HicksBiz Blog

Category: Around town

Around town

The Spotlight Cabaret opens a new chapter in YEG live entertainment - REVIEW/FEATURE by GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com

Legends of Music Spotlight Cabaret, second floor, 8217-104 St. Spotlight.ca 780.760.0202 Wed. Thurs. Sat. Sun. 6 p.m. Show and four-course dinner, $50  (Saturdays, $75) Feature/review by GRAHAM HICKS, hicksbiz.com (Other productions currently at Spotlight:  Duelling Piano Party, Fridays - $45 with light dinner; Tuesdays through November, 7:30 p.m.,  Atomic Improv Filmfest ($7);  Saturday brunch, Christmas season, Wonderful Christmas Carol: A Pantomime Radio Play;  various evenings after 10 p.m. , no cover, Laugh Track, Karaoke, Bourbon & Burlesque. ) Edmonton knows all about dinner theatre -  The Mayfield Dinner Theatre has been with us for some 45 years, Jubilations Dinner Theatre in West Edmonton Mall for decades. Dinner cabaret, being brilliantly executed in Old Strathcona’s beautiful, still-new Spotlight Cabaret, is a different kettle of fish. Dinner cabaret is more nightclub-like, more intimate than dinner theatre. It starts earlier, lasts longer, morp ... Read the rest of entry »

Get Ready to Rock! The Mayfield Dinner Theatre heads into a season of musicals - By GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com

I don’t think I’d want to be in Van Wilmott’s shoes. Not that it isn’t fun, being the artistic director of Edmonton’s Mayfield Dinner Theatre. But there’s pressure. He’s gotta make money! In commercial theatre, there ain’t no government grants/Canada Council/Alberta Foundation for the Arts. If Wilmott’s shows didn't make money or at least break even, his corporate masters – the owners of the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel West Edmonton - would close the theatre which is in the hotel. If his shows don’t bring in the crowds, there’s nobody to buy the theatre’s buffet dinner or bottles of wine, no out-of-towners to stay at the hotel after the show. And each show, with an eight-to-nine week run, has about 25,000 dinner theatre tickets up for sale. With five shows in the season, that's 125,000 tickets to sell! And when you have to sell that many tickets, you simply cannot take risks.  “Each show HAS to be successful,&rdqu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's eyelash queen By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 17, 2019

SugarlashPRO founder Courtney Buhler poses in Sugarlash's soon-to-open headquarters on Whyte Avenue. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Name the Edmonton cosmetics company, that, in 10 years, has gone from a home-based business to a global eyelash company, with 35 staff and expected 2019 revenues of  $18 to $20 million? Stumped? Of course! But all will soon change. Courtney Buhler’s SugarlashPRO will be a local household name once the company unveils its storefront world headquarters, now under construction at Whyte Avenue and 108 Street, in the former BMO bank building. Courtney’s is a remarkable story of determination and perseverance, of sensing an opportunity, overcoming obstacles, taking on major financial risk … and winning. She started as a broke, 20-year-old single mom. Today she is only 30, with two more kids and a most supportive husband. Dustin Buhler formerly handled SugarlashPRO's logistics. Courtney and SugarlashPRO are proof positive that E ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Turkish wine and food an unexpected delight By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, May 14, 2019

Sofra's roasted Turkish-style lamb chops, duck breast and tenderloin are simply fabulous. Graham Hicks/Edmonton SunEdmonton Sofra Authentic Turkish Cuisine 10345 106 St. NW 780-423-3044 Facebook No listed delivery service Tues. to Sun. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Monday Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience:  4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding tip, taxes or beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $90 By GRAHAM HICKS Turkish food in Edmonton does not get the respect it deserves. Here’s a culture, an ancient civilization that cradled the Greeks and the Romans. It’s among the world’s most moderate Muslim nations … with a food pallet as attuned to western meat ‘n’ potatoes as anything in Greece and Central Europe. Another interesting anomaly: Turkey’s geographical location and terrain would suggest the country ought to be a major producer of wine. Turkey is all about grapes, not wine. Grapes as a fruit, dried grapes as raisins, distilled gra ... Read the rest of entry »

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 »

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 »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Downtown Dining Week offers a taste of Edmonton's core By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN March 13, 2018

Despite downtown parking regulations more complex than a Rubik’s Cube, I still recommend lunch or dinner this week at just about all (decent) downtown restaurants through Sunday, March 18. It’s the 15th annual Downtown Dining Week, produced by the Downtown Business Association. Cheap eats! Champagne at beer prices! At the very least, you’ll save 10% to 20% over regular a-la-carte prices, often more. After 15 years, most of the bugs have been worked out on this special offer. It’s designed to entice you back to the downtown to experience Edmonton’s terrific restaurant renaissance, a renaissance that is being recognized across Canada. Too bad downtown parking is so expensive and so sparse – see below. Each of the 37 participating restaurants can mix and match from three categories — $18 mostly two-course lunches, $30 for mostly-three course dinners, or $45 “executive dinners” on offer at the top-end eateries such as The Harvest Room, Hardware ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Montana’s BBQ & Bar offers tasty food in comfy confines by GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, March 6, 2018

Montana’s BBQ & Bar 10330 G.A. MacDonald Ave. (Calgary Trail south of Whitemud Drive) Six other Montana’s locations in Greater Edmonton 780-434-2886 Sunday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Dinner for two, not including tip, tax or beverage:  Basic, $30; loaded, $50 Food – 4 of 5 Suns Ambience – 4 of 5 Suns Service – 3.5 of 5 Suns Edmonton hard-core foodies, this Weekly Dish review is not for you. Montana’s BBQ & Bar has close to 100 locations across Canada, seven in Greater Edmonton alone. Executive chefs do not create specialty dishes on location – line cooks make the same ribs and wings and fries in every single Montana’s. Montana’s market is about moms ‘n’ dads ‘n’ kids going out without dressing up, about ball caps and pick-up trucks and team gatherings after the game. Montana’s competition isn’t the fancy-schmancy downtown restaurants.  It&r ... Read the rest of entry »

Magical, musical mayhem - The Citadel's Mamma Mia hits all the right notes: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Mamma Mia! Citadel Theatre, Maclab Stage Edmonton, Alberta, Canada February 17 to March 18, 2018 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com Mamma Mia, the biggest “jukebox musical” of them all, made its West End debut in 1999. Nineteen years later, the show built around the legendary pop songs of ABBA is still so popular that the Citadel Theatre’s excellent production of the same is pretty well guaranteed to sell most of the seats available for its four-week run, February 17 to March 18, 2018. The show is 19 years old! Jukebox musical is a term for a musical stage production built around the songs of a singer or a band.  Musicals have been constructed around the music of Queen, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, more recently Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Jersey Boys) and Carole King. But Mamma Mia continues to tower over all the other jukebox musicals ever created. Why? Because there’s as much art, to paraphrase the late, great Edmonton Sun entertainment writer Dave B ... Read the rest of entry »

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - what a fun show!!!! Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown Plain Jane Theatre/Varscona Theatre Ensemble Varscona Theatre, 10329 83 Ave. February 15 to 24, 2018 Tues – Sat, 7:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Sat. Tickets: varsconatheatre.com Review by Graham Hicks, HicksBiz.com Hilarious! Caroming! Intelligent! Witty! What other adjectives can I use to entice you to make the effort to get out on a cold February day to catch a wonderful piece of theatre happening until Feb. 24, 2018 at the Varscona Theatre. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown has EVERYTHING going for it!    An excellent script done with Latino/Iberian flair, great songs, eight fine comedic actors all with excellent voices, a cracker-jack live band on stage, wonderful colours and costumes, and, overall, a fine zaniness that so many shows attempt, but few pull off with such aplomb. Women on the Verge is a superior farce – far more intelligent than most:  One man with not one, not two, but three entangled r ... Read the rest of entry »
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