Entertainment

Haida-based CBC pilot The Girl Who Talks to the Moon about fun and respect

Haida-based CBC pilot The Girl Who Talks to the Moon about fun and respect

Ancient language traditionally spoken on Haida Gwaii off the coast of B.C. is facing extinction — but a new web pilot being made for CBC is helping turn the tide. The Girl Who Talks to the Moon is a locally produced children’s program combining live action, stop-motion animation and charming puppetry. Aimed at a young audience, the first episode tells the story of a little girl named Harmony who seeks the help of an excitable raven named Xuuya to make a present for the personified Moon. Filmmaker Heather Hatch is a fundamental creative partner in the project. She helped produce it, write it and was the living link between the story and the culture from which it draws inspiration. “It was really important I was involved because the concepts needed to reflect Haida values,” Hatch, 38, explains. Those values boiled down to a single word — “Respect.” Hatch’s work included frequent consultation with Haida elder Diane Brown. Of the 20 or so fluent Haida speakers left on the planet, Brown is the youngest — she’s 69

 
 

Review: Handel’s Messiah continues to be magical

Review: Handel’s Messiah continues to be magical

When Handel’s Messiah, that quintessential music for the Advent season, was first performed in Dublin in 1742, the orchestra consisted of strings, two trumpets, timpani, harpsichord and a portable organ, and there were some 32 in the choir. These days, performances generally seek authenticity, and are given with Baroque-sized forces similar to those Handel originally wrote for. But that has not always been the case.

 
 

At 95, Dolf Hantelmann closes the lid on piano-tuning career

At 95, Dolf Hantelmann closes the lid on piano-tuning career

Dolf Hantelmann was six, maybe seven, when he first discovered he had a gift. Sitting quietly in the room of a home in Rotterdam in the late 1920s, his uncle’s fingers dancing across the black and white keys of the family piano, he heard a flawed note. It struck him as odd. In fact, it did more than that. It annoyed him deeply.

 
 

A spoiler-free look at the new hope offered by The Last Jedi, opening Thursday

A spoiler-free look at the new hope offered by The Last Jedi, opening Thursday

WARNING: NO, AS IN ZERO, SPOILERS OF THE LAST JEDI AHEAD — PROMISE! For a general audience, 2016’s cinematic return to the Star Wars universe The Force Awakens did its job, and then some. Its actors — particularly Adam Driver as Kylo Ren and Daisy Ridley as the mystery-box-dwelling Rey — vibrated with onscreen presence, and the film felt tremendously familiar in the context of the original trilogy, which first hit screens between 1977 and 1983. But as fast-paced and funny as the new instalment was, it’s not outrageous to say that familiarity often felt like a crushing lack of imagination. The most obvious example of this in Episode VII was the “technological terror” of the illogical, sun-slurping Starkiller Base, yet another Death Star with yet another hexagonal Achilles’ heel, created by yet another Empire run by yet another malformed supreme leader — who also sounds like he gargled too much turpentine. The Rathtars were just sped up rolling Rancor monsters; Rey’s home planet Jakku just another Tatooine where she was essentially a human Jawa with a Tusken Raider stick; Maz Kanata was an orange Yoda living in another Mos Eisley cantina/Jabba’s palace; and even Han Solo’s fate plainly echoed that of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s — Rey and Chewie screaming in unison where Luke once had (as Obi-Wan himself did over his master Qui-Gon Jinn). Directed by J.J. Abrams, the cinematic refresh had a stale and scavenged core that felt very much like it was assembled via a wall of sticky notes listing everything we loved about the original series — from characters to themes to settings (desert, forest, typical Edmonton winter) — squashed into one “new” adventure. Many have said Abrams had no choice but to riff to the max, to erase the reputation of the prequels (which made $2.4 billion worldwide, P.S).

 
 

Cappies reviews: It’s a Wonderful Life

Cappies reviews: It’s a Wonderful Life

Andrea Witzke, left, Jon Morganson and Graydon Antoniuk in a scene from Millwoods Christian School Cappies production of It’s a Wonderful Life. By Meghan Bunn Strathcona High School Soft, blue light envelopes glistening snow-adorned trees and majestic mountain peaks, as the sound of sleigh bells accompanies the Christmas spirit in the air. In their production of It’s a Wonderful Life, Millwoods Christian School welcomed all to the small town of Bedford Falls, where “no man is a failure who has friends.” This sentiment rings true for George Bailey, kind-hearted local, who’s always ready to lend a helping hand. He’s got the girl, the family, and the white picket fence, but is constantly met with misfortune and sabotage from greedy businessman Henry Potter. While George initially proves resilient, life wears him down, and he begins to contemplate suicide. In answer to the prayers of both the townfolk, and George himself, George’s guardian angel intervenes. The angel guides George through the terrifying fate his hometown would have met had he not been born, and is able to remind George that life is a gift.  The original story can be traced back to Philip Van Doren Stern’s short story, The Greatest Gift, first published in 1943, which then inspired the 1964 Frank Capra movie It’s a Wonderful Life. This classic Christmas tale proves timeless, as Philip Grecian’s stage adaption was first produced by Arts Club Theatre Company in 2007, almost 65 years later! Graydon Antoniuk delivered a grounded performance as George Bailey, capturing the character’s kind, if slightly naive nature. Antoniuk’s versatility was showcased as he effortlessly navigated through Bailey’s life, from ambitious and hopeful, to downtrodden and defeated. Kaitlin Braucht’s interpretation of Mary was contagiously energetic.

 
 

10 things to do in Edmonton this week: Reckoning, Fiddler on the Roof, and Handel’s Messiah

10 things to do in Edmonton this week: Reckoning, Fiddler on the Roof, and Handel’s Messiah

Reckoning Sound, movement, and video combine for the three separate stories that make up Reckoning , now playing at the Westbury Theatre. Directed and designed by artist co-op Article 11, Reckoning presents a trio of experiences with the Indian Residential Schools and Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as looking at the inevitable fallout experienced across Canada. Written, designed, and directed by Tara Beagan and Andy Moro, Reckoning features performances by Beagan, Marcel Petit, Jonathan Fisher, Jesse Wabegijig, Lena Recollet, Rebecca John, and Jessica Campbell-Maracle.   When : Until Sunday, Dec. 17. All performances are at 8 p.m. Where : Westbury Theatre, ATB Financial Arts Barns, 10330 84 Ave. Admission : $22, available at the door or in advance from the Fringe Theatre website Info : fringetheatre.ca Dancers take the stage during a Singing Christmas Tree dress rehearsal at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton on Dec. 18, 2013. The Singing Christmas Tree will be at the Jubilee Auditorium, Dec

 
 

Cappies reviews: James and the Giant Peach

Cappies reviews: James and the Giant Peach

By Arden Phillips Strathcona High School When a magic spell and a boy collided, a pair of atrocious aunts, a group of anthropomorphic insects, and one fantastic flying fruit were all conjured up right before the audience’s eyes in Morinville Community High School’s production of James and the Giant Peach. With music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and book by Timothy Allen McDonald, the musical is inspired by the beloved Roald Dahl story of the same name and since its release has become popular among regional and youth theatre groups worldwide. The tale follows young James Henry Trotter, who finds himself living with his villainous aunts after losing his parents in an accident involving a rampant rhinoceros. But with the intervention of a mysterious stranger, James finds himself swept away on a transatlantic adventure aboard an enormous, magical peach with a crew of talking insects, who will soon offer James a powerful reminder of the true meaning of family. In the role of protagonist James, Daphne Charrois exuded tender innocence and magnetism. Through an evocative stage presence and soaring vocals showcased in songs like Middle of a Moment, Charrois tackled the challenging task of playing a young boy with grace. Charrois was supported by the cohesive insect ensemble, whose onstage chemistry embodied a heartwarming familial bond in numbers like Everywhere That You Are. Luke Zacharias as the fiddle-playing Grasshopper and Devon Marsden as the worrisome Earthworm were particular standouts, each offering elements of comedy and charm

 
 

Songwriter looks for universal themes in his love-prone songbook

Songwriter looks for universal themes in his love-prone songbook

Love — it’s the starting inspiration for most songwriters and just about everyone enjoys hearing about it in song, whether you’re in or out of it. For Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, it’s “a universal theme” that can be approached from different angles. “Often they come from personal experience, but there’s a certain amount of storytelling that goes into it, too, because you’re always hoping to relate. I definitely strive for something universal, but there are so many stories and so many pictures you can paint. Even a song about love lost can relate to so many people. Since the album came out, I’ve found more and more people coming up to me to explain how it relates to their own personal story or struggle and I’m extremely thankful for that.” That’s the Calgary singer’s last album, I Wanna Make It With You (2016), with no less than 18 tracks. When I mention the number, he notes he cut a few out

 
 

Acid-tipped lyrical sensibility on Wildwood’s debut

Acid-tipped lyrical sensibility on Wildwood’s debut

Wildwood  Laverne (Independent) Four stars Wavering somewhere between roots-rock, rave up and honky tonk, Edmonton’s Wildwood offers up a concise, 10-song debut that sounds like the members missed the last 25 years of country hokum. Guitarist and co-vocalist Dave Johnston (Fuzz Kings, Confusionaires) has a lot to do with that, dealing out guitar swagger and poignant autobiography (Onward Through Life) on his three numbers, but drummer Scott Lingley (Minstrels on Speed, Jazzplow) and bassist Mitch Diesel have the chops in both hard rock and country to keep up as well. The not-so-secret weapon in Wildwood is lead vocalist and main songwriter Tanyss Nixi, who reveals an acid-tipped lyrical sensibility that swells up in ballads like Toilet Town, as well as the jet-fuelled Rich People (“… have a hard time when the money’s all gone”), a short blast of working-class vitriol straight out of ’70s Hag or Johnny Paycheck. There’s a steely reserve hiding behind Nixi’s deceptively sweet voice, perfect for the cover of Kitty Wells’ proto-feminist anthem Honky Tonk Angels and her own Useless Torch, a song that would fit nicely in Margo Price or Whitney Rose’s set list. Highly recommended.    

 
 

Teamwork sets up P.J. Perry for some great tasting jazz

Teamwork sets up P.J. Perry for some great tasting jazz

P.J.Perry Quartet Alto Gusto – Live At The Yardbird Suite (Cellar Live) Google Translate claims Alto Gusto is Italian for “high taste” and that pretty much sums up this seemingly effortless hour of hip jazz. Reedman P. J. Perry has made some fine studio recordings, but hearing him in the company of his peers live on stage offers an experience that’s hard to match. When the saxophonist pulled together scattered friends — Los Angeles pianist Jon Mayer, Toronto bassist Steve Wallace, and Michigan-born drummer Quincy Davis — for two nights last May at the Yardbird Suite, they knew each other from past experience, but had never worked as one band together before.

 
 
 
 

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