David Broza, left, and Ali Paris will perform in concert. (photo from Chutzpah! Festival)
Tickets are now on sale for the 17th annual Chutzpah! Lisa Nemetz International Jewish Performing Arts Festival, which will run from Feb. 16 to March 13, at venues including Rothstein Theatre, York Theatre, Scotiabank Dance Centre and the Biltmore Cabaret.
“We are all excited for another year of presenting an electrifying array of internationally acclaimed dancers, musicians, comedians and theatrical artists to our audiences in Canadian, Western Canadian and world premières. We’re headed for an energizing and thrilling journey from stand-up comedy to theatrical drama to rich global music to explosive and elegant dance!” said Mary-Louise Albert, Chutzpah!’s artistic and managing director.
As it does every year, the 2017 Chutzpah! Festival dance series presents some of the most sought-after contemporary choreographers in the world. This year’s performances include the return of Italy’s Spellbound Contemporary Ballet with their full-length Carmina Burana; Israel’s Yossi Berg and Oded Graf Dance Theatre with their acclaimed 4Men, Alice, Bach and the Deer; and Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion (United States) brings a mixed repertoire of some of Kyle Abraham’s most popular works in their Western Canadian première. Vancouver’s Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art première their completed and full-length version of Telemetry, while local choreographer and performer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg and Italy’s award-winning Silvia Gribaudi navigate the role of comedy as a catalyst to questions of gender, culture and language and understanding – this is world première presented with the Dance Centre. As well, in Chutzpah! Plus (May 13-14), there is Birds Sing a Pretty Song (Canada/United States/Israel/Argentina), an exploration through dance, film, interactive media and live music created by Rebecca Margolick and Maxx Berkowitz during a yearlong fellowship in New York City with LABA: A Laboratory for New Jewish Culture.
Among the Chutzpah! Festival 2017 musical highlights is Grammy-winners the Klezmatics 30th Anniversary Tour (United States). In concert together will be David Broza, whose music reflects the three different countries in which he was raised (Israel, Spain and England), and Ali Paris, who fuses Middle Eastern and Western music styles, and plays the qanun, a rare 76-string zither that dates back to the 14th century. Also in concert together will be Shalom Hanoch – touted as “the King of Israeli Rock” and compared to musicians such as Neil Young and Mick Jagger – who will be joined on stage by his longtime music producer, partner and keyboard player Moshe Levi.
Now based out of Chicago, Marbin, founded by Israeli guitarist Dani Rabin and Israeli saxophonist Danny Markovitch, is a progressive jazz-rock band, and MNGWA [ming-wah] opens their performance, mixing elements of psychedelic rock, dub, African rhythms, and vocals in four languages. Israeli singer Maya Avraham, who is known by Chutzpah! audiences from her performances with the Idan Raichel Project, comes to Vancouver with her band of Israeli and American musicians, and Lyla Canté (United States/Israel/Japan/Argentina) also joins the festival – exploring the intersection of Sephardi, flamenco and Ashkenazi music. For Chutzpah! Plus (April 2), composer Landon Braverman and Friends put on an evening of musical theatre – while currently based in New York, Braverman is originally from Vancouver.
With respect to theatre, one of this year’s Chutzpah! highlights is Wrestling Jerusalem, created and performed by Aaron Davidman. Set in America, Israel and Palestine, the play follows one man’s journey to help understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Davidman’s solo performance is a personal story that grapples with the complexities of identity, history and social justice.
Another theatre draw is Folk Lordz, high-speed and multicultural improv featuring two members of Edmonton-based Rapid Fire Theatre, which was co-created by Todd Houseman and Ben Gorodetsky and brings together the unlikely combination of Cree storytelling, Chekhovian character drama and spontaneous comedy.
Comedy highlights include Mark Schiff (United States), who has headlined major casinos and clubs and has appeared many times on both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman. He has had HBO and Showtime specials, was a featured act at the Montreal Comedy Festival and regularly opens for Jerry Seinfeld.
Also on the comedy front, there is a double bill: Ali Hassan and Judy Gold. Canada’s Hassan appears in his one-man show Muslim Interrupted; Hassan is a stand-up comedian, actor, chef and radio and television celebrity, and is the host of Laugh Out Loud on CBC Radio and SIRIUSXM. Gold’s (United States) most recent TV appearances include guest-starring roles on Louie, Broad City, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Inside Amy Schumer, and she has a recurring role on the upcoming series on TBS Search Party. Gold has had stand-up specials on HBO (Cable Ace Award), Comedy Central and LOGO and was twice nominated for the American Comedy Award for funniest female comedian.
After the success of Chutzpah’s first literary event in 2016, this year’s Chutzpah! features author Christopher Noxon in Hollywood Stories, a special pre-festival event. Noxon is an author, journalist and illustrator and his humorous and unflinching Plus One is a novel about an interfaith family set in contemporary Los Angeles. Noxon is married to television writer and producer Jenji Kohan, creator of Orange is the New Black. This event is presented with the Cherie Smith JCC Jewish Book Festival and will take place on Feb. 5.
Single tickets for Chutzpah! range from $23 to $50 and are on sale now from chutzpahfestival.com, the festival box office, 604-257-5145, or Tickets Tonight, 604-684-2787. Chutzi Packs are also available – see four different shows for $94 – and new this year is a special five-show dance pack for $115.
Tickets will be available in-person starting Jan. 30 at the on-site festival box office at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver. For hours and other information, visit chutzpahfestival.com.