By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Of all the high holidays, the one that shares a name with a variety of massacres and martyrdoms is coming up. It’s also the ultimate date night. So in order to celebrate romance, there are a number of high-contrast ways to go with that. Here are some possibilities — with the great advantage that, if necessary (or preferable), you can defy that couples paradigm, buy yourself a chocolate, and show up by yourself.
Take It Off Broadway at the Capitol Theatre in Fort Edmonton Park. This innovative and adventurous troupe, which has a rambunctious E-town following, is devoted to marrying burlesque to theatre, in revues and plays that uncorset theatricality and unzip history from its usual gender moorings and restraints. They’re a sassy bunch. And they’ve exercised their cheeky sense of humour and their zest for satire on such improbable subjects as Shakespeare’s heroines, the wives of Henry VIII, the ground-breakers of Canadian history, the women of the Wild West, even the Brontes.
With Take It Off Broadway, resident playwright Ellen Chorley dives into the historical roots of musical theatre in New York vaudeville and burlesque houses. The dance numbers take us back, via golden-age musicals. The bonus: an atmospheric vintage venue for the show — Valentine’s night at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 7:30 and 10 p.m.— is in perfect synch.
The cast: LeTabby Lexington, Violette Coquette, Scarlett Von Bomb, Audra Dacity, Sharpey Diem, Rusty Kingfisher, Dot Do Dot. Tickets: 780-423-4069, fortedmontonpark.ca.
The Grindstone Comedy Theatre & Bistro, one of E-town’s entertainment success stories of the year, is throwing a Valentine’s date night dinner/show bash on Wednesday. A trio of singers — Byron Martin, Danielle Larose, Cassie Muisse — serenade you with romantic jazz, backed up by a three-piece band. And the chef has prepared a special four-course dinner to go with the musical experience. The show and dinner come as a package, or you can just catch the show at 7 and 9 p.m. Tickets: grindstonetheatre.ca.
Girl Brain, the popular sketch comedy trio — Alyson Dicey, Ellie Heath, Caley Suliak — takes to the Grindstone stage for a special Valentine’s edition of their show Friday. Yes, the subject of dating comes up, along with lust, and the tricky art (and possible science) of being single. Tickets: grindstonetheatre.ca.
Putting the blade in: The mighty Cirque du Soleil has brought its first-ever ice skating show Crystal to Rogers Place this week (Wednesday through Sunday). It’s a gravity-defying spectacular fusing aerial acrobatics and figure skating. Tickets: ticketmaster.ca
Doomed love: Perfect subject for Valentine’s Day. For the classicists among you, All For Love, John Dryden’s epic 1677 Anthony and Cleopatra tragedy is running through Saturday at the U of A’s Timms Centre for the Arts. Canadian star director Peter Hinton brings the Studio Theatre production to the stage. Tickets: ualberta.ca
Multiple points of view: A necessary appreciation in any relationship. Take your date to Raconteur, an Expanse Festival contribution to the Chinook Series. Three artists of very different sensibilities, aesthetics, and practices from different disciplines create a one-off cabaret Feb. 14 (10 p.m.) inspired by their responses to what they’ve experienced at Chinook so far. Singer-songwriter Kris Demeanor comes from the world of music. Yazmin Juarez is a visual artist. Sissy Thiessen is a Jingle Dress dancer and spoken word poet. No jaded theatre-goer can yammer on about déja vu. Even the organizers don’t know what to expect. Tickets: chinookseries.ca
Finding a portal: Feb. 14 is the opening night of We Are Not Alone at Theatre Network. Award-winning playwright/actor Damien Atkins is back in his home town with (and in) a solo play that wonders about UFOs, aliens, conspiracies, the kind of people who embrace all of the above, and the thorny question of open-ended belief. It’s a collaboration between Crow’s Theatre, the Segal Centre, and 2b theatre. Tickets: theatrenetwork.ca or 780-453-2440.
Fun with the famiglia: Made In Italy, Farren Timoteo’s funny, touching solo show is a coming-of-age story. It’s not easy to grow up in the only Italian family in Jasper in the 1970s. Timoteo turns in a performance of agile virtuosity, hilarity, and heart. Disco and hair gel are involved. Daryl Cloran directs. If you missed it when it played the Citadel Club last April — here’s my 12thnight.ca REVIEW — you’ve had a reprieve. It’s back for three nights, Thursday through Saturday. Highly recommended. Tickets: 780-425-1820, citadeltheatre.com.
Grand opera meets ’30s farce for a fizzy good time: Lend Me A Tenor at the Mayfield is a riotous six-door ’30s-style farce set during the countdown to a gala performance of Verdi’s Otello at the Cleveland Grand Opera in 1934. It’s by Ken Ludwig (who wrote the Crazy For You book). Hurtling through six doors are two twin Otellos, a panicky opera house manager, a groupie, an explosive Italian wife, a grand dame socialite, a scene-stealing bellhop. Dave Horak’s production has a great cast. Have a peek at the 12thnight.ca REVIEW. Tickets: 780-306-0926, mayfieldtheatre.ca.
How can you go wrong with a genial, funny storyteller/ songwriter/ poet: That would be Ins Choi, the creator of the bona fide stage and screen hit Kim’s Convenience. His Stories, Songs, and Spoken Words is at the Chinook Series, under the Fringe Theatre Adventures flag, Thursday through Saturday. Tickets: 780-409-1910, fringetheatre.ca. Have a peek at my 12thnight.ca INTERVIEW here.