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Category: arts reviews

arts reviews

Darrin Hagen's best work to date: Review of The Empress & The Prime Minister at Theatre Network by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com

The Empress & The Prime Minister World Premiere – written and starring Darrin Hagen Theatre Network, 8529 103 St. April 16 to May 5, 2019 Tues. to Sat.  8 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. Dark on Mondays. Tickets online: $15 to $30, theatrenetwork.ca Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com One of the loftier goals of the performing arts,  as in every theatrical mission statement ever issued, is to present the world around us in a new light, to inform meaningful change, to challenge the audience to re-think attitudes, to push that audience off default positions. A fine goal indeed. But one rarely achieved – especially when causes woodenly and nakedly masquerade as characters. So hats off and a deep bow to Darrin Hagen who has written and stars in The Empress & The Prime Minister. I found The Empress & The Prime Minister seismic.  I left the show with a deeper, visceral understanding of what being “different” actually means – when just being yourself ... Read the rest of entry »

These Nuns Can Rock! Review of Sister Act, Mayfield Dinner Theatre by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.ca

Sister Act Mayfield Dinner Theatre (Doubletree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton) 16615 109 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tickets: mayfieldtheatre.ca,  or 780.483.4051 April 9 to June 9, 2019 Review by GRAHAM HICKS  Hicksbiz.com How satisfying, and rare, to have a full-on, no-holds-barred musical - a full 10-person choir, seven supporting musical actors, a five-person band, 11 backstage designers/technicians  - on a stage outside of the Jubilee Auditorium. Sister Act has to be one of the most ambitious shows mounted at the mid-sized Mayfield Dinner Theatre in recent years – at least since 2014’s Hairspray. Thanks to Whoopi Goldberg’s runaway hit movie by the same name in 1992, the plot is well known -  a mobster’s nightclub-singer ex-girlfriend is hidden by police in a Catholic church/convent, where she proceeds to turn the God-awful choir of nuns into the hottest gospel singers in the country. The “choir” within the play is the great appeal of ... Read the rest of entry »

Lard Tundering Jaysus! Come From Away is one terrific musical, eh? Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Come From Away Broadway Across Canada production Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Tuesday, March 12 to Sunday, March 17, 2019 Tickets $60 to $250 Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com Lard Tunderin Jaysus, there’s a million reasons to shell out for this gem of a show, which, somewhat ironically, is a major Broadway hit and now touring its way across Canada, in Edmonton at the Jubilee Auditorium from March 12 to 17. It’s achingly real. None of the righteousness/indignation/angst of the chattering classes infects this show. Come From Away is about real, every-day people in  the small town (population, about 10,000) of Gander, Newfoundland, whose lives are turned upside down for three to four days. Thirty-eight jets carrying some 7,000 passengers from every part of the globe had to land at the Gander airport, having been ordered out of the air  following the airborne terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Centre towers.   Why Gander? Because it had ... Read the rest of entry »

Lend Me A Tenor at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre: The Funniest Show of the Year! Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com

Lend Me A Tenor: Funniest show of the year! Lend Me A Tenor Mayfield Dinner Theatre, 16615-109 Ave. (Doubletree by Hilton West Edmonton) Tickets: mayfieldtheatre.ca February 5 – March 31, 2019 Review by  GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com For reasons known only to the deeper realms of our collective psyches, zany theatrical comedies seem to be the perfect ticket to keep one’s spirits up during the relentless three-month grind that is our deep Canadian prairie winter. Which is why the selection (and execution) of Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me A Tenor is inspirational, the perfect choice by Mayfield Dinner Theatre Artistic Director Van Wilmott for the late-winter cycle of the dinner theatre’s 2018/19 season. A bellyful of uproarious laughs, on top of the dinner theatre’s famous roast beef, well-prepared potatoes, parsnips and carrots, Caesar salad  and too-many dessert pastries; Lend Me A Tenor is a perfect tonic with which to head out, once more dear friends, into the frozen br ... Read the rest of entry »

Canada 151 at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre - A revue of all things Canadian, eh? Review by GRAHAM HICKS

The best Christmas party in town won’t be a one-night affair.

In fact, you’ll have 80-odd chances to enjoy the enormous musical fun of Canada 151, the Mayfield Dinner Theatre’s Christmas show, with eight shows a week through January 27, 2019.


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The Mayfield Dinner Theatre's Two Good Knights, The Music of Sir Tom Jones and Sir Elton John: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

 Two Good Knights: the music of Sir Tom Jones & Sir Elton John Review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com Mayfield Dinner Theatre Edmonton, Alberta, Canada September 4 to October 28, 2018 Tickets: 780-483-4015  or mayfieldtheatre.ca Written by Will Marks, staged by Dave Horak, music direction by Van Wilmott, choreography by Christine Bandelow There’s a fledgling Motown Productions in town, a minor Tin Pan Alley, a writing/producing/directing all-in-one production house. It’s composed of four artistic types with a keen awareness of the need to sell tickets at the Mayfield Dinner Theatre  - musical director and overall Mayfield Dinner Theatre artistic director Van Wilmott, stage director Dave Horak, choreographer/singer Christine Bandelow, and the very low-key Will Marks as writer (a pseudonym I swear – despite his penning/compiling many Mayfield shows, nobody seems to know who Will Marks actually is). This team takes stock of its audience – basically 50+ folk ... Read the rest of entry »

Fringe 2018 - hold-over reviews: Sweet irony from Teatro La Quindicina's A Lesson in Brio

A Lesson in Brio Written and directed by Stewart Lemoine Teatro La Quindicina Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival 2018,  hold-over last show, Sat. Sept. 1., 2018 Varscona Theatre, 10329-83 Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 4.5 of 5 stars Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com Teatro La Quindicina’s A Lesson in Brio (vitality, vigor, life, liveliness, animation, vivacity, spirit, spiritedness, etc.) is full of sweet irony, humourous manipulation of theatrical devices and positive thinking, darn it! As always from the ever-flowing pen of Edmonton playwright Stewart Lemoine, there is a quirky, imaginative plot, gentle but deliberately contradictory themes, pathos … and a great deal of humour, in this play as much aural as visual. Jenny McKillop steps on stage as Dr. Guinevere, with her PhD in the study of brio, which, in jocular lecturing style, she proceeds to define. As might be expected in a Lemoine play, Dr. Guinevere then steps into the developing play as a character, having alre ... Read the rest of entry »

Edmonton Fringe 2018 - reviews: Jem Rolls' I Idiot gives hope to the English language - review by GRAHAM HICKS

I, Idiot – Jem Rolls Edmonton International Fringe Festival Stage 13, Old Strathcona Public Library 4 of 5 stars Last show:  Sat. Aug. 25. 4:45 pm. 60 minutes Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com The English language has taken a beating these last few decades. English literature – the great classics of the language – are skipped over in school.  Teachers no longer know the rules of English grammar and composition. In fact, they are now a second or third generation of fuzzy generalists when it comes to the teaching of English (as a small part of social studies;  political correctness is given far more weight). None of them studied Latin, the language that explains grammar so well.  At the hundreds upon hundreds of shows at the Edmonton Fringe, theatre that leaves you delighted with the language – unless it’s true-to-the-original of Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, James Joyce or Shakespeare – are near non-existent.  Shows that use f* ... Read the rest of entry »

Oscar would approve: Teatro La Quindicina's production of The Importance of Being Earnest - review by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com

The Importance of Being Earnest Teatro La Quindicina production at The Varscona Theatre Edmonton, Alberta, Canada July 12 to 28, 2018 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com Watching The Importance of Being Earnest, Irish playwright Oscar Wilde’s acclaimed farce that is as robust and amusing today as  when first produced 123 years ago, is to realize this play’s seminal influence on most light-hearted humourous scripts written since it hit the stage. There is not a comedic sit-com, a crazy Mayfield Dinner Theatre farce or humourous romantic film that does not owe a debt to The Importance of Being Earnest.  Remarkably, Wilde’s play continues to be the standard-bearer of plot, of beautiful and witty language, of a comedy of manners. Over a century later, The Importance of Being Earnest does nothing but improve with age. It is so appropriate for Teatro La Quindicina to stage The Importance of Being Earnest. Teatro’s  playwright-in-residence Stewart Lemoine almo ... Read the rest of entry »

The Enduring Grandeur of Les Miserables, the musical/opera - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium July 3 to 8, 2018, review by GRAHAM HICKS

Les Miserables Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, July 3 -8, 2018 (seven shows) Tickets start at about $50 including fees/taxes Produced by Broadway Across Canada Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  Hicksbiz.com So put up your hands, if you have seen Les Miserables at least once. All of you? Not surprising.  Various editions of the touring Broadway show have visited Edmonton/Calgary in 1990, 1992, 2013, and now 2018. The 2012 movie, with Hugh Jackman in the lead role, was faithful to the script/book, and again brought this magnificent story and score to public consciousness. Put up your hands, if you’d like to see it again … and again … and again. All of you? Hardly surprising! Les Miserables is fast securing its reputation as one of the 20th Century’s most enduring operas/musical theatre. It will likely, over time, join the 20 or so shows that are the staples of the opera world. The book upon which it is based, Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, is considered one of t ... Read the rest of entry »
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