Leila sings Adele

Local songstress, poet, musician, and artist Leila Neverland is set to take the stage at Creekside Theatre in Lake Country for two back-to-back performances on Friday November 18th, and Saturday November 19th. Covering Adele tunes in a tribute, as well as her own compositions, Leila has created a unique concert experience for all in attendance.  I met Leila when she came into my office one day when I was working at Festivals Kelowna. She pitched the idea about putting pianos in the streets of Kelowna and the rest they say is history. (http://www.castanet.net/news/What-s-On/142073/Pianos-in-Parks

Known for her creative, and absurdly brilliant performances, Leila Neverland truly never duplicates a performance. Her unique, multi-talented artistry has allowed her to pursue many arts-related endeavours, thereby honing her craft in a holistic fashion. Not only can she play the piano with impressive skill and accuracy, but also tackles the ukulele, and has worked to shape her voice to that of a versatile singing powerhouse. 

Currently showcasing her newest singer-songwriter masterpieces, Leila took the time to answer some questions while on the road in the Kootenays. 

How long have you been involved in the live event/concert scene?

Ever since I was little. I've performed original material for 15 years and have close to ten full-length albums.

What’s your musical background?

Classically trained, taught myself jazz.

How would you describe your style of music?

Free-spirited gypsy ragtime freedom music.

When did you first know you wanted to be a performer?

Can't remember. I think its just always been in my boots.

What would you tell a potential audience member for the upcoming show (describe the show)?

We will warm up with some of my originals and after a quick intermission a full band Adele sound will develop, adding element after element, with a touch of theatre, comedy, and dance. Stoked to be joined by pianist Kodi Ackerman, drummer Jay Dallomar, string duet Nils and Julia, and long-time friend and dancer Ana-Maria Kiss.

Any take-aways for audiences? Is this in promotion of a new album?

I will have my newest collection called "Ten Shades of Leila" on hand, and hope to reach a new audience.

Do you have any fun/interesting stories about performing?

When I'm in an audience I feel like we are one entity, and when I'm onstage as the performer, every pair of eyes smiling, crying, closed in bliss, wild and open, are so individually unique. I love the magic of performance. Giving, receiving. And when the magic is pure, we are all one.

What has been one of your favourite moments to date as a singer/performer?

Every performance offers unique moments of cheek straining smiles and pure melodic vibrations. I can't wait to get on stage and share this one. Another stands out. Back in 2012. I composed, staged, produced, and performed an original, locally sourced music and theatre production about a young woman's journey from stagnancy through transcendence. "Transcending Orbit" was so much fun and I am readying grant applications to make it bigger and better. See www.leilaneverland.com for more.

Any other fun tidbits that would be fun to share about the upcoming concert or in general?

We've started saying "Hello" when rehearsal is over and most would say goodbye. She rubs off, that Adele Adkins.

If you had to give a 30-second elevator pitch for the show, what key points would it include?

Do you hear that? Can it be? Is Adele in the Okanagan? Almost. It's local songstress Leila Neverland's powerful voice and her crew, giving the superstar's music some interstellar justice. Don't miss this show!

Just as Leila expressed above, this will be a unique, and powerful event, one that should not be missed! Come hear Leila in concert on Friday, November 18th, or Saturday, November 19th. Tickets are $25 available at the door, online at www.creeksidetheatre.com  or by calling 250-860-2867.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Fighting for community

When was the last time you volunteered for a charity? When you did was it an easy task or a difficult one?

Often organizations make the volunteer opportunity easily doable to ensure they don't expect too much from someone volunteering their time. Boxing in Community took the complete opposite take on volunteering. 

I had three calls asking if I would volunteer to train for three months intensively, commit to raising $1500, and jump into a boxing ring to authentically box against another volunteer trying to punch me in the face.

It was the easiest no of my life.

So now I find myself doing a story on this unique event and I can't help but have the utmost respect for those who stepped up, donated their time, and who are stepping further outside of their comfort zones than most of us will even consider doing this decade. 

Boxing for Community will debut on Nov. 3 at the Laurel Packinghouse. It's a black tie gala and the high end priced tickets are available online.

 Simply it's a boxing match but instead of professional boxers it's folks like you and me who actually said yes to volunteering to do this.

"We are really looking forward to bringing this event to our community,” said Shelley Gilmore, executive director of the United Way.

“(It’s) modelled after a very successful charity event in Victoria. each boxer must raise funds which will support local programs centred around improving the lives of men in our community."

Boxers have been recruited and training has already started.

This year's roster includes CEOs, developers, leaders in business and a chef-chef match all of whom will find their corners.

In a black-tie event they're going toe to toe and glove-to-glove with other community champions raising awareness and money to support critical, vital services and programs for men in our community.

Each bout will consist of three two-minute rounds where our boxers show us their hard work and what they have learned in their eight-week training period as they go into the ring and box for their community, our community.

"We want this event to support and give back to the men in our community. The United Way is committed to addressing poverty related issues and to building stronger, healthier, more inclusive communities,” states Gilmore.

“Ensuring that key supports are available in the areas of mental health, parenting, addictions, violence and restorative justice as well as youth engagement and education to strengthen families and the future of our children.”

Hats off to all of the volunteers who have stepped up to make this unique fundraising event possible. I'm off to buy a ticket as I would 300 per cent rather be in the crowd than in the ring. 

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Spring break camps

There’s a hint of spring in the air (well at least there was on Sunday) which can only mean that Spring Break is just around the corner! If you’re looking for camps or activities for your kids to partake in over the two-week break, here are some suggestions ranging from music, art, sports, and nature-inspired options. 

Spring Break Arts Blast 
Rotary Centre for the Arts is offering 2-Day Spring Break Arts Blast camps for kids ages 5-11, Mon-Tue & Thurs-Fri. 

The ever popular 2-day camps offer two separate camps with different themes. These camps are designed for both boys & girls and feature a wide selection of fun and creative art activities – it's the total Arts Blast experience.

Each camp has a different theme and allows your child to explore the power of imagination, while raising self-esteem & confidence as they take classes in Art, Music, Drama and Dance. Guided by talented and inspiring "top flight" instructors, Arts Blast gives your child the opportunity for individual learning and growth.

Drop-in camps for kids are available as well as for Preschool kids.

For more information and registration click here.

Art Break
Art Break is a program offered by the Kelowna Art Gallery in partnership with Bumbershoot Theatre. 
March 14–24, 2016
9 am to 3 pm (time will be divided between the gallery and Bumbershoot Theatre)
Ages 5 to 7 and 8 to 10
Cost per day: $65.00 ($50.00 for members)
(Sign up for any four classes and get the fifth class free)
Daily drop-ins are available.

The Kelowna Art Gallery and Bumbershoot Theatre are collaborating to offer two exciting weeks over Spring Break of art and theatre for children. Participants will be inspired by short field trips to different places in the Cultural District each day, and then will create visual and performance art based on their experiences. At the Gallery children will take part in fun and inspiring activities, such as painting, sculpture, drawing, mixed media, and printmaking, and at Bumbershoot they will explore theatre through a variety of games and play.

To register call 250-762-2226, or stop by the Kelowna Art Gallery at 1315 Water Street.

Spring Break Fun Camps
Ages 5 – 12)

AM: H2O Seal Team Aquatic Camp (6–12YRS)
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Accelerate your child’s swimming skills with our Aquatic Camp that features an hour Y swim lesson, followed by some time to try out the FlowRider®, slides and lazy river.

AM: Active Kids Camp (Ages 5 – 12)
8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Keep your children healthy and active with our morning Active Kid’s Camp! We’ll play a variety of kid approved active games on an indoor field, followed by a fun swim in the H2O pools.

PM: Y Theme Camps (Ages 5 – 12)
12:30 – 4:30 pm
Theme inspired crafts and games, group challenges and team building activities help make each week a unique experience! Add in twice weekly dips in the pool and a movie to end each week, and you have the ingredients for a Spring Break full of memories!

Week One Theme: Unleash Your Inner Scientist
Monday—Friday, March 14 – 18 (5 day)
Members: $80/week | Non-Members: $90/week

Week Two Theme: Spies and CSI’s
Monday—Thursday, March 21 – 24 (4 day)
Members: $64/week | Public: $72/week

City of Kelowna offering Half & Full Day Camps during Spring Break 
Check out the current Recreation Guide for camps ranging from Acrylic, Watercolour & Drawing Art Camp, Golf Camp, Sportacular Camp, Circus Yoga, Simon Fraser University Soccer Camp, and Xplore SportZ Camp as well as a licensed day camp through Watson Elementary & Bankhead Elementary School. 

Kelowna Actors Studio Spring Break Theatre Camps
Join Randy Leslie, Artistic Director and Angela Lavender, Artistic Associate for a fun filled, theatrical March Break. Modelled on Kelowna Actors Studio long running Summer Camps, our March Break Theatre Camps are taught by professional artist educators and are taught in a fun and focused learning environment. Five (or nine!) wonderful days are spent making new friends, and building skits, scenes, musical numbers and much more from the ground up, all the while exploring their imaginations! 

The energetic rehearsal process culminates in short group performances for fellow classmates. Lunch will be provided by the Kelowna Actors Studio.

Ages 7 to 12
Instructors: Randy Leslie & Angela Lavender
First Week $259 + GST
Second Week $209 + GST


Week 1 March 14 to 18
Week 2 March 21 to 24 (no class on Good Friday)

For more information and to book your spot click here.

Dance Camp through Ballet Kelowna 
This year, Ballet Kelowna is hosting an intensive week for experienced dancers that will include advanced ballet, Pilates mat class, pointe, repertoire, and a special choreographic intensive with Heather Myers. 
Date: March 14-18*
Time: 9:00 am- 3:00pm 
*Includes special family and friends showing for participants on Friday, March 18 from 4:00-5:00pm. 
Cost: $300 + tax
Register: by phone at 250-762-6105 or by emailing [email protected]

EECO Centre 3-half-day Spring Break Camps
Ages 5-7
Sign your kids up for a camp designed to engage them in nature!  The three-day Nature Detectives morning half-day camps are for specially geared for youngsters aged five to seven. Children will spend the mornings exploring the outdoors, completing craft projects, discovering trails and ponds, playing games, and meeting new friends!

The cost per three day session is $75/ per child.  For more information contact the EECO staff at 250-469-6139, email [email protected] or click here to register. 

Gymnastix Spring Break Camps
Join Gymnastix for fun-filled days at their gymnastics spring break camps & drop-in program in our engaging gymnastics facility. All spring break camp & drop-in activities are supervised by friendly, Gymnastics BC trained instructors who are focused on providing a safe and fun learning environment for everyone. Preschool age camp is also available. Registration is not required for drop-in activities. 

Trampoline & Tumbling Camp
Ages 7-10
Monday, March 14 – Thursday March 17 from 9 am – 12 pm 
Cost: $220/participant

Trampoline & Tumbling Camp
Ages 10-15
Monday, March 14 – Thursday March 17 from 12:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Cost: $220/participant

Jump, Hop & Roll Drop-In
Ages walking – 5 years
Friday, March 18 from 9:30 am – 11:30 am (Wednesdays will resume after spring break)

Funtastic Gymnastics Camps
Preschool Ages 3-5
Elementary Ages 6-12
Monday, March 21 – Thursday March 24 from 9 am – 12 pm
Cost $199/participant

Join Gymnastix's popular theme based camps that incorporate instructional skill building gymnastics, games, crafts and tons of fun. They encourage kids to be active as well as build new friendships in a safe and positive environment.

For more information and to register for any of the Spring Break camps at Gymnnastix, click here.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

New festival for the kids

I get it. Sometimes we miss things from the past. 

Not a month goes by that I don't hear about the days when the waterslides were in West Kelowna and Fred Flintstone had a home in Kelowna. They were a part of our community, and provided childhood memories for many families in the Okanagan. 

What I find missing from the conversation, though, is anything about the new things we have, things that families of yesteryear didn't have. 

Places like the Okanagan Gymnastics Centre, Energy Plex, Kangaroo Farms, Hoof Prints Barnyard, and the list goes on.

My two cents: We no longer have some of the family things from the past, but we have more now than we ever had before. 

In my life, I have the unique pleasure of being able to play a role in creating some of those new events, whether it's New York New Years, Pianos in Parks, or free concert or festivals in West Kelowna. 

This brings me to the latest initiative that I've been working on through my new job in Lake Country. It's coming up this Saturday, and we hope to see you there, as we start to build up new and exciting opportunities for fun for families and children throughout the Central Okanagan.

Ryan Donn Lake Country Indoor Children's Festival

Lake Country Indoor Children’s Festival

When: February 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Lake Country Community Complex (in GESS) on Bottom Wood Lake Road

Suggested donation: $2/Child, $5/ Adult, $10/Family


Come for the . . . theatre shows!

11:00 a.m. Trixie the Clown 

11:45 a.m. Kees Tae Kwon Do

12:00 p.m. Judi Garner-Niehaus "Interactive puppet show with legends from Turtle Island"

12:50 p.m. Kees Tae Kwon Do

1:00 p.m. Leif David - Magician

2:00 p.m. Okanagan Music Group (OMG) Teen Vocal Talent Competition - hosted by Jennifer Boal


Come for the . . . multicultural activities! (by ISCO, KCR,PDMA)


Origami booth 

Try a turban

Cultural dancing 


Come for the . . . all-round all-fun general activities (all free)

Bouncy Castle by Bounce Hire

Face Painting by Christine Turpin 

Balloons by Rene

Caricatures by Marzio

Lake Country Museum Old Fashion Photo Booth

Lake Country Fire Fighters Combat Challenge

Kelowna Museums Society Activithy Booth

Building Blocks by Lake Country Health Planning Society

Wentworth Music Drum Booth


Come for . . .  even more fun! 

Regional Parks and EECO staff are offering two free nature-inspired crafts, animal masks, and bird nest helpers. 

Lake Country Art Gallery invites you to blend science and art into one to create oil and India ink resist art.

Mommas for Mommas will be there with their pop-up clothing store.


Media Partner: Castanet

Sponsors: TD, ICSO, Canada Heritage



This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ryan Donn is a singer/songwriter, event producer, digital creative, and Councillor at the City of Kelowna

I love creating songs, which have been used by the Terry Fox Run, Kelowna’s Centennial Celebration, or heard on various local radio stations. 

In the past few years, I've focused on creating community events including Music in the Park, New York New Years, Castanet’s Free Family Skate, Talented Kids, Talented Kelowna, and others.

Originally from Scotland, I’ve lived in Kelowna for over 20 years. My wife, Kimberly, and our two daughters, Lyla and Bella, share our home with Tom (adult with diverse abilities).

In 2014, I was elected to Kelowna City Council. 

Opinions are my own, and don't represent the City of Kelowna, Festivals Kelowna or Creative Okanagan. 

To connect with Ryan:

Google + 

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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