Home > Gay Vancouver News > Authors >

Posts by Mark Robins

This week in (gay) Vancouver: LGBTQ shows you don’t want to miss at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Vancouver Fringe 2014The 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival is now underway.  Here are capsule reviews of the shows with LGBTQ themes that you won’t want to miss at this year’s festival:

Ludwig & Lohengrin

Using a large white bed sheet, Rakoz dazzles us with shadow puppets and seamlessly moves from one character to the next as he tells this little known piece of Bavarian history. Never missing a beat, Rakoz manages to compress a lifetime into just sixty minutes with clarity and surprises.  Funny and poignant, this is one biography worth exploring.  Read the entire review at Vancouver Presents.

The Chariot Cities

There is so much going on in The Chariot Cities that it sometimes feels like it is going to collapse under its own weight, but this talented cast not only gives us some beautifully realized moments, it leaves us wanting more. Read the entire review at Vancouver Presents.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Spring Fling Cabaret is a showcase of local talent

Spring Fling CabaretLeaping Thespians, Vancouver’s lesbian theatre company has teamed up with ¿Por Qué No? Productions to present a Spring Fling Cabaret.

The inaugural event for ¿Por Qué No? Productions, the showcase of local talent includes original sketch comedy by the Leaping Thespians, live musical performances from Jingo and featuring Rae Clark, burlesque performances from Jenny Magenta, Tilly the Toolbox, Lace Cadet, and the debut of Mista Peach Fuzz.  Stand-up comedy is also on the marquee with Laugh Riot girl, Wanda Roberts, plus drag king performances by Cazzwell van Dyke, Lou Slips, and more.  The evening will conclude with dancing with music from DJ She.

“We believe this life is not a dress rehearsal – it is your one and only shot, so why not live it and live it joyfully,” says organizers in a release.  “We are excited to show you the amazing talents of people we know and encourage you to explore yours too.”

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Lowest Common Denominator is more than its potential controversial subject

Lowest Common DenominatorIt isn’t often a playwright will write with a specific actor in mind, but with Dave Deveau’s latest play Lowest Common Denominator it all started with a conversation at last year’s Jessie Awards.

“Deb [Williams] was sitting beside me when I won my award for My Funny Valentine last year and leaned across and whispered that she really wanted to work with me on a project,” says Deveau on a break from rehearsals.

Knowing Williams’ work, Deveau started to write, but it was well into the process before the award-winning playwright landed on the potentially controversial subject matter.

“I started thinking about what would happen if this middle-aged divorcee walked into a room and interrupted something,” says Deveau.

That “something” turned out to be Williams’ character Harmony, a middle-age divorcee, walking in on her seventeen year-old son Trevor, played by up-and-comer Dallas Sauer, kissing the man she had just been on a date with, played by veteran actor Shawn Macdonald.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Gender-bending Shakespeare’s greatest male roles

Lisa WolpeMeet the real-life Viola De Lesseps.

Forget what you might have seen in Shakespeare in Love, in early modern English theatre it was the norm for female roles to be played by young men.  Today, it is women like Lisa Wolpe, Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, who turns that notion on its head as she takes on some of the greatest male roles in the Bard’s canon.

Wolpe, who is thought to hold the record as a woman playing the greatest number of men in Shakespeare’s plays, is an actor, director, teacher, playwright and producer, in addition to her artistic director role in the all-female company that she founded in 1993.  She brings her story to Vancouver in an ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ style interview as part of a fundraiser for the upcoming Classic Chic Productions, itself all-female ensemble dedicated to performing the classics, presentation of The Winter’s Tale.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

QSONG is about creating a new generation of queer songwriters

QSONG VancouverThe Vancouver Queer Arts Festival (QAF) and QMUNITY Gab Youth are teaming up to present a songwriting workshop for queer youth and their allies.

Funded in part by the Access to Music Foundation, the 16-week songwriting workshop gives queer youth and allies of all levels of song writing experience and opportunity to develop their song writing skills.  QSONG (Queer Songwriters of a New Generation) will be led by queer singers and song writers Sarah Wheeler and Melissa Endean.

With two out of three queer students saying they feel unsafe at school and suicides seven times the national average for their age group, the statistics are overwhelming.  And it is these alarming numbers that has QAF Acting Artistic Director Rachel Iwaasa singing the praises of this workshop.

“The Arts Health Network cites research showing that participation in the arts are highly effective in reducing tension and protecting against depression,” says Iwassa. “Overall, participation in arts-based activities and in creative expression has been shown to have stronger positive benefits for health than participation in many other types of activities, including sports.”

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Peter Chu is happy to be an honorary Canuck

Peter ChuFor the amount of time dancer and choreographer Peter Chu has spent north of the 49th you would think he would just automatically get Canadian citizenship.  But while he isn’t about to give up his American passport anytime soon, he is happy to be referred to as an honorary Canuck.

“I definitely have a special affinity for Canada,” says Chu, who lists Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Vancouver-based Kidd Pivot and an upcoming third appearance at Dances for a Small Stage as highlights of his Canadian work.

But it is perhaps dancing as part of Celine Dion’s Vegas show from 2005 to 2007 that is his biggest Canadian connection, an experience he says will not soon forget.

“It was an experience of a lifetime that will stay with me forever,” says Chu from his home in Las Vegas, which perhaps ironically is now his basis of operations after having been on the move for the last five years.  “The one thing that I will always remember is how much Celine stressed the idea of family and community.  To be able to work with Celine was a great thrill; she is such a genuine person.”

Shortly after the Dion’s first Vegas showed closed, Chu found himself in Los Angeles and as a guest choreographer gigs on the last two seasons of the television reality competition, So You Think You Can Dance.  And while he isn’t sure if he will be asked back for the show’s next season, he remains excited by what a show like SYTYCD has done for dance.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

A West Side Story for a new generation

West Side Story VancouverThe current touring production of West Side Story is going for a more realistic and grittier feel.

“These days where movies are incredibly graphic and when you turn on the news and everything is so graphic and intense, it is all about being real,” explains 22 year-old Georgia native Benjiman Dallas Redding who plays Riff, the leader of the Jets gang in the national touring company production of West Side Story. “If you watch the movie, all of the Jets have nicely coiffed blonde hair and are handsome.  We literally rub dirt all over our faces”.

Helping to keep it real is choreographer Joey McKneely who called the current touring version of the 1957 musical “a West Side Story for a new generation” in a recent interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“We always have Joey there to bring us back to reality,” laughs Redding, calling it a “more grungy” approach to the characters that is reflected in the gang fights and the emotional struggles they endure in trying to find their place in the world.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Theatre review: Measure for Measure is inventive

Measure for Measure VancouverIt may not always be illuminating, but there is such talent and clarity of story in the Honest Fishmongers production of Measure for Measure it is never a ‘problem’.

The morality in 17th century Vienna has gotten a little lax, but rather than try to rein it in himself, the Duke decides to delegate that task to his underlings Angelo and Escalus.  With a puritanical hand, Angelo resurrects a previously unused law that condemns Claudio to death for getting his girlfriend pregnant.  Despite taking a moral high-ground, Angelo lusts after Claudio’s sister Isabella, trying to convince her that the only way to save her brother is to have sex with him.  But even with her brother’s life in the balance, Isabella just can’t do it.  Of course, the big ruse here is that the Duke has not actually left Vienna, and with a huge case of his own questionable morals secretly manipulates the action disguised as a Friar.

Measure for Measure is so rife with moral ambiguity that if we had not been told it takes place in 17th century Vienna, one might be forgiven in thinking that it was set in a pre-Berlusconi Italy where a little “bunga bunga” is both reviled and celebrated.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Re-discovering Judy Garland

judy-garlandVancouver drag performer Delica C. helps re-discover Judy Garland for a new generation.

A relative newcomer to Vancouver’s drag scene, 27 year-old Delica C. (aka Tristan Pearson) is about to give the performance of his career as he takes on the larger-than-life Judy Garland in a fundraiser for the frank theatre company.

“I knew her from The Wizard of Oz and from seeing her sing the duet with Barbra Streisand online, but other than that I knew very little about her,” admits Pearson who will headline the Judy & Company fundraiser on January 25.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »

Out and Proud Project showcases diversity of queer South Asians

Out and Proud VancouverA response to the recent reinstatement of colonial-era anti-homosexuality laws in India, Sher Vancouver, a social and support group for queer South Asians, has launched The Out and Proud Project.

“The members of Sher Vancouver came together to decide how to respond and how to support our brothers and sisters in India and in other parts of the world where gays and lesbians are oppressed and discriminated against,” explains Sher Vancouver founder Alex Sangha.

Designed to showcase the diversity of queer South Asians, the interviews consist of five questions that highlight the subject’s background, their coming out story, inspirations, achievements and an opportunity for the interview subjects to tell readers how they “feel the world can change for the better”.

Read More at GayVancouver.net »