Lau left the stage to thunderous applause.

The first act was not done yet, though. Viciously, brutally, a taste of the tragedy to come: Rema Kibayi rules the stage with Steamtrain. Both the original and the redux tell the story of a young man pursuing a future in basketball, taking spoken asides to tell of the hardships he’s overcome. The original played this straight, but Rema adds complexity to the song by making it clear that this is his only way out of a created hell, an impossible dream that he can achieve but will have a heavy price. He will pay it, and gladly, and his command of the song and his performance left the audience breathless and in need of the intermission that followed.

We were given fifteen minutes to catch our breath, to recover and settle.

Talk was excited, brittle, and when the lights faded the audience hushed and waited, needing whatever was to follow.

Originally, the World was Dancing was a song about a man whose father bought and lost a store, and how that made him leave his fiance. It was trite there, but here… the singer is presented as a drunken frat boy who learns that the market is not his friend, that nothing is permanent. He moves the arms of his first love to another girl and then to a man, pulled by the forces of society to marry his first love but yearning for the arms of his man he truly loves. His world falls apart and all he learns is not to trust, not in the world or the systems of that world, and the shame he feels leaves him desolate and his world broken.

After that the audience needed something light, so we’re treated to Cheryl Mullen performing Surabaya-Santa, the tale of Mrs. Clause getting ready to leave Santa. It’s cute and does what it has to do, lighten the mood of the audience, but once again there’s a subversion here: Cheryl takes the lyrics and turns them into something, a critique of codependency and the importance of being your own person in a relationship. It’s fun, but this isn’t the sort of musical that lets us have fun moments without being punished for it.

So, naturally, we get Christmas Lullaby, a song that was originally about a woman reacting to news of her pregnancy with wonder and comparing herself to the Virgin Mary. Arielle Tuliao’s performance comes from the perspective of someone utterly alone and very much pregnant, and the joy of the song turns to ash when she realizes how very much alone she is. Abandoned, homeless, her comparison to the Virgin Mary is born of pure desperation, a cry for help from a god she will never see.

The world fades to darkness. Images blaze to light: riots against police brutality, the DAPL protest, others. A single barred spotlight manifests and frames Frankie Cottrell as he sings King of the World. This is one of the play’s most powerful songs and Frankie delivers, turning the ravings of a deluded man to the warcry of an imprisoned American Dream, the very best a country has to offer locked away for fighting for the things a country was founded on and strived for. There’s a shock that runs through the crowd as they realize the full weight of what is being implied: that the American Dream itself has been locked away by the greed of the people that know ruin that nation and the people that live therein. The song offers a final note of hope, however, a slim chance for a better world to come.

I’d Give It All For You is a statement of that hope. The boy whose father bought and lost a shop searches for the man he fell in love with, the two of them both wandering the highways of their homeland in search of one another. They find one another, they love one another, and by the honesty of the search and the finding, it is implied that their lives can truly begin.

Their moment, lovely as it is, ends. The soldier from the opening scene saves a refugee and the two of them flee from unseen attackers, a brief moment that cuts and leads to another woman.

The Flagmaker was meant to be the song a woman who sits at home, weaving and holding her house together while her husband and son fight in the war. Here, the woman is fighting for herself: the song becomes a feminist anthem as images of suffragettes and feminist figures flicker on the screen behind, giving a glimpse at some of the struggles women have had to suffer to come as far as they have and reminding us all that the battle is not yet done, not for some, not until we are all equal.

For others, though… Flying Home was always a song about a dying soldier, the soldier from the beginning. She dies saving someone and her soul sings about flying home, about how her duty is over and she will know peace. The original play implied a sense of glory, but here there is none of that: war is stupid, her life was paid to sate the greed of men she will never meet, her life spent protecting the innocent lives that were ruined by those same men. It’s a powerful song and a powerful performance and it feels like this is where the play should end…

… but the refugee girl takes the stage once more. There’s a short transition at an airport, the soldier’s mother waiting for a child who will never come home and refugees seeking an echo of the home they have lost.

Hear My Song, the finale, is an echo of both the first and second songs. We return to the refugee camp where the song is a funeral dirge for everything lost and a prayer for a more compassionate future, one where they may have a home once more.

It ends. The audience stands, claps, the cast bowing to thunderous applause. There people walking out at the end look shocked, thoughtful, chattering amongst themselves. This play makes you work for answers, for meaning, and this iteration is incredibly dense. Ambitious? Yes, and all the more beautiful for it. Highest possible recommendation; if you have the chance to see this, do so.

You can learn more about Songs For A New World be clicking here, learn more about Fabulist Theater Productions by clicking here, learn more about PAL Studio Vancouver by clicking here, or purchase tickets by clicking here. Do get tickets online – the show I got to see was sold out, and the general quality of what was on stage should keep them packed for the whole of their run. Still, this is well worth seeing and those tickets are worth their weight in gold.

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559

Geeks Versus Nerds Vancouver gets Outta This World!

Events

March 20, 2017

Woooaaaahhh!!! They’re going totally outta this world and throughout time for the next episode of Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver! Check out this totally rad lineup involving some of your favourite iconic characters…

Opener: Ready for some X-TREME debate action involving some phat pop culture icons that are totally da bomb? It’s SONIC vs SPAWN – “who is the best mascot for the nineties?”

Headliner: Some assembly may be required for the following debate featuring two groups of warriors from outta this world!! It’s THE AUTOBOTS vs THE CRYSTAL GEMS – “which team of aliens best defends earth from their own kind?”

Post-debate live music: The Runaway Four are coming to rock their brand of video game medleys and promote their debut album “Chaos Theatre”. Stick around for extra entertainment and fun! Tickets can be purchased ahead of time here or at the door.

NOTE: DOORS OPEN AT 6PM, SHOW STARTS AT 7PM!! Remember to get there early to call dibs on a seat!

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As usual, there will be food and drink available, and they’ll be running our Costume Contest, Raffle, and Twitter Contest for exciting prizes!

Remember, at Geeks versus Nerds, YOU – the audience – determine the victor (so come and support your favourite team!)

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870

You’ll Take a Shining to Stephen King Burlesque at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre

Burlesque, Events

March 20, 2017

Geekenders, Vancouver’s ‘cult sensation’ (Vancity Buzz) burlesque

troupe celebrating fandom, pop culture and alternative beauty, has announced a new

burlesque spectacular celebrating the work of Stephen King.

In the past four years Geekenders shows have drawn over 40,000 audience members

to shows ranging from a musical comedy take on the Portal video games to a cabaret-
style show exploring the world of Doctor Who, as well as consistently appearing in ‘Best

Burlesque Troupe’ lists all over the city, and shut down pop culture conventions with

packed houses, and changed the face of Vancouver’s theatrical community, making

theatre and burlesque accessible to an entirely new demographic of people.

In that tradition, Geekenders’ brand new burlesque variety show, ‘We All Float Down

Here: A Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King’ at the Rio Theatre on March 25th. ‘We All

Float Down Here’ is a burlesque, dance, and comedy show celebrating the oeuvre of

Stephen King through a vaudeville lens, creating a world where the horror writer’s films

collide in a Ziegfeld Follies-style explosion of glitter and showgirls.

Featuring FIFTEEN of Vancouver’s biggest nerdlesque names!

RIANNACONDA!
REBEL VALENTINE!
JAYNE FONDUE!
FANNY OAKLEY!
VERONICA VAMP!
TRIXIE HOBBITSES!
TYLR BOURBON!
SEAMUS FIT-IT-IN!
KITTY GLITTER!
ANDROSIA WILDE!
REAR ADMIRAL ZIGGY STARBUTTS!
GINGER FEMMECAT!
DRACO MUFF-BOI!
MISS DEE TWENTY!
ANITA JOHNSON!

“We pick the things we do to coax people out to see live theatre or burlesque, people

who might not have been previously interested,” says Geekenders artistic director

Fairlith Harvey. “There’s so much to see, from body-positivity and exclusively feminist

content, to gender blind casting, LGBT-friendly shows, goofy humour, and intricate

dance routines.”

Geekenders’ production of the Vegas-style nerdlesque revue ‘We All Float Down Here:

A Burlesque Tribute to Stephen King’ runs Saturday, March 25th. Tickets are available in

advance at riotheatretickets.ca. For more information about Geekenders, visit

geekenders.ca or facebook.com/Geekenders

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