HicksBiz Blog

Category: Performing Arts

Performing Arts

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 »

This Wizard of Oz (at the Jubilee Auditorium) does justice to the legend - Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Wizard of Oz Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Tuesday, Feb. 23 – Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 8 p.m.   Sat. matinee, 2 p.m. Sun. matinee, 1 p.m., evening 6:30 p.m. Tickets $45 to $145, (plus 25% extra in facility charges and service fees) REVIEW BY GRAHAM HICKS  - Hicksbiz.com How beguiling, to see another generation of young children entranced  by the story of Dorothy and Toto and the land of Oz.  It’s been going on since Frank Baum wrote the original “American fairy tale” in 1900, through Broadway productions, silent movies, then into the stratosphere with the classic 1939 movie with the young Judy Garland – using brand-new colour technology – as Dorothy, and the movie’s subsequent re-spooling year after year on that revolutionary new social medium of the 1950s known as television. The Wizard of Oz, being performed at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium through Sunday, Feb. 28, is the latest wrinkle in the re-telling of this ... Read the rest of entry »

On Being Gay in the 21st Century: The Gay Heritage Project at the Citadel Theatre - review by Graham Hicks

The Gay Heritage Project Citadel Theatre, Club Stage Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Feb. 10 to 27, 2016 Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS, HIcksBiz.com Even  a cheerful cynic accepts that much good comes from watching shows like the Gay Heritage Project. Presented cabaret-style in the Citadel Theatre's innovative Club space, The Gay Heritage Project is an insightful, informative and entertaining look into what it's actually like to be gay.   No matter how many gay friends or acquaintances one might have, very few straight folks know that much about what's behind the curtain. The old expression "walk a mile in my shoes" comes to mind.  Three gay actors, by necessity researchers, realized precious historical or even contemporary knowledge wasn't out there about their  unique culture, their tribe.  Homosexuality has been part of mankind since the beginning of civilization, but from the fall of Rome to, finally, social acceptance in the 21st Century, little history has bee ... Read the rest of entry »

The Citadel Theatre at its best - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, review by GRAHAM HICKS

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Jan 23 to Feb. 23, 2016 Review by Graham Hicks, HicksBiz.com Written in 1962, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf sits in that pantheon of dysfunctional family dramas that poured out of American playwrights with the release of literary social taboos following World War II – Death of A Salesman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (and the rest of the Tennessee Williams canon), Dark At The Top of the Stairs, Long Day’s Journey into Night. With one huge exception:  It’s very, very funny and playwright Edward Albee’s wicked humour seems to work even better as time goes by, given the acceptance and prevalence of cheerful cynicism in the early 21st Century. Face it, the rest of those classic psycho-dramas were awfully heavy slogging – the long wrung-out pauses, the gloom, the sourness, the non-stop drama, the deep dourness of all those screwed-up people. Martha and George and Nick and Honey are as screwed ... Read the rest of entry »

One big BOOMing theatrical experience! BOOM opens the Citadel Theatre’s 50th season - review by GRAHAM HICKS

One big BOOMing theatrical experience!  BOOM opens the Citadel Theatre’s 50th season Review of BOOM by Graham Hicks  Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Sept. 24 to Oct. 11, 2015 Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS BOOM!!! Who is this Rick Miller, and why is he so ridiculously talented? BOOM!!! How can one actor, in a one-man show, enthrall a 681-strong audience for two hours with an intermission? BOOM!!! Why would the Citadel Theatre’s artistic director Bob Baker, a man who’s both a shrewd judge of theatrical quality and who understands his audience better than anybody in Canadian theatre, use a  one-man show to launch its stellar, big-deal 50th season celebration? BOOM!!! BOOM!!! BOOM!!! Because Bob Baker understands that Rick Miller is an affable genius – a story teller, musician, composer, historian, humourist, impressionist, ventriloquist, actor, writer, director. And that’s before weighing up his greatest gift of all:  An ... Read the rest of entry »

Book of Mormon knows no limits - review by GRAHAM HICKS, posted March 27, 2015

Review of Book of Mormon Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada March 24 to 29, 2015 (Sold out, other than last-minute lottery style rush tickets for $25) Review by GRAHAM HICKS I never watched much South Park on TV, but I read enough about the animated comedy to know it broke all the rules of pleasantry and politeness, was one of the first shows on widely-watched TV in the early ’90s to break the profanity barrier, and was screamingly funny through humourous commentary that made fun of just about every American icon, be it human or otherwise. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were natural heirs to the irreverent, damn the social torpedoes school of American satirical humour that broke through with George Carlin, gestated in Saturday Night Live, spawned The Simpsons and John Belushi. So it wasn’t surprising that Parker, Stone and third collaborator Robert Lopez again broke all the rules when they wrote Book of Mormon, certainly the most successful Broadway s ... Read the rest of entry »

Vigilante sends Jonathan Christenson in new directions: Citadel Theatre review by Graham HIcks

Vigilante - written, composed and directed by Jonathan Christenson World Premier, Citadel Theatre (Mclab Stage), Edmonton, Canada A Catalyst Theatre production March 7 to 29, 2015   Review by Graham Hicks It sure is fun, and fascinating, to watch the evolution and growth of an artistic genius in our backyard ... like watching your immensely talented kid brother slowly reveal his extraordinary potential. This review is about Jonathan Christenson’s latest rock-opera Vigilante, playing on the Citadel’s Maclab Stage in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, through March 29. But before we get there, the artist and the show need context. Christenson, born, raised and resident in Edmontonian, is playwright, lyricist, composer and director of his own shows. He’s written musical theatre most of his adult life. House of Pootsie Plunket (1999) and Blue Orphan (2001)brought Christenson a national profile with his collaborator at the time, Joey Tremblay. But it was when Christenson went solo - writi ... Read the rest of entry »

Playing With Fire, The Theo Fleury Story at the Citadel Theatre: Jocks and their artsy girlfriends will both love this show - Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Playing With Fire – The Theo Fleury Story Maclab Stage, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Through Feb. 15, 2015 Tickets, starting at $30 Review by Graham Hicks,  hicksbiz.com Relax. Playing With Fire – The Theo Fleury Story – is not going to subject you to scene after scene of the grim sexual abuse story of Fleury’s adolescence that finally sent his hockey coach tormentor Graham James to prison. In fact, this one-man show on the Citadel’s Maclab Theatre is surprisingly cheerful and funny, given it’s a detailed autobiographical account of the famous and diminutive Calgary Flame's ascent and then descent into a living hell of drug, alcohol and gambling addiction, then, one hopes, back to an addictions-free life.  (Who knows? The play is based on Fleury’s autobiography, published in 2009.) It’s also innovative, played on a mini-hockey rink, with top-notch multi-media enhancements to the story, beautifully acted with Shaun Smyth taking hi ... Read the rest of entry »

Venus in Fur at the Citadel Theatre - whooo hoo! A review by GRAHAM HICKS

Venus in Fur – A HicksBiz.com review by Graham Hicks Citadel Theatre, Shoctor Stage 9828 101A Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Through February 8, 2015 Tickets start at $30 What’s this? A little foreplay?  Black corsets? Whips? Legs that go on forever? At The Citadel Theatre? Yes!  But, this being the theatre, we’re not talking pornography. And, if it was a film, Venus in Fur would likely have a “G” rating. But you wouldn’t take your kids. Venus in Fur is based on a wildly creative idea and is executed on the Citadel’s Shocter stage in wildly creative ways.  The plot’s straightforward and needs explanation before writing about this production. A struggling director/writer (Jamie Cavanagh) is holding auditions for the female lead in his new play, based on a 19th century erotic novel, Venus in Furs by the original Mr. Sadomasochism himself, an Austrian writer by the name of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. This is historic fa ... Read the rest of entry »
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