Featuring (L to R): Tom McBeath (Ebenezer Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol / Photos by David Cooper

On Stage: Peter Pan panto, Conrwall’s Christmas and more

‘Tis the season for surprises, and you won’t need to go far to enjoy them. Through Dec. 31, visit the Chemainus Theatre Festival to tag-along on the Cornwalls’ All-inclusive Cancun Christmas. This hilarious, precarious Christmas vacation is packed with family secrets that keep you wondering if they’ll even make it to New Years.

It’s the mid-1980’s, and The Cornwalls are getting ready to celebrate the holidays. But this year, the same-old traditions just aren’t going to cut it. Harry Cornwall has been married to Judy for 25 years, and his beloved wife has dreamt of having a grand adventure for almost as long. He is determined to make her wish come true, and has found the perfect holiday getaway – on sale too! But as Harry’s act of devotion edges toward disaster, he may need a Christmas miracle greater than even Santa could deliver.

Newlyweds Sissy (Cornwall) and Kyle have been summoned to the airport by dad. Arriving with their suitcases packed, and a rather conspicuous carry-on, they decide to wait until Christmas Eve to spring their big news on the family. If a special delivery doesn’t surprise them first. Young Tommy Cornwall is stoked. With his first love at his side (his guitar, Ethel) he’s ready to have a rock n’ roll good time in the sun. When his most precious possession disappears, a frantic hunt begins – and leads him to discover a whole new kind of love.

Be prepared to laugh at the wacky ups and downs, and marvel at the reminders of your own holiday gatherings. Tickets are available now by calling 1-800-565-7738, or online at chemainustheatre.ca.

The Cornwalls’ All-inclusive Cancun Christmas is the second holiday play centered on this quirky family, co-written by local playwrights Nicolle Nattrass and Mark DuMez, and directed by Barbara Tomasic (who last visited the Festival to direct the wildly-popular Footloose). The authors were inspired to revisit the Cornwalls because of the way audiences connected with the family. “While the Cornwalls may be more quirky than most, it is their love and the values of their family that help them face any challenge that comes their way on this All Inclusive Cancun Christmas” says Nattrass.

Playing the perfectly imperfect family are a cast of talented comedic actors: David Adams as Harry the too-frugal, but well-meaning, patriarch; Marlee Walchuk as mom Judy, a soft-hearted artist; Mack Gordon as Tommy their rowdy son who still has a lot to learn; Andrea Pizarro as Dalila, an ambitious resort attendant who catches Tommy’s eye; Emily Henney and Alexander Nicoll as doting newlyweds (with a rather obvious secret) Sissy and Kyle; Alen Dominguez as eager-to-please resort activity leader, Fernando.

All the merriment is boosted by a diverse range of holiday music. Nico Rhodes, on keyboard, directs the live tunes – and is joined by Marisha Devoin on bass, and Brad Shipley on guitar.

Visiting the Cornwalls takes you back to the ‘80s, courtesy of The Festival’s production team whose colourful skills do the decade justice. Designers include: Carolyn Rapanos (sets), Michelle Lieffertz (costumes), Conor Moore (lighting). Stage manager Nicole Lamb and assistant stage manager Koh McRadu complete the experience of bringing joy, music, peace, and love.

Kaleidoscope Theatre for Young People presents the classic British pantomime, Peter Pan, running from Dec. 28 to 30 at the McPherson Playhouse. Esteemed director and long-time friend of Kaleidoscope Stephen Andrew brings a long career of pantomime direction back to Kaleidoscope for his second year as the winter production’s director. Last year’s Snow White was a smash hit, and this year promises to be even bigger.

Based on the unforgettable story by J.M. Barrie, their unique adaptation of Peter Pan is suitable for young people of all ages and adults with a love of fun and fantasy, and it features a family story of its own: Astrid Braunschmidt, who takes on the role of Tinkerbell, is joined by her son Tristan on stage. Tristan will be among our volunteers taking on the roles of the Lost Children of Neverland, performing alongside both professional and volunteer actors. “I’m so pleased to return to the stage this holiday season with a wonderful cast of friends,” Astrid says. “To share the spotlight with my son is a particular thrill.”

Astrid and Tristan aren’t the only families working together on the piece. Several pirates face off against their relatives in the Lost Children and Tyger’s Lilies. As family feuds go, this one will be worth watching. In addition to Astrid, Peter Pan stars Victoria Operatic Society actor Jeffrey Stephen as the titular boy who never grew up, with actor/singer Cati Landry as Wendy Darling, Kaleidoscope favorite Scott Clarke as Dame Nanna Nelly, Stephen Andrew in the villainous role of Captain Hook and acclaimed singer and actor Maria Manna as the Singing Mermaid.

Tickets are available through the Royal McPherson box office.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel and KCTS9 hosts the highly anticipated second season premiere of Victoria on Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. Season 2 finds Victoria in the 1840s after the birth of her first child, a daughter. Meanwhile, the disaster of the Anglo-Afghan War unfolds abroad, and the catastrophic Irish potato famine begins to wreak havoc. A royal state visit to France is also on the horizon. This evening includes a welcome beverage, passed hors d’oeuvres, three-course plated dinner and a viewing of the two-hour season premiere of Victoria in The David Foster Foundation Theatre. They invite guests to dress to match the period and occasion.

The Civic Orchestra of Victoria performs G.F. Handel’s Messiah and features performances by Eve-Lyn de la Haye, soprano; Eva Rebecca Bild, contralto; Sunny Shams, tenor; Andrew Erasmus, baritone; Dave Flello, trumpet; Michael Cochran, continuo and of course the audience, singing along as the chorus.

A perennial holiday classic, hundreds of audience member voices join together as a chorus inside the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall for our 19th sing-along rendition of Handel’s most famous oratorio. A wonderfully moving musical experience for singers and non-singers alike.

The Civic Orchestra of Victoria has some vocal scores to lend to the Chorus during performance (donations greatly appreciated.) If you have your own score, please bring it with you. The performance is Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Alix Goolden Performance Hall. Visit civicorchestraofvictoria.org for details.

Two weeks into the new year, in a musical collaboration with the renown violinist Kati Debretzeni, Victoria Baroque presents Applausi Festivi. It’s billed as a concert of virtuosic concertos by Italian Baroque masters, full of energy, drama, passion and drive. This concert will be held at the Church of St John the Divine on Friday, Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

As Vancouver Island’s only home grown, professional period instrument ensemble, Victoria Baroque is unique. Playing on instruments of the 18th century, Victoria Baroque brings audiences closer to the sound world of the Baroque period. Applausi Festivi features baroque strings, flute, bassoon, lute and harpsichord.

At the core of the program is Locatelli’s “Il Pianto d’Arianna” (“the weeping of Arianna”), a dramatic, sorrowful, opera-like tour de force for strings, bringing to life the tragic story of love lost, in which Ariadne awakens on the isle of Crete and realizes that her lover, Theseus, has abandoned her there. Other composers featured in the programme include Vivaldi, Corelli, Geminiani, and Dall’Abaco.

This event marks Victoria Baroque’s fourth collaboration with Debretzeni, one of the most sought-after baroque violinists of our time. Debretzeni is the leader of the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and is one of the leaders of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with whom she recorded Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as the featured soloist and director. Applausi Festivi by Victoria Baroque with Kati Debretzeni is Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of St John the Divine, 1611 Quadra St. Tickets $5 to $25, available at the door, Munro’s books, Ivy’s Bookshop and Long & McQuade.

More information visit victoria-baroque.com.

The Dave Dunnet Community Theatre fills with Oak Bay High students routinely for song, dance and music. In January 2018 students feature in many productions open to the public. Check out young talent when Oak Bay High offers a drama presentation Jan. 16 and 17 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Evening of Dance hits the stage Jan. 23, 24 and 25 at 7 p.m.

Ballet Victoria brings The Gift, a Christmas ballet to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score performed by The Victoria Symphony.

Join a flurry of dancing characters and a mischievous young girl who sparks an adventurous world of unexpected wonders when she opens a present early, despite her uncle’s warning.

Ballet Victoria, with the Victoria Symphony present The Gift at Royal Theatre Dec. 28 to Dec. 30. Tickets start at $30 available at the box office and rmts.bc.ca.


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Applausi Festivi by the Victoria Baroque with Kati Debretzeni runs Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. (Jan Gates photo)

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