The Chutzpah Festival is a performing arts festival hosted by the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver at the Norman Rothstein Theatre each year.
The Chutzpah! Festival
Pronounced with a silent “C” and featuring theatre, music and dance, the Chutzpah Festival, in recent years, has taken place between mid-February and mid-March. As of 2019, however, its dates shifted from its usual spring season to the fall.
In 2019 the Chutzpah Festival ran from October 24th until November 24th. In 2020, because of the coronavirus, it was just running from November 21st to 28th and the shows were all online. Details are to be confirmed for 2021.
For details about the virtual event in 2020 see the Chutzpah Festival website.
In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, Chutzpah Festival performances take place primarily at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver’s 318-seat Norman Rothstein Theatre, but also sometimes at other venues including the Vogue Theatre, the WISE Hall and Rickshaw Theatre.
The Norman Rothstein Theatre is located at 950 West 41st Avenue in Vancouver.
About the Chutzpah Festival
The Chutzpah Festival draws talented musicians, comedians, dancers and actors from around the world including from Israel, New Zealand, Italy and the United States. Ticket prices usually range from $24 to around $60.
To give you an idea of what to expect, performances and show times for the 2019 season are listed below.
Note: Show times and details were subject to change.
Comedy Performances in 2019
The list of Chutzpah Festival comedy shows for 2019 were the following. We expect 2021 details to be comparable.
- Iris Bahr – an award-winning writer, actor, director and producer. This comedian brought her critically acclaimed stand-up performances to wow Canadian crowds. She performed at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on November 12th and 13th at 8:00 pm.
- Schticks & Giggles – featuring several comedy performers such as Kyle Berger (host), Ivan Decker, John Cullen, Lisa Person, Yisrael Shurack and more. They performed on November 19th at the Norman Rothstein Theatre at 8:30 pm.
Dance Performances in 2019
Dance performances at the Chutzpah Festival in 2019 included the following:
- ProArteDanza – a contemporary ballet performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Award-winning choreographers Robert Glumbek and Roberto Campanella presented a refreshing and dynamic ballet. The performances were at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on October 26th and 28th at 8:00 pm and October 27th at 2:00 pm.
- MM Contemporary Dance – Italy’s MM Contemporary Dance Company performed at the Chutzpah! Festival with the Canadian premieres of Gershwin Suites and Schubert Frames. This performance was at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on November 1st and 4th at 8:00 pm, November 2nd at 2:00 pm and November 3rd at 7:00 pm.
- UNA Projects – the Canadian premiere of Coloring, a dance performance intertwined with themes of identity, unity and mutual respect of queer histories. Through this performance, it was the hope that commonalities rather than differences are uncovered. The show was at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on November 15th and 16th at 8:00 pm and November 17th at 7:00 pm.
Musical Performances in 2019
Concerts and musical performances at the Chutzpah Festival in 2019 included the following:
- Daniel Cainer – an award-winning songwriter, broadcaster and storyteller based in London. He performed at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on October 24th at 8:00 pm.
- Rami Kleinstein – one of Israel’s most well-known Pop superstars. A multiple award-winning performer who was making his Canadian premiere at the Chutzpah! Festival, he performed at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on October 27th at 8:00 pm.
- Guy Mintus Trio – an accomplished concert pianist, he performed at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on October 29th at 8:00 pm.
- Sandra Bernhard : “Quick Sand” – a fast-paced and exciting entertainer with a three-piece band, Bernhard performed at the Vogue Theatre on October 31st at 8:00 pm.
- Gary Lucas – an award-winning and world-famous guitarist and composer who performed live in front of two films: Spanish Dracula and Frankenstein. He performed at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on October 30th at 7:00 and 9:00 pm.
- AvevA – an Ethiopian-Israeli singer and songwriter. AvevA’s music combines traditional Ethiopian sounds with Soul-Pop songs. She performed at the Rickshaw Theatre on November 14th at 8:00 pm.
- Yemen Blues : Hallel – a performance by Ravid Kahalani and Omer Avital. Yemen Blues has gone on to great international success since its creation in 2010. Their new energetic project HALLEL fused the influence of Yemenite Jewish culture and Afro-Funk groove. They performed at the Rickshaw Theatre on November 9th at 8:00 pm.
Theatre & Multi-Disciplinary in 2019
Theatre and multi-disciplinary performances at the Chutzpah Festival in 2019 included the following:
- Holocaust Brunch – a performance by BC-born and UK-based Tamara Micner. Holocaust Brunch told the true stories of Bluma and Isaac Tischler who were Polish-born Jews and Holocaust survivors who met in medical school in Tajikistan during the war and became renowned Vancouver doctors.
- The Rescue: A Live Film-Concerto – a 70-minute documentary film that was combined with a live musical performance of its musical soundtrack. This performance tells the story of Colonel Jose Arturo. The show was at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on November 23rd at 8:00 pm.
- Geoff Berner & TJ Dawe & Friends – The Trombonik Returns to New Chelm was a satirical musical. The creators took inspiration from the traditional tales of Jewish folklore about Chelm. The musical took place in depression-era Saskatchewan. The performance was at the WISE Hall on November 1st at 8:00 pm.
- The Diary of Anne Frank LatinX – following the famous story of Anne Frank, the Jewish teenager hidden away while Nazis hunted down Jews during World War II, this production added a modern-day twist. This story followed those being hidden in modern day America from ICE and attempted to find parallels to the Anne Frank story. Performances took place on November 6h, 7th, 8th and 9th.
- Chutzpah! Dance & Comedy Inclusions Project – a week-long creative project with professional artists who came together to create an amazing closing night performance. The show was at the Norman Rothstein Theatre on November 24th at 7:00 pm.
- Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance! 25th Anniversary Tribute – a tribute to the Jewish Community Centre’s musical theatre summer camp. Performers included Simone Osborne, Tiffany Rivera, Matthew Rossoff, Meghan Anderson, Advah Soudack and more. They put on two performances on November 10th at the Norman Rothstein Theatre: one at 3:30 pm and the other at 7:30 pm.
In case you were curious about what Chutzpah means, synonyms include the words audacity, effrontery, cheek, gall and supreme self-confidence.
The Chutzpah Festival is one of Vancouver’s top performing arts festivals and in 2020 it celebrated its 20th year.
For more information see the Chutzpah Festival website.
For information about other similar events at other times of the year, see Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar.