Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Last Day Of the Fringe

We knew this day was inevitable! The last day of the Vancouver International Fringe Festival is here and we are very sad that it is about to end. We have one final performance today at 7:15 at the Firehall Arts Centre and we hope you will join us for this final show.

This experience has been one that we encourage all opera singers and producers to take part in. We have had the privilege of meeting so many other artists from across the span of performance art. We have met clowns, actors, singers, dancers, other producers. We have learned what seems to work as a Fringe and we have learned what doesn't work so well.

We also had the privilege of spending nearly three weeks with our fabulous Music Director Kathleen Lohrenz Gable, and we know that we speak for the entire cast when we say this woman is a true genius and a consumate educator. She has pushed us to our limits and forced us to take the show to new levels and to grow so much as performers and artists. We simply can not wait until we have the opportunity to work with Kathy again. Thank you so much.

VanCOCO will next be seen at the Minoru Chapel on Oct 5th in a Highlights of Carmen Concert as part of the Minoru Chapel Opera Nights Series. As for the rest of the cast, well, Katherine Landry starts her school tour with Vancouver Opera In Schools (which she has been rehearsing during the Fringe Festival), Paul Just is going to spend some time enjoying his new engagement to the lovely Carolyn Barker, Ed Moran will be singing Dulcamara in L'Elisir d'amore with Vancouver Island Opera as well as doing everything he can with VanCOCO as the Company Production Manager. Natalie Burdeny is headed off to Charlotte, North Carolina so work with renowned Mezzo-Soprano Victoria Livengood, and Grant Wardlow is in the market for his next gig!

Pictures courtesy of Natasha Vignal - NV Images.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A few more "Shows We Saw" and some audience reaction!

Trio Member Paul Just
rocking it out at Karaoke
Night at the Fringe Bar
Wow! It's hard to believe there are only 3 more days of the Fringe Festival! This has been hands-down one of the most amazing experiences ever. Aside from producing a stellar show, we have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful artists and Fringe-goers alike. If you ever get to be a part of this Festival we can guarantee it will be an experience to remember.

When we're not on the stage, we've been taking in many of the shows on and off island! The plethora of talent is outstanding. Last night, while having a post show celebratory drink at the Fringe Bar (AGRO Cafe on Granville Island) we were trying to decide what late-night show to catch before packing it in when we were approached by charming actor/singer/musician pitching his show "The Illumination of the Grumpy Guitarist". Long story short, he sold us and we quickly guzzled our drinks and skipped over to the Review Theatre to see what the hubbub was about!

In case we needed
directions to the bar! ;-)
Delighted, surprized and thoroughly entertained is all we can say! So much so, that we leapt to our feet at the end. It was a combination of theatre, song and dance by some VERY TALENTED artists! It was a great end to an evening! If you're still trying to decide what to see on these last 3 days of the festival we highly recommend this show! And they have 2 performances left! Friday at 6:45pm and Sunday at 1:55pm. Go check it out!

"The Birdman" was another show we took in a few nights ago. Weird, quirky and strange is all we can say! But the uninhibited dance number at the end was worth the wait! He's at Performance Works!

Tony, our amazing stage manager had this to say about "Under the Mango Tree"... "UTMT was great. Veneesh Dubois is a very talented performer who played several roles in this semi-autobiographical play about her growing up in Fiji ‘Under the Mango Tree’. It was moving and delightful and incorporated film, music and her singing and dancing. I would recommend it her personality is charming and her acting good." You can catch this show at the Firehall (same venue as Trouble In Tahiti!)

As for Trouble In Tahiti, we still have 3 performances to go! Tonight (Friday) and Saturday we've got twilight shows at 11pm and our CLOSING (sniff-sniff) show is on Sunday at 7:15pm. There's still time to get your tickets in advance through or at the door (cash only).

Here's a smattering of what we've been hearing from our audiences!

"Congratulations on all your hard work. I really really enjoyed your production last night. Thanks for bringing such a rare gem to Vancouver audiences." ~ Scott Ashton Swan (Applause Musicals)

"Congrats on a great show. So glad I got to see you all tonight. The street scene duet was just gorgeous. A real success all around." ~ Diane Speirs

"I was at the show last night. LOVED the music. Congratulations to you all!" ~ Susinn McFarlen (Actor/Playwright)

"Let me again congratulate you on Trouble in Tahiti – I thoroughly enjoyed it." ~ James W. Wright (General Director, Vancouver Opera)

"I'm glad I came!" ~ Reviewer (Opera Canada)

Tahiti Musical Director Kathy Gable
with Trio Member Grant Wardlow
relaxing at the Fringe Bar!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fringe Shows We Saw!

Did you know there are nearly 90 shows at the Vancouver Fringe Festival? Our cast and crew has been taking advantage of our Artist Passes to see a plethora of the offerings. We thought we'd share with you some our experiences!

Ed and Natalie with Martha the
Whale from Lost in Place
"Lost in Place" is a site-specific show over at the old Crane on Granville Island. A BEACHED WHALE, A CRASH-LANDED SPACEMAN… AND YOU! How could it get any better than that? Well it does. An original work by Seth Soulstein (Alley Theatre), he calls it an interactive fantasy about love, loss, and the struggle between giving up hope and continuing to fight the fight. I highly recommend seeing this show. You do not want to miss it. ~ Ed Moran

"Every Story Ever Told" by Ryan Gladstone is playing at Carousel Theatre. This is another must see! I don't know how he manages to do it but we left the theatre actually thinking that he may actually have just told us every single story that was ever told all in one hour. Our experience featured "Tales of the Iguana"! Your's will undoubtedly be unique!You have to go and see it to believe it. ~ Natalie Burdeny & Ed Moran

"Since You Left Us" is an outrageous new comedy by Susinn McFarlen directed by Allan Morgan playing at the Firehall Arts Centre. A story of a dysfunctional family like no other! This show had me laughing and crying all at the same time. A dog in diapers??? "SINCE YOU LEFT US is about making peace with the family you have, not the one you wish you had". In my book it was a perfect 10! Bravi tutti! Put this one on your MUST SEE list! ~ Natalie Burdeny

"The Seminar" presented by Poiema Productions is a dark comedy about "ugly people". I saw the preview for this show at the Fringe For All and immediately added it to my must see list. "ATTENTION UGLY PEOPLE! Don't let your genetics define who you are are!" is one of the tag-lines for this show. I have to say this show made me feel extremely uncomfortable. So much so, I had the impulse to leave (but didn't 'cause that would be rude!). That said, I give kudos to this cast for stretching the boundaries of theatre and staying in their outrageous characters throughout the show. It may have not be for me, but it may be for you. Give it a try! They have 4 performances left at the Review Stage on Granville Island. ~ Natalie Burdeny

"This is Cancer!" has been getting RAVE reviews and I have to agree if you see anything at the Fringe (aside from Trouble In Tahiti of course) THIS is the show to experience. I guarantee you'll love and hate Cancer all at the same time. More info on their website! 3 more shows at Performance Works on Granville Island. And if you sit up front you may get a free martini! ~ Natalie Burdeny

Ed with Seth (the Arth-ling)
from Lost in Place

The Reviews Are In! And no... there is no naked Sam!

Trouble In Tahiti
September 8 to 18, 2011
Firehall Arts Centre
We have three performances under our belt and five left to go! Yesterday the reviews came pouring in and we are tickled pink with what the critics have had to say. Below are some snippits from the reviews. You'll also find hyperlinks each of the individual reviews should you wish to read the full version.

"Very innovative approach to the Berstein opera, and excellent performance by these five talented opera singers!" - Review Vancouver

“If you’ve wanted to try an opera but never dared go to one because it seemed inaccessible, Trouble in Tahiti is probably the best introduction. It’s in English, it’s accessible and it’s very short (40 minutes).”
- Anabelle Bernard Fournier, Hummingbird604

"Contralto Natalie Burdeny carries the lyricism of the aria beautifully and has the maturity to convey the sadness and desperation of trying to get from a bed of weeds to a garden of love and happiness."Lisa Barrett, Plank Magazine

"The show left me touched and sad, a good sign that the singers conveyed the emotions well. I had a great time and I recommend it to opera newbies and buffs alike." Anabelle Bernard Fournier, Hummingbird604

"The show scene is a witty triumph itself with a naked* Sam singing about the glories of being a winner." - Lisa Barrett, Plank Magazine

* Just a little clarification on the quote above. There is no actual nudity in this show but maybe a little "teaser" which is what the critic above is referring to. You'll just have to come see it for yourself to understand what that's all about!

We have 5 performances left and 10% of proceeds to to the Vancouver Food Bank on Friday night! Show your support and keep opera at the Fringe!

Tuesday, September 13 @ 7:15pm
Thursday, September 15 @ 7:00pm
Friday, September 16 @ 11:00pm
Saturday, September 17 @ 11:00pm
Sunday, September 18 @ 7:15pm

Tickets Online: Tickets may be purchased online up to 4 hours before showtime.
At the Door: Tickets are available at the door 45 minutes before curtain. CASH ONLY!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fringe is in full swing!

So the Vancouver International Fringe Festival is in full swing and VanCOCO is having a blast. Over the past few days we have had the pleasure of meeting some really awesome people; both audience members and cast and crew from other shows.

Ed Moran (Sam) and Natalie Burdeny (Dinah)
checking out the Sanny Board Forest
on Granville Island
Thursday night after our final music rehearsal we all headed down to Performance Works on Granville Island to take part in the "Fringe For All". Along with about 40 other presenters we gave the audience a 2 minute accapella snip-it of Trouble In Tahiti to entice Fringe-goers to circle our show in their Fringe Guide and come and experience Opera at the Fringe.

The most exciting news though is that we had our first performance yesterday! We had a great turnout and we were ecstatic to feel the pulse of a live audience laughing and gasping in all the right places! The entire cast and crew left the theatre after the performance pleased as peacocks! Oh, and we even signed a few autographs at the end! FUN!!!!

After the frantic strike we headed down to the FringeBar at Agro Cafe on Granville Island for a much deserved glass of wine, a few beers, and some delicious munchies. Afterward we went our respective ways to go and see the shows that interested us the most.

Ed Moran (Sam) took in an impromptu performance at the Agro Cafe Wild Canyon Stage (???) of "Say Wha" a collection of literature that once read actually insites the words "Say Wha". His favorite quote of the evening was from a magazine that said, "You are the ball bearing rolling around in the glass house inside of me"...Say Wha?

Natalie Burdeny (Dinah) and Kathy Gable (Musical Director) took in two otheer shows that evening: "You are not Dead: A Guide to Modern Living" at the Granville Island Hotel and "This is Cancer" at Performance Works. Both were equally entertaining, however Natalie said that "This is Cancer" was exceptional! She didn't know whether to love it or hate it as she laughed and shed a tear or two. "You'll feel moments of extreme discomfort and joy.... if I were to recommend a show... it would be This is Cancer!", she said.

Trouble In Tahiti has 7 more runs and you can get the full schedule on our website ( We invite you to head on down to the Firehall Arts Centre... in the words of the surprise critic who came to our show last night... "I'm glad I came!" Don't miss it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Take a photo and WIN tickets to Trouble In Tahiti!

Kate Wilkins, Festival Assistant
Today was Artist Check-In at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival tent on Granville Island! We arrived early of course, and there was already a line-up! The ever so friendly and sweet Kate was there to help us get oriented and answer the million and one questions we had!

We claimed our "sanny-board" (#11a) and now we have a challenge for you! In the next few days, the "sanny-boards" will be circulating around Granville Island. If you want to WIN two tickets to a performance of Trouble In Tahiti  all you have to do is:

(a) Find our "sanny-board" (Hint: It's #11a)
(b) Take a photo with you and our "sanny-board"
(c) Email your photo and name to info [at] vancoco [dot] ca by Wednesday, September 14th!

The "Sanny-Boards"
We will randomly draw two winners on Thursday, Sept. 15th for our 11pm shows on Sept. 16 and 17 respectively. Boards will begin circulating in another day or two so be sure to go snap your shot and check out some of the other fantastic Fringe shows both on and off the Island!

Interested in other ways to win tickets? Local social media guru Hummingbird604 is doing a giveaway and you can check it out by clicking "here".

And... to the 100th person who "follows us" on Twitter, we'll be giving away another 2 free tickets!

Can't wait to see your photos! This should be FRINGE-TASTIC!!!!


The first photo has been submitted!
Madeline Hannan-Leith!!! Great shot!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tech Day at the Firehall Arts Centre

We are excited to say we are all moved into the theatre, unpacked and just about ready to go. We spent the majority of the day on Saturday positioning our set and hanging our lights. Sound cues have been worked out and projections are in place. We're in great shape for our dress rehearsal tonight.

We are so glad that we have such an awesome Technical Team. Here is a pic of our Lighting Designer Phil Schulze hard at work in the rafters making sure that you can see our shiny faces on stage. But he is just one of the fantastic team members helping us put together this show.

Joining us again are Anthony Wade-Cooper as our Stage Manager and Wayne Gilbart as our ASM. Corwin Ferguson from Awkward Stage Productions also lent us a hand with our projections, and the folks at the Firehall were also hard at work making us look and sound great!

A big thanks to everyone who has helped along the way! We open in just a few days and we hope that you will all enjoy this show as much as we have enjoyed putting it together.

And... for those who enjoyed our segment on "Paul's Amazing Socks" we thought you'd enjoy this photo! We're not sure how he managed to coordinate this, but Paul's Socks even matched the set. Guess you will have to come and see the show to believe it. And, if you ask nicely, we're sure Paul will gladly lift his trousers to give you a peek at the "Sock-du-Jour". (Note we said "lift" and not "drop"!)

Check out our website for a complete listing of showtimes and ticket information.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Paul's Amazing Socks

We know what you are thinking... What do Paul's socks have to do with Opera, Trouble in Tahiti, or even the Fringe Festival for that matter. The answer is simple... NOTHING! Except that they are just plain awesome!!!

Paul is always dressed like a dashing model for American Eagle, but this week during rehearsals we have been privy to some of his fantastic sock collection and we thought everyone should get the chance to experience Paul's Amazing Socks!
Don't miss your opportunity to see Paul at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. Maybe if you ask nicely he will show you his AWESOME SOCKS!

Trouble in Tahiti moves into the theatre today, so we will have some sneak peak shots on Monday for those of you who can't wait for the opening night!

Don't forget... we open on September 9th and tickets are available at as well as the the Fringe Box Office on Granville Island!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bright and Early at CBC Radio Studio 3!

Hey VanCOCO Fans! We just wanted to let you know to keep an ear out for our radio spot which will be airing on CBC Radio over the next couple of weeks to promote Trouble In Tahiti at the Vancouver International Fringe Festival. We sang our first notes of the day in CBC Recording Studio 3 and managed to get in a two minute sound byte of music from the show to entice fans over to Firehall Arts Centre. From the looks of it, the cast quite enjoyed the experience.

We are also very excited that we finished the day with our Designer Run where fellow actor/director Andy Maton, our Lighting Designer Phil Schulze, and the rest of our crew showed up to watch the show and provide us with some audience feedback and a fresh perspective on the production that we have been preparing for our new Fringe Audience. We managed to squeeze in two top-to-bottom runs yesterday and it was so exciting to see the continued energy and breath being put into this living work of art.

Don't forget... we open on September 9th and tickets are available at as well as the the Fringe Box Office on Granville Island!

Check back tomorrow for a feature on Paul's Socks!