Five can’t-miss events at this year’s Chutzpah! Festival

Sidra Bell Dance New York. Photo courtesy Chutzpah! Festival.

Sidra Bell Dance New York. Photo courtesy Chutzpah! Festival.

The annual Chutzpah! Festival is a showcase of international Jewish performing arts. Each year, the festival attracts internationally renowned performers in the fields of dance, comedy, theatre and music.

This year’s Chutzpah happens Feb. 22 – March 9 at various venues around town, and features some world-class entertainment. Let’s look at some highlights.

Dudu Tassa and The Kuwaitis – Dudu Tassa is an Iraqi-Jewish musician based in Israel, where he’s a major figure in that country’s rock scene. If he’s got issues, it’s safe to say he works them out in music with a band that includes qanun (a Middle Eastern string instrument), violin and cello along with the usual guitar-bass-drums configuration. March 9 at 8 p.m., Vancouver FanClub, 1050 Granville St. Tickets: $30, $25 for students.

Hirsch – Chronicling the life of theatre director John Hirsch, Hirsch makes its West Coast premiere with Chutzpah! Hirsch is a renowned director who was orphaned by the Holocaust but who found sanctuary in Winnipeg. The play premiered in 2012 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and enjoyed a successful run at the 2013 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Feb. 25-March 1, Tues-Frid at 8 p.m. and Sat at 5 and 9 p.m at Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova St. Tickets: $25, $20 for seniors and students.

25 Questions for a Jewish Mother – Judy Gold’s Off-Broadway laff fest that draws on her memories of growing up in suburban New Jersey as well as interviews with other moms. Gold’s credentials include two Emmy Awards for writing and producing The Rosie O’Donnell Show. Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Vancouver Playhouse, 600 Hamilton St. Tickets: $36.

Yemen Blues – These guys sold out their Chutzpah! show last year, so they’re back for two more performances. The percussion-heavy ensemble blends various international influences into an exciting, danceable whole. Feb 27 & 28 at 7 p.m., Venue Nightclub, 881 Granville St. Tickets: $30, $25 for students.

Sidra Bell Dance New York – Part of Chutzpah!plus, this dance performance takes place at the end of March, following the official end of Chutzpah! The show marks the return of New York choreographer Sidra Bell following a well-received performance at last year’s Chutzpah! This time out, Bell – who is known for provocative, unconventional work with a strong female vision - takes part in two shows, including a co-presentation with Vancouver’s The Dance Centre. March 27 & 28 at 8 p.m., March 29 at 2 & 8 p.m. (post-performance talk-back Friday March 28) at Dance Centre, 677 Davie St. Tickets: $28, $24 (senior), $20 (student).

Tickets for festival performances are available at chutzpahfestival.com or by calling 604-257-5145 or 604-684-2787.

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