Anthony on , , , , , , , 15 Mar 2011 06:18 am

On the weekend, Aidan and I went to see Carousel Theatre’s musical “Munscha Mia”. Aidan has started doing video reviews of the plays he sees, so here’s his review of “Munscha Mia” for you to enjoy.

You can also see his review of Bird Brain.

Anthony on , , 05 Jun 2007 11:52 pm

growingup6.jpgShhhh, come close, I have a secret to tell. It pains me to say this, but this past Sunday Saturday, we went to Surrey.

Actually, Surrey gets a bad rap. It’s just a typical suburb to a big city, with everything that goes along with that. Although I really don’t know any “Surrey girls”, they seem to have the same reputation as “Passage girls” did when I went to high school. That’s Eastern Passage, a small community outside of Halifax, that bears absolutely no resemblance to Surrey whatsoever.

So “Why,” you may ask, “why did you go to Surrey?” Well, we went to Surrey to take in the Surrey Children’s Festival. Now, Vancouver has a perfectly good, well renowned children’s festival of its own. Close too, located down in Vanier Park. However, the Vancouver festival is (a) expensive, and (b) not very toddler oriented. Surrey’s Children’s Festival had many things to do for toddlers, including several toddler-specific tents with things like tunnels, and ride-on cars, and a big sand pit, and so on. Also, live music. Also, free. Well, mostly free.

So on Sunday Saturday, after Aidan’s nap, we rushed into the car and headed down the East-West Connector to Bear Creek Park. We’ve never been to Bear Creek Park, but have driven by it a few times. This is a park located just south of the Whalley neighbourhood, which is notorious as much for its drug and homelessness problems as for its Little League teams. It was a bright, sunny day, with the thermometer pushing 30°. It was a very popular event, and the parking lots were packed beyond capacity.

The reason we rushed was because, if our timing was right, we intended to take Aidan to his first concert (well, I guess his second if you count seeing Charlotte Diamond in the City Square Mall). At 4pm on Sunday Saturday, Fred Penner was playing the last of 4 shows he performed at the festival. Fred Penner missed my generation — he hit his stride more with people my sister’s age. I certainly remember the show “Fred Penner’s Place“, but I was somewhat beyond the age that it targeted. Regardless, we both know who he his, and several of his songs. Maybe not as many as Raffi or even Sharon, Lois, and Bram (who were also a little later than us, but not quite as much).

Things worked out well, and we had a chance to explore the festival’s venue, take in some of the sights and sounds, and let Aidan blow off some steam in one of the toddler play areas. Maybe 10 minutes before the performance we brought him into the theatre, since the “main stage” was actually indoors at the Surrey Arts Centre. Aidan had never been in a theatre before, and was quite impressed by the blue-mini-light lit stairs and spring-loaded chairs. By the time the show started, the theatre was perhaps a little over half full, and a good portion of the crowd was running up and down the stairs, or in front of the stage, or through the rows of seats. Not in an awful way, but in the way you would expect several dozen toddlers and preschoolers to behave. This made controlling the boy a little on the difficult side, but we managed.



The house lights went down and the show started. Aidan sat on his seat, transfixed. Although I don’t think he recognized many of the songs, he was pretty good in absorbing them, and the whole atmosphere of the show. He didn’t sit on his seat the whole time: some times he was standing up, clapping and banging his hands on the (empty) seats ahead of us, sometimes he was dancing, and sometimes his attention wandered and he wanted to run up and down the stairs. In which case, I might add, he would have simply been joining a few other toddlers.

I must say that I was incredibly impressed with how well Fred managed the show, and the crowd. It certainly showed why he’s so popular and successful. The show was peppered with bits oriented to the parents, with his guitarist breaking into the riff from Stairway to Heaven, and at another time Fred slipped a little bit of the Juno-winning “Crabbuckit” into the end of “The Cat Came Back“. He talked to and interacted with the gaggle of kids that had broken through security and rushed the stage. After several people had taken photos and had been chastised by the theatre staff, he told the crowd (and the staff) that since it was the last show of the festival that they should relax the rules and let people take as many photos as they’d like. And so they did.


At one point when Aidan was getting restless, he was crawling on the floor, under the seats through the toddler-proclaimed “tunnel!”. Unfortunately Gwen had a slight incident involving the chair seat and the crouching toddler. There was some loud crying and it was clearly heard on stage. Fred turned to us, and asked the name of the crying child. We told him, and then he proceeded to talk to Aidan, using his name several times. Well, you can imagine that this got the boy’s attention pretty quickly and the tears evaporated within moments. Again, it showed how good he is with the crowd.



So, we had quite a bit of fun!

After the concert, we went back out to the festival grounds and listened to some more music — an odd mix that can be best called South Asian (almost bhangra) fusion. It was definitely sub-continent flavoured but it had a fiddle player. And an electric sitar. Anyway, it was incredibly dance-able, and both Gwen and Aidan did just that. Sorry about the photo — I wanted to capture the stage as well as Gwen and the boy, but unfortunately that put some “Surrey girls” in the centre of the photo, and you don’t really want a close-up.


Anthony on , , , 15 Apr 2007 07:22 pm

Hockey Mom, Hockey DadFriday was my birthday, rounding out our 3 week stretch of birthdays. For my birthday, Gwen got me a GPS receiver: a fancy Garmin eTrex Vista CX. We intend to use it to do geocaching and for hikes. But that’s not what I want to talk about. On Friday night, Gwen took me to see “Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad” at the Arts Club Theatre. Tammy came over to babysit for us, and brought her two cats Keji and Jack — she and The Brit are going to Mexico for a week and we agreed to look after them again. At any rate, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad is a two-actor play starring Cailin Stadnyk and Jackson Davies (you know, Constable Constable from The Beachcombers). It was written by a Caper, Michael Melski. It’s billed as a romantic comedy.

So, the play starts with a completely unrecognizable Jackson Davies (see pic from the play, below). Mind you, he looks 30 years younger. His character, “Teddy”, is a divorced custodian with a young son playing hockey in house league. In Trail, B.C. (apparently a departure from the original). Cailin Stadnyk’s character, “Donna”, is a divorced school teacher also with a young son playing hockey in the house league, on the same team (“The Leafs”). Teddy is one of those over-bearing, over-competitive, loud-mouthed hockey dads. Donna is a meek mother who’s never been to a kid’s hockey game. Right from the start, Teddy pursues Donna, and over the next 90 minutes (yes, it’s a short play) we find out more about Donna, but not that much about Teddy. As it turns out, Donna came from an abusive relationship.

Jackson Davies and Cailin Stadnyk in Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad at the Arts Club TheatreOnce we find that out, the play gets uncomfortable. Frankly, Teddy comes across as the same sort of abusive personality as her ex-husband. At one point, he incites the kids not to shake hands at the end of a game and instead to start a fight. Donna is predictably aghast at this urging to use violence.

Eventually, the two feed off each other. As the play wraps up, Teddy becomes a little less extreme and Donna become a little less meek, and they live happily every after.

The acting was great: both actors were quite convincing in their roles. The writing, however, was weak. Not awful, but we’ve definitely seen better plays. If you’re considering seeing it, consider giving it a pass. We had fun, though.