A wealth of choices on Edmonton stages this weekend (the groundhog needs to get out more)

HMS Pinafore, Edmonton Opera.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

The existentialists were right. Our real problem, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t hypothermia. It’s choice. There’s a wealth of possibilities on Edmonton stages: consider the weekend possibilities. 

•“Now give three cheers and one cheer more for the well-bred captain of the Pinafore….” The class system in all its snobbery gets a razzing in the ineffable Gilbert and Sullivan musical satire HMS Pinafore. The jaunty 1878 operetta gets infiltrated by the Jazz Age in Edmonton Opera’s new production, opening Saturday on the Jube stage.

The idea of setting it on a ‘20s luxury liner (and jazzing up the score to match) belongs to EO general director Tim Yakimec who says “we could have used the Queen Mary, but instead we built our own!”

Glenn Nelson as Sir Joseph Porter in HMS Pinafore, Edmonton Opera.

Rob Herriot’s production pilfers favourite actors from Edmonton theatre. Actor/ director Glenn Nelson plays Sir Joseph Porter, the landlubber Admiral who arrives everywhere trailing a posse of “his sisters and his cousins and his aunts.” Actor/ playwright/ cabaret artist/ TV host  Bridget Ryan plays blowsy, warm-hearted Little Buttercup, possessor of a big voice and a deep dark secret essential to the plot.

You’ll also see Ryan Parker, a charismatic Teatro La Quindicina fave, as the Boatswain. The Plain Janes’ Jason Hardwick, who’s in that company’s upcoming musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, choreographs. And the assistant director is Teatro star Farren Timoteo, whose solo show Made In Italy ran in the Citadel Club last season.

HMS Pinafore runs Saturday, plus Feb. 6 and 9. Tickets: tickets.edmontonopera.com. 

Flying Canoë Volant at La Cité francophone. Photo supplied

 •The French Quarter knows how to throw a bash. For six years Flying Canoë Volant has been inviting Edmontonians by the thousands (over 35,000 at last count), to redeem winter, and celebrate our three founding cultures, First Nations, Métis, and French-Canadian.

You can follow the trail of light installations through the Mill Creek Ravine, stop in at the Trapper’s Cabin to hear tales; you can dance and drum at the Indigenous Base Camp. dancing and listening to stories. You can ascend to the hospitality of the elegant French cultural centre, La Cité francophone, listen to bands, explore an art and film installation, listen to music both traditional and contemporary, dance your boots off, visit an ice bar on the patio. You can party indoors and out-, in a mixture of languages, with a mixture of drinks.

It happens Friday and Saturday — 6 to 10 p.m. in the ravine, 6 to midnight at La Cité francophone, 6 to 10 p.m. at Rutherford School across the street. And it’s free.

Love and Information, MacEwan University theatre arts. Photo supplied

•MacEwan University launches its new 150-seat black box Theatre Lab in Allard Hall with a production of Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information, a witty and insightful barrage of some 57 fleeting staccato plays. Dave Horak, of Edmonton Actors Theatre, directs the student production which runs in the new space through Feb. 10. Tickets: TIX on the Square (780-420-1757, tixonthesquare.ca).     

Hey Ladies! salutes Groundhog’s Day Friday night, in its usual unclassifiable swirl of music, chatter, home entertainment tips, and booze. Your only choice here isn’t whether there’s six more weeks of winter (not possible, surely) or early spring. Co-hosts Davina Stewart, Cathleen Rootsaert and Leona Brausen are joined by  special guests s Dr. Auntie Dote (aka Heather D. Swain), visual artist Dallas LaRose, and The Flashback Band (with 15-year-old Elvis, Jaedyn Pilon). 

•Saturday night, artiste extraordinaire Patricia Zentilli continues her series of themed cabarets,  PattyZee@TheRoxy, with A Joyful Evening Of Sad Songs. She culls from the best: the contemporary musical theatre repertoire, Leonard Cohen, Ben Folds, Dolly Parton, Billy Joel…. In this musical sampling she’s joined by fellow cast members from the upcoming Citadel production of Mamma Mia! (Jenni Burke, Tess Benger, and Melanie Piatocha).

And continuing:

Julien Arnold, Aimée Beaudoin, Reed McColm in Slumberland Motel, Shadow Theatre. Photo by Marc J. Chalifoux Photography.

•At Shadow Theatre, Slumberland Motel, Collin Doyle’s funny and touching new comedy of middle-aged disappointment and terror (see 12thnight.ca review)

•At Citadel Theatre, Empire of the Son, a solo memoir of a tempestuous father/son relationship (see 12thnight.ca interview with creator/star Tetsuro Shigematsu).

•At Rubaboo Festival, the Punctuate!/ Alberta Aboriginal Performing Arts production of Matthew MacKenzie’s Bears (see 12thnight.ca interview with playwright MacKenzie) is at the Backstage Theatre (ATB Financial Arts Barns) through Saturday. The same forces present Christine Sokaymoh Frederick’s kids’ play Minosis Gathers Hope at the Backstage Saturday and Sunday. Tickets: 780-409-1910, fringetheatre.ca

   

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