HicksBiz Blog

Peter and The Starcatcher at the Citadel Theatre: Give me time to laugh! Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS

Peter and the Starcatcher Citadel Theatre, Maclab Stage, Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA April 1 – 23, 2017 Tickets - $30 and up Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com Call it a qualified success. The Citadel Theatre’s version of the 2012 Broadway hit Peter and the Starcatcher is full of fun, friendliness, theatrical invention, imagination, silly puns, song, dance, vaudeville, panto, slapstick and so on. But the show – based on a book that is another author’s prequel to the classic Peter Pan – is just too frantic, trying just too darned hard to squeeze a monster into a mere two hours. The 14 actors each have a main character, and they all perform multiple other characters. The show dashes from scene to scene – in the first half, on board the two sailing ships the H.M.S. Neverland and H.M.S. Wasp somewhere in the late 19th Century when Britannia ruled the waves, in the second half on the mythical island that will become Neverland. The theatrical challenge is a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Grandin Fish 'N' Chips - Fish ’n’ chips done right BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 05, 2017

Grandin Fish ‘N’ Chips 9902 109 St. 780-250-3474 Grandinfish.ca 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday No reservations Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 stars Plenty of fast food outlets offer fish ’n’ chips, but the batter usually drips oil like a rusting car, the fish is mushy, the French fries from a bag and the ambience as charming as an aging fastfood court. In the years I’ve called Edmonton home, only once have I experienced the very best of fish ’n’ chips, being a special-of-the-day at Beaumont’s charming Franco-Albertan Chartier restaurant. Until now: With the opening of the Grandin Fish ’n’ Chips shop on 109 Street just north of the High Level Bridge, a glorious new era of fish ’n’ chips has dawned. The new shop is clean, sunny and well-ventilated, with some 40 seats. The decoration and décor is whimsical and appropriately Maritime themed. The open kitchen is superb. It&rs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Plan to End Homelessness a Success BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 31, 2017

Whichever way you look at it – financial, moral, compassionate – the city-led, mostly provincially funded 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness launched by then-Mayor Steve Mandel in 2009 has been a success. You can look at numbers until your brain is spinning, but a few big ones stand out. Since 2009, Homeward Trust – the umbrella organization coordinating housing and social programs in Edmonton for the homeless – says 6,000 formerly homeless individuals have been housed. Two-thirds of those helped were considered to be chronically without shelter. The annual 2016 Homeless Count – the best measurement available – was 1,752 people. The 2014 count was about 2,170. The count in 2008 was about 2,500. Had no action been taken, the 2009 report suggests the homeless count could have jumped to 8,500 by 2018. Many tax dollars have been spent on this effort. Homeward Trust’s 2015 budget was $44.6 million for building new housing units, rent subsidies and social progr ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Vivo Restorante Downtown - Sleek, spacious, and recommended BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 2017

Vivo Ristorante Downtown 10505-106 St. 587-525-7500 vivoristorante.ca 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week  (Pizzeria and Taverna sections, 11 a.m. to late) Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars  Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $45; loaded, $120   The start was rough, but the evening proved enchanting. An unsmiling, unwelcoming host, as charming as a James Bond villain, led us into the new Vivo Ristorante Downtown, pointed at the table we were to occupy, turned heel and left! Having settled in, I opened the menu, and just about fell off my chair. Antipastos were priced at $17 to $54, pastas at $20 to $43, entrees at $54 to $92, and veggie side dishes at $14 to $19! For a moment, we considered moving downstairs to Vivo’s Pizzeria, where a beer and a personal pizza can be had for $12. The initial “oh dear” moment didn’t last. All was made well by delightful Michelle, who, as our server, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta and Canada debt problems? Depends on who you ask BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017

A hurricane of numbers has descended upon us, as both the Alberta and federal governments announced their 2017/18 budgets in the past two weeks — i.e. their anticipated (i.e. hopeful, optimistic, ideal) spending and expected revenues for the next 12 months. I often think the parties in power simply throw out as many numbers as possible, so we will give up on trying to make sense of anything. But two numbers — two measurements — can tell us how we are doing economically as a province and as a nation. One is the gloom and doom, fiscal-conservative number — the debt-per-capita. The other is the why-worry measurement used by free-spending governments to justify their spending — the debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio. Right now, the Alberta New Democrats and the federal Liberals are tossing the province and the country into big-time debt. On a debt-per-capita basis, the numbers are terrifying. Formerly debt free (thanks to oil and gas revenues), Alberta&rs ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Baijiu - Ultra-trendy but not fantastic BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2017

Baijiu Mercer Building, 10359-104 St. 780-421-7060 Baijiuyeg.com Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Closed Sunday and Monday Reservations for large groups only Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 stars  Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip):  basic, $40; loaded, $60 Baijiu is not all it’s cracked up to be. The new, ultra-trendy restaurant-bar in the trendy Mercer Warehouse building in its ultra-trendy location (right across from Rogers Place) is definitely ultra-trendy. The ambiance is clever, and a ton of fun. I’ve heard of this narrow but spacious space described as a 1930’s style Shanghai speakeasy mixed with Southern California pastels and neon. Tables are squeezed down one side with cheek-by-jowl seating. Across the aisle is one of the longest sit-down bar counters in the city. Like Michael Maxxis’s Old Strathcona Have Mercy and El Cortez restaurant bars, Baijiu’ ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: CRNL deal with Shell a good thing BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2017

All eyes are focused on the Alberta 2017/18 provincial budget – the spending side of the equation. But good news is happening in the oil and gas sector – where most of the money comes from. This is a tad ironic. According to the headlines, the sky is falling on the oilsands. A few months ago, international energy giants ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips announced a $4.4-billion write-down in the value of their oilsand reserves (the value of oil still in the ground). The sky is falling! Earlier this week, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell announced it was leaving the oilsands, selling its Athabasca Oilsands (Albian) mine, the Scotford upgrader and smaller oilsands holdings to Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL) for $12.7 billion. Locally, Shell will continue to own Redwater’s Scotford refinery alongside the upgrader, and will continue to operate both plants. The sky is falling! All the world players who piled into the oilsands from 1990 to 2014 are getting out! Whoa! The write-d ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Get out to downtown dining week BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 2017

Hurry, hurry, Downtown Dining Week ends at the close of business this coming Sunday. If you don’t get a reservation as soon as possible, you may find yourself shut out. The event – superbly organized by the Downtown Business Association – is the Boxing Day sale of our better downtown restaurants. Pre-set two-course lunches can be had for $15 per person, three-course dinners for $28, executive dinners for $45. Rarely can you dine so well for so little. The last time I paid $15 for a lunch at most of these places was for a starter salad with water! Downtown Dining Week is a public-relations exercise that helps fill these downtown restaurants during a slow time of the year. In the tight margins of the food & beverage game, nobody makes money at these prices. But the exposure works, otherwise 33 (out of a possible 47 restaurants by my reckoning) would not participate – and most have come back for years and years. There’s discernment at work here. Within their ow ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Looking forward to the Indigenous People’s Experience BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017

My wife and I are off to Winnipeg for a few days this summer. We’ll visit relatives and see the city. But our primary motivation will be visiting the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Opened in 2014, the museum cost $350 million. It is already a civic icon. Think of Winnipeg and you think of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Blue Bombers, the Jets and now the human rights museum. Maria and I will spend about $1,000 on airfare, accommodations, meals, getting around and admissions. Winnipeg Tourism will love us – proof tourist dollars are flowing into Winnipeg thanks to the museum. That’s why I am so excited, in so many ways, about the now fully-funded $42 million Indigenous People’s Experience exhibit to be built at Fort Edmonton Park. The exhibit will be the crown jewel of a $150-million upgrade (a three-way split between the Edmonton, Alberta and federal governments) to our top historical attraction. Fort Edmonton’s aging utilities will be overhauled and other inter ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Bundok top-notch comfort food BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MARCH 07, 2017

Bundok 10228 104 St. 780-420-019 Bundokyeg.com Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight Closed Sunday and Monday Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 stars Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): basic, $40; loaded, $80  Bundok is misleading. The name of Edmonton’s latest downtown, chef-as-chief-attraction bistro sounds very Asian. Indeed, it means ‘mountain’ in Filipino. Bundok owner and chef Ryan Hotchkiss will likely play with Oriental flavours in the future, depending on the season. But for its wintery opening months, Bundok’s menu is all about French-inspired comfort foods, not rice and soy. Delicious, top-notch comfort food it is. The subtle, soft hand of a culinary master is at work. A relationship exists between all 12 starter/sharing small plates ($4 to $9) and the four entrees ($18 to $28, with a striploin at $38), a similarit ... Read the rest of entry »
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