HicksBiz Blog

Category: Performing Arts

Performing Arts

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 »

The story of Journey singer Steve Perry and Edmonton rock band Privilege ... a long time ago!

For years and years, there have been rumours/legends around Edmonton that Steve Perry - the amazing voice of Journey in the early '80s when the band had its big hits  Don't Stop Believin', Open Arms and Any Way You Want It - sang with the popular Edmonton band Privilege before he joined Journey.  Having hooked up with band leader Andy Krawchuk on Facebook, I asked Andy what that was all about. It's true! Here's the story of Steve Perry and Privilege - from the mid-'70s, when Privilege was spending much time in the USA. "Let's see if I can remember this," wrote Andy from the United Kingdom, where he has lived for a long time. "I met Steve (Perry) when our band, which had changed its name from the A&W Lords to Privilege, were recording in Bakersfield, California at the recording studio belonging to our producer Gary Paxton. "Steve was a starving drummer doing session work, but he was also in a band. He loved our horns and came to see us in Hollywood when Privilege was warming up for the Ike a ... Read the rest of entry »

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 »

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 »

Undercover at the Citadel Theatre, a comedic whodunit with more twists than a lemon in a martini: Review by GRAHAM HICKS

Undercover A Spontaneous Theatre production presented by the Citadel Theatre The Citadel Theatre Club space, April 4 to 29, 2018 Tickets Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  HicksBiz.com In a theatrical age dominated by ultra-serious political correctness, what a relief that Rebecca Northan knows how to have fun in a thoroughly professional way. Her touring show Undercover, on the Citadel’s cabaret stage through April 29, 2018, is a good old-fashioned murder mystery, a whodunit, complete with an old mansion, a dark and stormy night and black-outs in which the bereaved very suddenly, with much shrieking, becomes the bereaved. But it’s a whodunit with a fantastically fun twist. Every night, the show's assistant detective is an audience member, drawn at random to play the part. The script is cleverly written to let the latest and ever-changing member of the cast control the plot. As Northan says in thanking the audience/cast member at the end of the show, the second half of the show has never ev ... 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 »

Motown the Musical - Feb.13-18 - Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium: Much more here then meets the eye: Review by GRAHAM HICKS, HicksBiz.com

Motown The Musical (Broadway Across Canada presentation) February 13 to 18, 2018 Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium Tickets  Review by GRAHAM HICKS,  HicksBiz.com Yes, Motown the Musical at Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium February 13 to 18, is a song ‘n’ dance extravaganza featuring some 30 highly talented triple-threat (singing, dancing, acting) actors doing the songs and the great dance moves of the legendary Motown Record Company’s artists, from The Four Tops through Diana Ross through Stevie Wonder. But the show is far more interesting, much deeper and more complex than what would be expected. It’s a fascinating deep dive into American culture, race relations, politics and the entertainment business of the 1950s to 1980s. It revolves around one businessman/artist who single-handedly bought “coloured music” into the mainstream of American pop music. Berry Gordy is a mass of walking contradictions, which makes the story ever so interesting. A bri ... Read the rest of entry »
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