Music Monday: The Songs of East Van Panto

Music Monday: The Songs of East Van Panto

Check out all the songs given an East Van spin in this year’s East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz. Musical Director, and composer, Veda Hille is infamous for taking some of the most (and least) popular songs of recent decades and flipping them on their heads with new arrangements and lyrics to add a little pizzazz to Theatre Replacement’s winter tradition. Take a listen to the original songs that have inspired the music of this year’s Panto soundtrack, then come hear our versions at the York Theatre! Scroll through this awesome list of golden age videos and live performances, or check out this Spotify playlist if you’re on the go!

Gloria by Laura Branigan

Valerie by Steve Winwood

This is America by Childish Gambino

Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and The Waves

Downtown by Petula Clark

Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg

Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers

Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin

All Night by Big Boi

Ding Dong The Witch is Dead by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg

Macarena by Los del Rio

In My Feelings by Drake

Swish Swish by Katy Perry

Footloose by Kenny Loggins

Daydream Believer by The Monkees

ABC by The Jackson 5

I Want You Back by The Jackson 5

Teen Titans Go To The Movies by Lil Yachty

Ballroom Blitz by Sweet

Sweet Transvestite by Richard O’Brien

Time Warp by Richard O’Brien

East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz is onstage now at the York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive – must close Jan 6, 2019! Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Ghosts of Scrooges past!

Ghosts of Scrooges Past!

The story of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, is one of the best known and best loved Christmas stories. This beloved tale of redemption has been told and retold in many forms, from traditional tellings, to those that are down right brazen.

Esmé Massengill

Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens, which opened this week in the Historic Theatre falls firmly in the brazen category, with beloved Daisy Theatre character—the booze loving, faded and jaded Diva—Esmé Massengill, taking on the role of legendary miser, Scrooge.

In this role, so perfectly suited to her, Esmé Massengill joins the ranks of so many other celebrities who have taken on the challenge of playing Dickens’ Ebeneezer Scrooge (we think she does it best!).

Here is a look at a few other famous faces that have taken on this legendary role. Esmé is in good company!

Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.


Cultch Connects: making a difference in our community!

Cultch Connects: making a difference in our community!

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to our Cultch Connects program so far this year, you have made a very real difference in our community and we are so grateful for your support! This year has seen donations more than double, providing hundreds of free tickets to children, families and local organizations.

If you haven’t donated yet, we are excited to announce that our anonymous match-funder has made a new promise to match all donations made to our Cultch Connects program by January 07 2019, AND our Board of Directors have pledged to double all donations, which means all donations will be tripled!

For many of our Cultch Connects families, their trip to The Cultch is the first time they have ever seen a play. We believe that art is for everyone, and income or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in the arts. Our Cultch Connects program provides opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to come to the theatre to experience the joy of live performance.

Since the East Van Panto: The Wizard of Oz opened last week we have had more than ten community groups come to see the show at no cost, including includes Mom2Mom, the Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society, the Kettle Friendship Society, and Aunt Leah’s place, among others.


By becoming a Cultch donor, you could have access to exclusive donor benefits, including a tax deductible receipt, discounts, access to special events, and more! Find out what your gift could mean for you here.

Little Dickens: The Holiday Hit is BACK!


Little Dickens: The Holiday Hit is BACK!

Back by popular demand—Ronnie Burkett’s holiday hit Little Dickens: The Daisy Theatre returns to The Cultch Historic Theatre Dec 4-22, 2018.

In December 2017, Ronnie Burkett premiered this Cultch exclusive, Little Dickens—an adults-only marionette rendition of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol created specifically for the amazing Vancouver audiences who embraced The Daisy Theatre characters in five sold-out runsto the Historic Stage. It was a huge hit with fans, old and new, as well as reviewers!

Check out some of the RAVE reviews from 2017interspersed with an insider look at Ronnie Burkett’s sweet and raunchy characters, direct from his Instagram @ronnieburkett:

“The Dickens story provides a solid platform for Burkett’s high-strung irreverence, but it also has a core of sweetness and generosity that make this show a genuine gift. Enjoy it, Vancouver” — Kathleen Oliver, The Georgia Straight

“The familiar characters from his bizarre repertoire ring a showbiz variation on Dickens’ tale that’s…warmer and fuzzier in a Christmassy way, punctuated by raunchy asides and moments of sheer Burkettian brilliance”—Jerry Wasserman, The Vancouver Sun

“Puppeteer Ronnie Burkett is a genius. He just is…I would watch Schnitzel all night long anywhere” — Colin Thomas,

“Ronnie Burkett’s Little Dickens is a retelling of A Christmas Carol but with more bah-hum-buggery, fewer heartwarming lessons in morality, and a whole lot of excellent banter” — Connal Mcnamara, Vancouver Weekly

I’d recommend seeing it twice because it’s guaranteed you’ll be laughing so hard you’ll have missed some of the great lines the first time around” — Monika Forberger,

“It was a delight to see Dickens’s timeless characters given a glorious and slightly smutty twist” — Molly Gray, The Vancouver Arts Review

View this post on Instagram

In her gender defying performance as Scrooge in Little Dickens last season, Daisy Theatre superstar Esmé Massengill appeared in a stunning red redemption gown at the end of the show. It was pretty wow, but given that Mrs.Edna Rural essentially stole the show in her light up Christmas tree costume, it was decided to give Esmé a new and “WOW”ier final costume. Kim Crossley, who has made my puppet costumes for almost three decades, came to Puppetland this week, and in two days – voilà! – Miss Massengill shines anew. And in Esmé’s own words, “What tops a Christmas tree, darling? A star, that’s what!” . . #esmemassengill #thedaisytheatre #littledickens #thedaisytheatrechristmascarol #esmeplaysscrooge #costumedesign #puppetdesign #puppetbuilder #theatredesign #maketheyuletidegay #instagay #acchristmascarol #bahhumbugdarling #ronnieburketttheatreofmarionettes

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“…bold storytelling, black humour, and unscripted razor-edged dialogue” — John Jane, reviewVancouver

“I guarantee…you will not have seen anything like this before. It is visually spectacular, exceptionally well executed and truly special to behold” — Penny Warwick, Two Pence & Two Cents

“It’s foul-mouthed fun backed by artistic wizardry, and it’s entertaining as hell” —Lillian Jasper, Two Pence & Two Cents

“Burkett had the crowd laughing along heartily as his marionettes refreshed this classic with their inventive songs and quirky personalities” — Tessa Perkins Deneault, Centre Stage

Are you ready to see your favourite Daisy Theatre characters in in the merriest marionette mash-up again? It is almost time!

Little Dickens runs Dec 4 – 22, 2018 at the Historic Theatre, 1895 Venables Street. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363.

Rungh. Means. Colour: an interview with our Community Partner

Photo courtesy of: Rungh Archive

Rungh came onto the scene in the early nineties, as a quarterly magazine that held its focus on South Asian Culture, Comment and Criticism. It provided an outlet for marginalized communities to express their opinions, experiences and art and held space to challenge dominant narratives. 26 years on, Rungh has relaunched as an online platform that continues to challenge diversity in the arts and create conversations that encourage cultural growth within Canada. We spoke with co-founder and editor of Rungh, Zool Suleman, to learn more!

Can you tell us a little bit about Rungh, for those who may not have heard of it yet?

Rungh is a word which means “colour” in many languages. Our new tag line is “Rungh. Means. Colour”. If you speak one of the languages (Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Farsi, and more) you will know! Rungh started as a non profit society and a print magazine in 1992. Rungh also hosted and produced arts events like readings, workshops, creative productions, and fostered a variety of conversations. Rungh also protested against how Canada’s arts institutions worked. We still do that! From 1992-1999, Rungh had a print publication which you can still see on our site in the Archives section, or at the Simon Fraser University Digital Library site. Rungh was relaunched as a cultural web platform in 2017. 26 years old and also, brand new.

What inspired you to create the first issue, all those years ago, back in 1992?

Photo Credit: Ali Kazimi

Rungh was inspired by an absence of voices in Canada’s cultural landscape. These voices today are referred to as IBPOC (Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour) – this term, also, does not do justice to the range of absences which exist. Rungh’s relaunch is committed to looking at the intersectional conversations that need to be had on the Canadian arts scene be they defined by race, gender, sexuality, geography, class, power and otherwise.

How, would you say, the conversation in the arts has changed over the last thirty years?

In many ways, the conversation has not changed, sadly. But, in other ways, the conversation now tries to include and centre Indigenous voices. Rungh is an incubation partner with a new set of conversations which are taking place under the heading of Primary Colours/Couleurs Primaires. The focus of PC/cp is to centre Indigenous voices in the middle of the Canadian art system. Rungh is a part of that journey and has published several pieces on this journey. In the future, more content focusing on this necessary transition within Canada’s art systems will be found in Rungh.

Have you seen any firsthand accounts of how Rungh has impacted its audiences?

Rungh has played a vital role in creating and documenting conversations, and creative work around ideas of “multiculturalism”, “race”, “belonging” and more over the past 25 years. I put these terms in quotation marks because the terms themselves are sites of contestation. A significant part of Rungh’s mission, with it’s relaunch, has been to activate it’s archive. Records of what racialized and otherwise marginalized voices have contributed to the Canadian art system continue to be lost, if they are kept at all. These histories are vital and Rungh is working to secure and foster work founded on Rungh’s archive but also to help other similarly situated communities to do so. Our notions of who makes “art” and “culture” in Canada, need to change.

Artistic credit: David Garneau

What are your thoughts on the diversity within Vancouver’s theatre community, as it stands at the moment? Have you seen an improvement in the last few years?

Rungh is about to publish a conversation with Rohit Chokhani, Jiv Parasram, Kathleen Flaherty, Rahul Varma, and Zahida Rahemtulla. If you do not know who they are, look them up. Between them, they encompass different generations, different geographies, and differing views about what we call “theatre”. In terms of what could be called “South Asian theatre in Canada”, this is only one slice of an ongoing conversation. My sense, as the person who asked the questions, is that the ethic of how work is produced about/by/within South Asian communities continues to evolve. The production scenes in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, are quite different. There are many voices wanting to be heard. Avoiding generalities and providing cultural specificity in theatre/performance works about “South Asians”, might be of more use in defining conversations. I urge the readers to read the interview in Rungh when it is published. Join our free mailing list at

Stop press! All donations made Nov 27 – 30 will be tripled!

Giving Tuesday: Stop press! All donations made Nov 27 – 30 will be tripled!

This year we are in a unique position:

An anonymous match-funder has pledged to match all donations made to our Cultch Connects program, doubling the impact of any gift made


The Cultch Board of Directors have pledged to double all donations made to our Cultch Connects program from Giving Tuesday on November 27 until November 30.

This means that all gifts made during this four day period will be tripled!

Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering, that sees charities, companies and individuals join together and rally for favourite causes. It harnesses the collective power of organizations and individuals to encourage and amplify small (and sometimes large) acts of kindness.

Our Cultch Connects program provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need. This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet, giving more free tickets to children, low-income families and community organizations than ever before.

The Cultch Board Chair, Frank Costanzo says “I first got involved with The Cultch because I grew up in East Vancouver and I am passionate about the arts. As the Board Chair, I have the privilege of working with a group of dedicated professionals who care deeply about helping the Cultch. Match-funding any donation made on giving Tuesday is a way for the Board to really give back to the community”.

Make a gift November 27 – 30 for the biggest impact and make so many holidays so much brighter!


It’s behind you! (oh no it isn’t!): The history of the East Van Panto

It’s official, the most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching. Everything at Starbucks has turned a garish shade of red, and all the drinks are spiked with EggNog. Pacific Centre will soon start lulling their shoppers into a state of hypnotized spending surrender with the repetitive tones of Jingle Bells. And the Ugly Christmas Sweater party season has been in full swing for so long that we haven’t even put ours away from last year yet.

As you know, here at The Cultch, we like to put our own twist on the holiday season. In fact, we like to turn it completely on its head with our incredible winter programming (can you say Little Dickens?!?). And this year marks the sixth anniversary of on of our favourite holiday treat: Theatre Replacement’s East Van Panto.

So, what better time to take a look back at the last few years of glorious pantomiming? Let’s reminisce about all the weird and wonderful ways that Theatre Replacement has created a home-grown East Van tradition that just keeps getting bigger and better every year.

Okay, here we go…


2017 brought us the delightful Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Written by Mark Chavez, directed by Anita Rochon, with music and lyrics by Veda Hille. The Georgia Straight described it as “a hyperlocal and wonderfully creative reimagining of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” It featured some of the years biggest hits including Despacito and Can’t Stop This Feeling – all rewritten to have a more East Van flair, of course.

Spotlight on: The Dame

With every panto comes a Dame – an over the top female character always played by a man. Snow White’s Dame was played by Alan Zinyk in the role of The Evil Stepmother – the Real Housewife of West Vancouver.


2016 Panto audiences were enthralled with Little Red Riding Hood, whose adventures took her along the Adanac bike path on the search for Grandma’s house, at the Woodwards Building.

Spotlight on: the Studio 58 students

Every year, the East Van Panto plucks three, willing, Studio 58 students from their highly regarded conservatory style performance program, and plops them onto the York stage in the most ridiculous costumes. The aim is to flesh out the cast with three up and coming, pre professional actors and give the students some stage time in a professional, Vancouver production. In 2016, the lucky three were: Stephanie Wong, Elizabeth Barrett and Mason Temple who donned their brussel sprout and hot dog costumes with the upmost of professionalism.


Hansel and Gretel stole the show in 2015 with a Vancouver version of their perilous plight. After being dropped off in the wilderness of Stanley Park by their evil food-blogger stepmother, the sibling duo ran into a hippie witch who captured them and fattened Hansel up in preparation to consume him. Naturally, hilarity ensued.


Spotlight on: The Kids

Pantomimes are traditionally a family affair. And not just in the audience, but also on the stage. Each year, the East Van Panto enlists fifteen kids, in five groups of three, to take it in turns to don adorable costumes and make their stage debuts. In Hansel and Gretel, the children appeared as cute, fluffy woodland creatures as well as an army of gingerbread men (still cute, but also slightly ominous).


The East Van version of everyone’s favorite Disney movie came to life on stage in 2014. With a saxophone playing Cinderella, ugly stepsisters with vinyl collections, and a suspiciously Trump like King, this version was perhaps slightly ahead of its time.

Spotlight on: The Music

Since the East Van Panto’s conception in 2013, local musician, composer, and genius: Vede Hille has provided the score. Vede is infamous for taking well loved pop songs and giving them an East Vancouver flavor. Check out how she spun this T-Swift classic.


And so we come to the end of our journey through time. Back to the OG East Van Pantomime. One thing we can say for certain is our graphic design has come along way. Jack And The Beanstalk, the first production of its kind here in Vancouver, also marked the first production in the newly renovated York Theatre. It was a huge hit that would go on to spark a new tradition in East Van that would last for (at least) six years.

Spotlight on: The Set

Since the beginning of the East Van Panto incredible local artist, Laura Zerebeski, has provided the backdrops. Her incredible, impressionist interpretations of East Van’s landmarks provide the weird and wonderful worlds that our characters live in.

And there we have it, some blasts from the past of the East Van Panto. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed taking this stroll down memory lane with us. If you can’t get enough of the East Van Panto, there’s another lane that you can stroll down with us very soon – and this time, it’s yellow! Get your tickets for the East Van Panto: Wizard of Oz right here. 


By Charlotte Wright

Community Outreach and Marketing Intern

Cultch Connects funds veterans to attend the Ceasefire Series

Cultch Connects funds veterans to attend the Ceasefire Series

Last week our Cultch Connects donors made a real difference in our community by giving veterans and seniors from our community partner The Whole Way House free tickets to our Ceasefire Series. Our Cultch Connects program provides free tickets to our holiday hit the East Van Panto and other shows throughout our season to people in need in our community. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

“All of the men have enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the building and attend a play – something most of them haven’t done in many, many years. Thank you for giving them this opportunity.” The Whole Way House team

Whole Way House Society provides community building programs and tenant support services for 133 vulnerable seniors and veterans in the Downtown Eastside. Whole Way House is dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment, building meaningful relationships and a community that instills worth, value and dignity. The veterans and seniors saw all three shows in the series, SmallWar, Three Winters, and The Believers Are But Brothers, which marked the 100 year anniversary of the armistice of World War One.

Each year, our donors give 2,000 free tickets to children, low-income families and community organizations. We believe that art is for everyone, and income or life circumstances should never be a barrier to participation in live performance.

By making a gift this year, you can help make more tickets available than ever before. This year will be our most ambitious Cultch Connects fundraising campaign yet. Donate by the deadline on November 30 2018, and our anonymous match-funder will double your gift!

The Cultch is also collecting donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, clothing and fitted twin bed sheets in our lobby until November 17. If you would like to make a donation of any of these items, please bring them to The Cultch.

A time for Remembrance: Theatre as a means for survival

A time for Remembrance: Theatre as a means for survival

This month, The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

As part of our Ceasefire Series we are please to present the world premiere of Amiel Gladstone’s Three Winters. Three Winters is a highly theatrical case for the creation of art as a means to survive, inspired by the experiences of Amiel Gladstone’s grandfathers who was a prisoner in Stalag Luft III POW camp—made famous by 1963 film The Great Escape. One of the ways the men in the POW camp survived was by making theatre.

“If it weren’t for their ability to make theatre, my Grandpa said he would have died in those WWII POW camps. This play is about that reality, told with immediacy and connection.” — Amiel Gladstone

Though not commonly known, theatre was one of several ways that men in the trenches, and men in POW camps kept themselves occupied during war. Early this year, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow (MOCAK) exhibited Lagertheater  an exhibition about theatre in concentration camps and POW camps, about which they say: “The assembled documentation reveals how difficult it was – in spite of the radical methods of extermination used – to extinguish the prisoners’ sense of their inner worth, which they expressed through the creative act.”

Amiel Gladstone’s play, Three Winters, has an all-female cast as a way of re-contextualizing this tale of war. “I became very interested in how much of a statement that was about why we make art and its importance…I got interested in how it was all men acting in those places and decided to reverse it to a cast of all young women. They aren’t used to playing war heroes anymore than my 22 year-old grandfather was in his POW situation,” says Gladstone.

Cross dressing was common in prisoner of war camps as well as in theatre for soldiers at the front. Some men became famous for their female impersonations, as shown in these archival photos images:

The idea of theatre as a means for survival is alive and well today. Theatre has used in many therapeutic ways from Drama Therapy, to helping Veterans who are suffering from PTSD, to theatre in refugee camps.

The cast of Three Winters…performing as men performing theatre in a POW camp! Photo by Emily Cooper

Three Winters runs Nov 7-17 at the Historic Theatre. Book tickets online or by phone by calling The Cultch Box Office at 604.251.1363. See all three Ceasefire Series shows for as low as $65 with The Cultch’s Choose 3 Subscription package.

A time for Remembrance: Women in War

A time for Remembrance: Women in War

This month, The Cultch is presenting the Ceasefire Series: an exploration of war to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of WWI. The series features three unique shows that explore the causes, effects, and traumas of war from different lenses; one taking place during WWI (SmallWaR), one taking place during WWII (Three Winters), and one taking place in contemporary times (The Believers Are But Brothers). We hope you will come and enjoy all three!

Inspired by Amiel Gladstone’s fictional recontextualization of his grandfather’s war experience in Three Winters, Outreach Intern, Charlotte Wright, wanted to share the story of her own grandmother’s heroic journey in WWII.

After seeing any of the shows in this series, if you would like to share your reflections, memories, or stories, please email us at

As we approach a very special Remembrance Day we are flooded with images and stories of the incredible and heroic soldiers that gave their lives. But, as important as it is to remember the two generations of men that were ravaged by two world wars, it’s also important not to forget the women – who weren’t just left behind, but who were fighting battles of their own.

Marija Rudzites, my Grandmother, was imprisoned in a Nazi labour camp at the age of 17 near Riga, Latvia. When she spoke about her time there, which wasn’t often, she remembered pushing what little food she had through a barbed wire fence into the hands of the starving children in the concentration camp on the other side.

Upon her release, when Latvia was “liberated” from Nazi rule by the Soviets, she was given a choice: stay or leave. She, alone, chose to leave. She walked across war ridden Eastern Europe, leaving her entire family behind. She spent her days trekking across the continent for months on end; she spent her nights sleeping in fields and barns in the dead of winter, avoiding air raids that lit up the night sky like fireworks. I don’t know much about what else she faced on this journey, as she didn’t speak about it much, but I’m sure the horrors that I can picture don’t even begin to come close.

When she finally arrived at her destination, England, she was alone in a country where the language was not one of the three others that she spoke. After securing a job working in a hospital kitchen, she began to study. Before long, she hadn’t just mastered this new language; she had also been appointed one of the top nurses in the hospital. She returned to Latvia once, just before I was born. I am told that as soon as she got off of the plane, she knelt on the floor and kissed the ground – so grateful to have finally come home.

Photo by Emily Cooper

It’s not often that we hear the stories of the women that lived through these wars. We often forget to consider our grandmothers just as deserving of hero status as our grandfathers. People find it unusual that the events that take place in Three Winters are being told by women, when all the experiences were had by men. But the women were there too. Women lived and died too. Besides, at the end of the day when all the men were gone, who was left behind to tell their stories?