CATS the Musical in Vancouver

April 11th, 2012 @ 9:54am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Vancouver has been invited to the Jellicle Ball where cats gather once a year, or in this case nightly until April 15th. One by one CATS are introduced in song with lyrics that stay true to the poetry of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. In fact, the entire musical is T.S. Eliot’s writing (published and unpublished) set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. There is no spoken dialogue, just whimsical songs and a frenzy of feline movements from playful poses to big musical numbers with tap dancing.

At first I thought there was no real storyline, simply a sequence of meeting cats. However through the introductions — which take place for our benefit as spectators of the one-night only Jellicle Ball — a story appears. Mungojerrie (Daniel Switzer) and Rumpelteazer (Hillary Porter) set the scene with their tale of hi-jinx. Both Rum Rum Tugger (Chris Stevens), whose hips got the crowd swooning, and Magical Mister Mistoffelees (Chaz Wolcott) garnered applause and cheers during their introductory performances.

Grizabella (Melissa Grohowski), the tattered old glamour cat that appears not to have a friend in the world, proudly drifted into Memories. It’s a song many have heard before but never performed live, on stage, under the (simulated) moonlight.

The orchestra is small and the sounds, paired with the cat suits and leg warmers, remind you that this production first hit the stage in London, 1981. Regardless, the tales are timeless and the company’s singing – while dancing their paws off – is impressive.

Broadway Across Canada presents CATS, the longest continuously touring show in American theatre history, in Vancouver nightly at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre until April 15, 2012. The show is family-friendly and enjoyable for all ages.

Disclosure: Review Post

I was not paid or expected to write this review or any other. I did receive complimentary media tickets for the show.

Vancouver History Tidbits: Stanley Park Trail Names Part 2

April 10th, 2012 @ 2:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I love stepping under the canopy of Stanley Park‘s forest trails, detouring from the concrete paths of the Sea Wall and surrounding thoroughfares. A few years ago I profiled the origins of several Stanley Park Trail Names including Merilees, Rawlings, Tatlow, Thompson, and Tisdall. Tourism Vancouver recently launched their ultimate guide to Stanley Park (useful to visitors and locals alike) so I thought I would profile just a few more trail names in the hopes that some of you might be enticed to explore the mulch-covered routes through the park.

Avison Trail Namesake: Henry Avison, Stanley Park Superintendent 1888-1895
History: Henry Avison was the first employee of the Vancouver Park Board. He cut Stanley Park’s first trails and was its first zoo keeper, designed the park’s first gardens, and lived in a lodge by its entrance. [Source: VancouverHistory]

1898- Avison’s cottage at the entrance to Stanley Park. Archives item# St Pk P250.

Eldon Trail Namesake: G. Eldon, Park Board Superintendent 1896-1909
History: George Eldon was Park Board Chair from 1910-1911. In 1916, Eldon and other commissioners planted an oak tree near Pipeline Road to commemorate William Shakespeare’s tercentenary. There’s a monument for the bard to this day at the north end of the rose garden. [Source: Vancouver Archives]

1916 – A tree for Shakespeare. Archives item# Tr P24. Photographer: Frank Gowen.

Lees Trail Namesake: A.E. Lees, Park Commissioner 1902-1917
History: It took me a few minutes to find information about Andrew E. Lees but thanks to House Historian, James Johnstone, I came upon an incredibly interesting read about A.E.Lee’s old yellow house on Richards Street. Johnstone was hired to look up some history on the house before it was demolished to make room for a new development.

Photos from House Historian – James Johnstone

Here’s is just a snippet from Johnstone’s research that applies in this case: “Lees was Vancouver’s Parks Board Commissioner from 1902 to 1915… …During his tenure as Parks Board Commissioner, work commenced on both the Stanley Park Sea Wall and the Stanley Park Zoo. Lees lived at 909 Richards with his wife, Anna Elizabeth Lees, and their five children from 1890 to 1906.” [Source: House Historian]

Other trail names like Squirrel, Wren, South Creek, and even Bridle are pretty self-explanatory. Next time you’re in the park take a stroll down Lovers Walk, head up the Ravine Trail to the Beaver Lake Trail, or take the Raccoon Trail to the Meadow. You can take this handy PDF map along with you for guidance or plot your route on this interactive online map.

Concord Jersey Tuesday

April 10th, 2012 @ 11:24am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last Tuesday I launched a jersey contest series with Concord Social, an online community that engages Vancouverites and curates ideas in design, architecture, and technology. We had a fantastic response as hundreds shared how they will be watching the Vancouver team and cheering them on this season. Entries came from around BC, Canada, and the globe. We’re keeping the momentum going this week by giving away a #14 jersey.

A part of the Vancouver team 2005, #14 has become a fan favourite with his sharp wit, clutch goal scoring, and hockey with heart attitude. The team has named him “Most Exciting Player” in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and he currently sits on the team’s top line. Did you know he has also been inducted into the Canadian and International Ball Hockey Halls of Fame?

Here’s how you can enter to win and proudly wear number #14 on your back:

  • Leave a comment here naming who you think is the most exciting Vancouver player, past or present (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win a hockey jersey from @Concord_Pacific & @Miss604 #ConcordJerseyTuesday

I will draw one winner next Tuesday that will be announced in the next Concord Jersey Tuesday contest post. Last week’s winner is Gary! Follow Concord Social on Twitter and Facebook for more information about their local and national developments.

Update The winner is @hannah_thud!

Top Ten Endangered Sites 2012: Heritage Vancouver Tour

April 10th, 2012 @ 10:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Each year Heritage Vancouver lists their Top Ten Endangered Sites around the city. These are libraries, schools, motels, theatres, and other structures whose fate is uncertain or threatened. The 2012 list will be revealed exclusively during a bus tour next month.

Date: Saturday, May 5, 2012
Time: 1pm to 5pm (loading begins at 12:30pm and bus departs at 1pm sharp)
Location: Meet in the Vancouver Museum Parking Lot, 1100 Chestnut St.
Tickets: Available online for $30, Heritage Vancouver Members $25

Heritage Vancouver has been keeping a list of endangered sites since 2001. The 2012 list will be revealed to the public after the bus tours.

Top Ten Endangered Sites 2011

1. Vancouver Schools: Carleton (1896, 1908 to 1912)

Carleton Schoolhouse (1896)
Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

2. Vancouver Schools: Kitchener (1914 & 1924)

Demo - Kitchener Elementary School (1924)
Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

3. Vancouver Schools: Sexsmith (1912 & 1913)

4. Shannon Estate (1915 to 1925)

Shannon Estate (1915 to 1925)
Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

5. Strathcona North of Hastings

6. Gordon T. Legg Residence (1899) [updated]

Legg Residence (1899), South elevation
Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

7. Collingwood Library (1951)

8. Lower Mount Pleasant

9. Granville Street (1888 on)

10. 2400 Motel (1946)

2400 Court Motel
Photo credit: Arbron on Flickr

The first bus for the 2012 tour has sold out so they are currently filling up another. Get your tickets today to enjoy this informative guided tour in a Transit Museum Society (TRAMS) historic bus. Tour guides are Donald Luxton, well-known author and heritage expert and the President of Heritage Vancouver, and Anthony Norfolk, head of Heritage Vancouver‘s Advocacy Group.

Keep Vancouver Spectacular 2012

April 9th, 2012 @ 2:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Keep Vancouver Spectacular is an annual city-wide cleanup lead by community volunteers to help tidy up our streets and public spaces. From May 1st to May 30th you can organize or be a part of neighbourhood beautification efforts.

after the party
Photo credit: aloalo* on Flickr – Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

From the City of Vancouver: “Last year, a record 18,500 volunteers in over 150 groups came together to fill thousands of bags with litter. Our clean streets and shorelines are among the reasons why Vancouver is one of the most livable cities in the world. We need your help to Keep Vancouver Spectacular.”

They are currently looking for block captains and volunteers to lead the charge this year. The City will provide teams with garbage bags, gloves, cleanup tools, and free pickup of litter and debris collected by volunteers.

The official kick-off event is April 28th from 9:00am to 12:00pm at John Oliver Secondary School and there will be a wrap-up event June 6th. You can also find out about year-round efforts including basics for busting litter.