Stages set for opera drama through to Disney musicals

Island-wide, professionals and student multi-talent performers hit the stage

The Victoria Jazz Society announced its lineup for Oak Bay’s Dave Dunnet Community Theatre series of ticketed performances at the 34th TD Victoria International JazzFest. Kick off the local shows June 24 with Quinn Bachand’s Brishen plus Blue Moon Marquee. On June 25 hear Donny McCaslin Group followed by Christine &Ingrid Jensen Band w. Ben Monder on June 27. On June 28 Tierney Sutton Band takes the stage and the Buster Williams Quartet wraps the week on June 29.

Tickets range from $28 to $42. Shows are in the theatre at Oak Bay High, 2121 Cadboro Bay Rd. and start at 8 p.m. Visit jazzvictoria.ca for details. Beginning on April 28, official JazzFest program guides will be available at all Vancouver Island Serious Coffee and TD Bank locations.

Pacific Opera Victoria presents the western Canada première of Les Feluettes. A new Canadian opera based on Michel Marc Bouchard’s celebrated play of the same name, Les Feluettes was co-commissioned and co-produced by POV and Opéra de Montréal, where it premiered to standing ovations last season.

This new Canadian opera is staged in the Royal Theatre, April 20 through 30, with Timothy Vernon conducting the Victoria Symphony.

The drama revolves around the consequences of a moment in 1912. A group of boys at a Quebec college rehearse Gabriele D’Annunzio’s sensual play The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. As a devastating love triangle is revealed, one boy dies, one is sent to prison for his murder, and a third becomes a bishop. Decades later, the bishop is summoned to the prison to hear the confession of his former classmate. Instead, the prisoners force the bishop to watch as they re-enact the past and finally provoke him to confess what really happened.

Priced between $25 and $135, tickets are available from the Royal and McPherson Box Office at 250-386-6121, or online at rmts.bc.ca. Student RUSH tickets for those presenting valid student identification are available at the door of the theatre, 60 minutes prior to each performance, subject to availability. RUSH tickets are $15. For more information, contact Pacific Opera Victoria at 250-385-0222 or visit pov.bc.ca.

Following the wildly successful presentation of Fawlty Towers in 2016, The Peninsula Players present Series 2 featuring three additional episodes. The iconic bewildered Spanish waiter and the insufferably pompous Basil Fawlty will jump off the television screen and on to the stage when Fawlty Towers – Series 2 opens May 4 at the Mary Winspear Centre.

Arguably one of, if not the funniest British television series, it’s comedy that has been thoroughly enjoyed by audiences everywhere. Famous Monty Python alumni, John Cleese, co-wrote the original television sitcom with his than wife Connie Booth and starred as the pessimistic innkeeper Basil Fawlty.

The May production at Mary Winspear features the episodes, Touch of Class, Waldorf Salad and The Germans, brimming with sharp writing, an array of interesting characters, and the ever-present conspiracy of events that just might send Basil over the edge.

Adding to a long list of highly entertaining theatre productions that the Peninsula Players has brought to the Charlie White over the years, Fawlty Towers is a show known for its madcap action and dialogue. Rehearsals are never without laughter as cast members develop their characters, work on their delivery and learn their movements.

Fawlty Towers – Series 2 is fast, frenetic, and family-friendly fun that all can enjoy. The production opens at the Charlie White Theatre at the Mary Winspear on Thursday May 4 at 7:30 p.m. and runs until Sunday May 7. There 2 p.m. matinee performances, May 6 and 7.

The Civic Orchestra of Victoria joins Ukulele master James Hill for the James Hill Ukulele Extravaganza at the the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre Sunday, April 30. The audience is encouraged to bring their own ukuleles for an end-of-show strum-along. The concert opens at 2 p.m. with tickets available online and at Long &McQuade, Ivy’s Bookshop and The Sheiling.

Blue Bridge Theatre opens its People’s Choice Season with Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker, directed by Jacob Richmond, April 25 to May 7. Power, allegiance, innocence and corruption are under the spotlight, as two brothers take in a homeless person who pushes them to the social limit. The Caretaker is one of Pinter’s most celebrated and oft-performed plays.

Rounding out the season will be Garson Kanin’s Born Yesterday May 30 to June 11, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, July 4 to 16, and Red Hot Cole, conceived and directed by Darcy Evans, Aug. 1 to 13. Also coming up from Blue Bridge Theatre May 13 is The Lonely, a celebration of the music of Roy Orbison. Featuring Mike Demers as Orbison, enjoy hits including Pretty Woman, Runnin’ Scared, Cryin’ and of course, Only the Lonely, at the Roxy Theatre.

The Blue Bridge box office is open from noon to 4 p.m Tuesday to Saturday at 2657 Quadra St. Call 250-382-3370 or visit bluebridgetheatre.ca for details.

Belfry Theatre hosts the world premier of Alice Munro Stories April 18 to May 24. The master of the contemporary short story, Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2013. Directed by Anita Rochon, the Belfry will stage two of her short stories, word for word, in a theatrical event that celebrates her exceptional language and the audience’s imagination. Visit tickets.belfry.bc.ca for tickets.

From the underground to the mainstream, Intrepid Theatre’s UNO Fest of solo performance, celebrates 20 years of daring stories with 15 bold and innovative shows from Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Victoria and Vancouver as part of the 20th anniversary UNO Fest, May 17 to 27 at the Metro Studio, Intrepid Theatre Club and more.

The 2017 UNO Fest includes diverse artists and performance styles, curated by Intrepid Theatre’s Executive Director, Heather Lindsay. “In recognition of Intrepid Theatre’s engagement in the Equity in Theatre Initiative, 11 of the 15 festival artists are women; we are also committed to showcasing B.C.’s emerging artists of colour and artists living with disability, and will be presenting nine premieres and five new commissions at the 20th UNO Fest,” says Lindsay.

Highlights include the pioneer of solo performance and Canadian theatre powerhouse, Daniel MacIvor who opens the festival with an anti-keynote keynote Address and Q&A, which is sure to blow the roof off the Metro Theatre. This piece is commissioned specifically for the 20th Anniversary of UNO Fest.

The premiere of Nightswimming’s Broken Tailbone, the newest work from award-winning performer and writer Carmen Aguirre (who was last here with Blue Box, a hit of the 2012 Uno Fest) combines story-telling, DJ beats and a salsa lesson.

The West Coast appearance of four Toronto artists which include Summerwork’s alum Katie Sly (Charisma Furs) and Why Not’s 4 1⁄2 (ig)noble truths by Thomas McKechnie; I’m Doing This For You from Haley McGee who local audiences will remember her from Oh My Irma at Belfry’s SPARK in 2013; and Quiver, by playwright, librettist and performer Anna Chatterton, fresh off it’s run at Buddies in Bad Times.

Intrepid Theatre and UNO Fest believes that the arts should be accessible to all. The Pay-What-You-Can initiative is offered at every opening night performance at the festival, ensuring that the entire community, regardless of income has access to the performing arts. Visit: intrepidtheatre.com or Ticket Rocket at #101-804 Broughton St. for tickets and passes.

Enjoy a roadtrip to Chemainus for an entertaining look at the music world from Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt.

Showing to May 14 at the Chemainus Theatre, Two Pianos Four Hands – “a comedy about music” – features Ted and Richard, who dream about becoming classical pianists. As the musicians deal with pushy parents, bizarre teachers, life-consuming practice, stage fright and agonizing examinations, audiences follow the hilarious and moving journey taken by these talented duelling pianists. Visit chemainustheatrefestival.ca for details.

Oak Bay’s Canadian College of Performing Arts brings one of the most popular Disney stories, on the heels of the Hollywood movie release.

Beauty and the Beast the musical – with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Woolverton – was adapted from Walt Disney Pictures’ Academy Award-winning animated movie.

Beauty and the Beast ran on Broadway for 5,461 performances between 1994 and 2007, becoming one of Broadway’s longest-running productions. The production stands out for its strong story-telling, wonderful musical numbers and fantastic costumes; all of which will be on display at the McPherson Playhouse.

Beauty and the Beast is at the McPherson Playhouse April 21 to 29. Get tickets through the McPherson box office at 250-386-6121.

cvanreeuwyk @oakbaynews.com