HicksBiz Blog

Theatre Network’s Gordon cynically dissects a messed-up family – Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Theatre review by GRAHAM HICKS, hicksbiz.com Gordon April 25 to May 15, 2016, Theatre Network, The Roxy on Gateway, 8529 Gateway Blvd. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 8 p.m. dark Mondays running time, including intermission, 2 hours, 15 minutes Tix: Theatrenetwork.ca The very best part of Gordon, playing at Theatre Network’s temporary home on Gateway Boulevard through May 15, is the absence of sugar-coating. Playwrights usually emerge from that societal class that believes in nurture over nature, environment over jobs and mankind’s innate goodness. They tend to adapt a social worker stance when dealing with societal under-bellies. To quote West Side Story: “He ain’t a criminal, he’s just misunderstood. We ain't no delinquents, we're misunderstood. Deep down inside us there is good!” In Gordon, playwright Morris Panych will have nothing to do with ‘this boy don't need a judge, he needs an analyst's care!’ That’s why Gordon, in its unsettling way, is ... Read the rest of entry »

On Spanish wines - Baron de Ley the company, Tempranillo the grape, Rioja the region

By Graham Hicks I’m hardly a connoisseur of fine wines, having neither the palate or the pocket book to move much beyond the $25 range for a decent bottle of plonk. But over the years, I’ve extended my knowledge far enough to know what I really like, and which varietals best work for my tastes. I do know that Spanish wines from the Rioja growing region, made primarily from Tempranillo grapes, are delicious. Usually $25 or under for the “reserva”  category, i.e. in Rioja, having been aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Tempranillo reserva wines represent some of the best value to be found in Edmonton’s many liquor stores. When Sergio Soriano of the Baron de Ley Spanish wine group came through town as a guest of Nelson Gomes’ Fine Vine Imports, I didn’t pass up the chance to learn more about Spanish wines, particularly Tempranillos from Rioja, one of the two Spanish wine-growing regions that are  DOC – Denominacion de Origen Calificad ... Read the rest of entry »

The ultimate ensemble - West Side Story at the Citadel Theatre until May 22, 2016 - Review by GRAHAM HICKS

West Side Story, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada April 23 to May 22, 2016 Featuring the participants of the 2016 Citadel/Banff Centre Professional Theatre Program Review by GRAHAM HICKS, www.hicksbiz.com Eight years ago, The Citadel Theatre and the Banff Centre embarked upon a professional theatre training program for young-ish actors well into their acting careers but taking time out to refresh their skills. It’s been highly, highly successful, both for the actors and especially for Citadel Theatre audiences. Because after a month of general theatre training in Banff, the 20-or-so actors descend on Edmonton to continue their training within the context of rehearsing and performing a major show as a finale to the current Citadel Theatre’s season. I couldn’t tell you how the economics work, but the fact is with the Professional Theatre Program, the Citadel has at its disposal some 20 fine young actors, full of vim and vigour and renewed enthusiasm, with the capacit ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Little Brick Cafe and High Voltage - Hard to find but worth it BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun, FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

Little Brick Café + General Store 10004 90 St., Riverdale 780-705-1230 littlebrick.ca 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Lunch for two:  Excluding drinks and tip, basic, $20, loaded $40 High Voltage 10382-63 Ave. (corner 104 St. and 63 Ave.) 780-437-3202  Mon. to Fri., 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Sat., 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Closed Sunday Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns   There’s no character or personality on downtown Edmonton streets fronted by banks or office towers or inward-looking malls. The average suburban commercial strip — out beyond the Henday — is dullsville incarnate. So, please, raise a glass to new social entrepreneurs like the Little Brick’s Nate Box, who are as interested in community as they are in money. And may crusty old guys like Taso, who has made the best donairs and gyros on the South Side at High ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Party in power matters not BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2016

It’s not about the political party that happens to be in power. If Jim Prentice hadn’t called the Alberta election a year early, his Progressive Conservative Party would be in the same deep do-do as Rachel Notley’s New Democrats. It’s about a near unalterable reality that Albertans must face. This economic crisis isn’t going away. Global energy analysts predict world oil and gas prices will not recover for a very long time, probably decades. World-wide demand for fossil fuels is dramatically slowing. Supply just keeps on growing. There’s no way around it – Alberta’s over-all standard of living will have to drop. By how much, nobody knows. For the sake of argument, let’s say, conservatively, 10%. It matters not what party is in power. The gusher of cash from oil and gas is gone, not to return for many, many years. In Calgary, they call it the new “long low.” The marketplace, that cold-hearted beast, has already reacted, s ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cibo revisited BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun, FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 12, 2016

Cibo Bistro 11244-104 Ave. (Oliver Square), 780-757-2426 www.cibobistro.com Tues. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays Food:  4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, loaded, $120, basic, $50 Returning to a restaurant previously reviewed starts with worry. You mightily enjoyed that dinner four years ago, gave the establishment top marks. But, with so many other eateries out there worthy of attention, you have not been back. What if the eatery has gone into decline? Been sold? Changed chefs? Started to cheap out? What if the restaurant had been guilty of inconsistency, one night to the next? To report that Rosario Caputo’s Cibo Bistro in Oliver Square remains on top of its game is both satisfying and a relief. In fact, with its service much improved, I would move Cibo up a notch. With one or two more improvements in the kitchen, Cibo would be ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton Oilers, job losses and more BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, APRIL 08, 2016

A little bit of this, a little bit of that in Hicks on Biz this week – Living longer, bus depots in the middle of nowhere, cuppa coffee with the Oilers, job losses, farmland. Another minute in the spotlight Of the 133 former Oilers who gathered Wednesday to bid farewell to Rexall Place, about half the names were recognizable. The other half were here for a cuppa coffee, likely playing a few games before being sent back to the minors. Most of the guys have woulda, coulda, shoulda stories – untimely injuries, the GM didn’t like them, too many players at the position, never given a chance. Still, they made it to the Big Show, if even for a game or two, creating a treasured memory. Friends and relatives all know Joe Schmo was an Oiler for a few games. Now, thanks to this collegial gesture by Oiler management, they all enjoyed another moment of recognition.   Farewell oil-patch jobs, hello McJobs Interesting job statistics from a TD Bank study: The provincial job mark ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' weekly dish: Lemongrass Cafe simple, but good BY GRAHAM HICKS, Edmonton Sun FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, APRIL 05, 2016

Lemongrass Cafe 10417 51 Ave. 780-413-0088 Facebook   Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. noon to 10 p.m. Sun. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.    Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns   When my family is in the mood for a light, tasty, filling meal, we inevitably turn to Vietnamese cooking. It’s a gentle, delicate cuisine - less greasy than Chinese, not as spicy or sweet as Thai, less forceful than South Asian. More shy and retiring than other Asian cuisines, Vietnamese food is dependably tasty, rarely sits around in the kitchen, and usually uses the freshest of ingredients. Then there’s the famous pho soup, a meal unto itself for which every self-respecting Vietnamese restaurant has a secret family recipe. I have a mental taste-fest, just thinking about pho! Heading into the city from the Edmonton International on Saturday afternoon, the Lemongrass Café on the South Side, on 51 Ave. was calling our name - especially after a four-hour pl ... Read the rest of entry »

Citadel production of Other Desert Cities drowns in cliches

Other Desert Cities Playing at the Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta Canada April 9 to May 1, 2016 Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  hicksbiz.com In a 50th anniversary Citadel Theatre season that has exploded with so much theatrical brilliance -  Boom, Evangeline, Christmas Carol, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Alice Through the Looking-Glass and the upcoming West Side Story,  Other Desert Cities ranks as the season's only dud.  There are a handful of great American dramas dealing with family dysfunction - heck, American playwrights aren’t comfortable unless they are hurling grenades at the All-American family. But Other Desert Cities, playing at the Citadel Theatre through May 1, 2016, isn’t one of them. This is a lightweight play delusionally convinced it’s a heavyweight. Other Desert Cities has universal themes, dwelling deeply on the right, or downright need, of writers to express their beliefs and opinions no matter the emotional damage to others. It's e ... Read the rest of entry »

Ukrainian Shumka Dancers' premiere of Kobzar misses the mark, but secondary show shines

Shumka Ukrainian Dancers  Kobzar and Travelling Chumaky April 9 and 10, 2016 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Review by Graham Hicks You have to admire the restless spirit of Edmonton’s now 57-year-old Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, long considered one of the best, if not the best, Ukrainian folk-dance troupes in the world.  For its 2016 performances, sadly just two shows in the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium last Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, 2016, Shumka didn’t just go with any old world premiere – you know, hire a choreographer, find the appropriate music, and off they go. This time around, Shumka, in collaboration with leading lights of Ukrainian culture, decided to go for the Big Show -  a massive allegorical tale of the suffering and triumphs of the Ukrainian people as a whole. The music was custom written and composed by Ukrainian national artist and composer Yuri Shevchenko, recorded in Kiev with a massive choir and a 68-member orchest ... Read the rest of entry »
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