Reasons to fringe

This weekend, we will Fringe.

New Vintage Theatre is remounting our hit show, In One Night, for Kelowna’s Fringe Festival Sept. 19-22. Tickets are $13, include a dessert/drink and are available at www.rotarycentreforthearts.com 

What is a Fringe festival?

It is an unjuried, uncensored and unpredictable line up of plays that run in repetition so that you can see many performances over a short period of time.

The very first Fringe festival was held in Edinburgh, and the largest North American festival is in Edmonton. Both take place in August and are mind-blowing events that are perfectly orgasmic for those who are crazy about performance-or just crazy.

I have been lucky enough to work as a board member for eight years in Edmonton and to perform in Edmonton and Calgary as well as visit Edinburgh’s unbelievable festival.

Now there are festivals all over the world and Kelowna wants in. This is Kelowna’s second attempt at hosting the most iconic of all theatre festivals, organized by Dustyn Baulkham of ARTSCO.

To say I am excited about Kelowna’s event is an understatement. We are doing our Fringe-y best to work on our show and talk up all 12 shows that can be found at three locations in downtown Kelowna:

  • Metro Community
  • Rotary Centre For The Arts
  • Black Box Theatre.

So why should you Fringe?

Here are my five reasons.

We can all use a shock to the system. Fringe festivals push boundaries and encourage us to expand our viewpoints, enlighten and yes, may even terrify or shock us.  With our lives so perfectly curated now by big business and social media it is wonderful to find yourself in a performance that makes us feel like we truly don’t know what will happen next.

Fringe festivals are a platform for seeing and meeting the next or current big thing in performance. Many of the coolest people I have ever met have been at or by working with a Fringe festival. Some of the big stars I get to come to our KFX festival are actually people I met at such festivals or the friends of people I met at a Fringe festivals.

It’s Cheap! Wow! Tickets for $13? It is so easy to see a lot of theatre inexpensively. For the same cost as one expensive theatre or concert ticket, you can see all 12 plays. Purchasing a Frequent Fringer pass can save you even more money; tickets for plays will be just $11 each.

Artistic Director? Actor? Look for new material at a Fringe Festival. Looking for the next Come from Away or The Drowsy Chaperone? Check out a Fringe festival –they are the testing ground for new plays.

Support Something New and Cool. This new endeavour needs your support. ARTSCO is just a small organization and the job of putting on a Fringe festival is a massive one.

They need help:

  • volunteers
  • billets
  • patrons

100% of the tickets goes directly to the performing artists so those that have come from South Africa and New York and from across Canada deserve to be applauded by Kelowna audiences just as we locals are.

PS: If it helps pull you in, dessert and a drink will be served to all who attend our show In One Night (playing in the Black Box)

The Advice: Get your tickets now for this epic theatre festival. You will be glad for these five reasons and so many more.

Get your tickets at www.rotarycentreforthearts.com and info can be found at www.kelownafringe.ca. Programs are at the RCA and local coffee shops.

Do the Fringe!


Play this summer

There is a great tradition of summer theatre in the Okanagan.

When tourists tired of sun and sand and want to cool off in the evening they have enjoyed the theatre. They enjoyed the plays by Sunshine Theatre, Shakespeare Kelowna, Theatre Kelowna, Viva Musica, Kelowna Actor’s Studio, Bumbershoot Theatre and Caravan Farm Theatre.

And so have we!

Since 2012, the company that I run, New Vintage Theatre, has offered our own version of summer theatre. In June of our first season, it was Calendar Girls and then we co-produced God of Carnage in the very charming, but very hot Benvoulin Historic Church. 

The next summer, we were outside in the heat and smoke with My Favourite Fairy Tales-a show we do for kids-and inside with the charming high school reunion show by Daniel McIvor, BINGO, still one of my favourites.

The following summer, it was the steamy stage version of The Graduate and while the following summers we did things as wholesome as possible with The Great Gatsby, Grease, A 1970’s Cinderella and Fairy Tale High.

Last year, we just had our fundraiser, The Night Party-an epic cabaret that concludes with a glow dance party.  Oh. yes. and then there was the five summers of our soap opera As The Sun Burns-always epic, always crazy.

As you can see there has been a whole lot of summer entertainment created by New Vintage and this year we are back at it.

Here is our line up:

52 Pick Up by TJ Dawe & Rita Bozi

52 playing cards, 52 short scenes from the relationship from two young lovers. 52 Pick Up, based on the playwright’s real stories of romance from their own lives, is an unforgettable play that has received 5 star reviews and acclaim throughout the world. 

Now it is Kelowna’s chance to see this incredible play starring stand out newcomers Josh Richardson and Aly Rothery. Directed by Bonnie Gratz.

Tickets include a drink and a card reading from a psychic.

  • July 9; 6pm; July 10-13; 7 p.m.
  • The Black Box Theatre
  • Tickets at www.newvintage.ca

Cruel Summer - A Summer Murder Mystery

There’s nothing like a good summer mystery.

In ours, there is a new resort that is opening on Rattlesnake Island and the guests are a creepy librarian, vain fighter pilot, bitter former NHLer, lonely heart, Instagram model, a psychic and a strange drifter.

Each one has a past and a motive/tie to a killing back in 1989 and a Bananarama tape found at the crime scene. Audiences are invited to our fun, scary murder mystery nights where mix tapes and murder are strangely compelling bedfellows.

  • July 11-12 at 9 p.m.; Aug. 22-23 at 8 p.m
  • The Black Box Theatre
  • Tickets at www.newvintage.ca

The Night Party & Hippy Market - July 13

For the third year, we are raising money for our youth and teen programs by holding a late night cabaret called The Night Party.

This year, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock with songs from the summer of ’69 and finish up the evening with a groovy glow dance party.

Our hippie market will have flowers for your hair and more. Tickets include a free drink and party favour.

  • July 13 at 9 p.m
  • Tickets at www.newvintage.ca

We look forward to entertaining the Okanagan this summer and hope to see you at New Vintage shows.

We also encourage you to also support Fred Skeleton Theatre’s Lost Boys, Shakespeare Kelowna’s As You Like It, Kelowna Actor’s Studio’s The Little Mermaid and Madfox Theatre’s Little One.

Best of luck to Theatre Kelowna’s Late Company, which is in Theatre BC’s community theatre competition in Port Alberni this week as well.

I also can’t wait to catch Caravan Farm Theatre’s show The Coyotes this summer in Armstrong.

See a play this summer!

Hopping on the Stu-Bus

It was a world of wheels in the Salloum Room on Wednesday.


Because Chelsea McEvoy’s screenplay for her upcoming film The Wheels on The Bus was read by New Vintage actors Graham Daley, Joe Welton, Chris Froese, Ashley Armour, Marissa Alexander and Brock Gratz.

The audience was filled with the crazy cool gang that inspired it; a group of lifelong friends who all met because they are in wheelchairs.

Since January, I have had the extraordinary experience of being a dramaturg for Chelsea McEvoy, a well known fixture in Kelowna’s burgeoning film scene, as she worked on the script for her first feature film.

Chelsea has had a hand in a lot of locally shot commercials, music videos and major motion picture projects, but she always wanted to film her own feature.

Chelsea’s generosity and skill level have meant that she works consistently and while that has yielded incredible experiences and an enviable resume, she has not had time to devote to her feature film effort.

She blocked off Tuesday nights to meet with me and we flushed out her concept until it made its way from her brilliant brain to the page.

So what’s the story, morning glory?

The Wheels on the Bus is the story of a road trip that four buddies take from Kelowna to Burning Man in their wheelchair adapted bus, aptly named The Stu-Bus.

Along for the ride is a newly disabled hockey hero who looks down on the guys as men who he believes “gave up on rehab,” but jumps on board for his own to be revealed reasons.

The Wheels on The Bus is part Hangover, part Little Miss Sunshine with lots of laughs, some heart break and bucket loads of raunchy debauchery.

It is also based on the stories of Chelsea’s real life friends that she met through her partner James Hektner who is also in a wheelchair.

There actually is a Stu-Bus, James has a character inspired by him, and the men in the audience on Wednesday night were excited to hear Chelsea’s screenplay that, with their blessing, lifts all kinds of material from their own epic road trips.

The reading on Wednesday night was an exciting ride and it is just the start because this movie is already in pre-production mode with plans for footage to start being shot this summer as part of an accompanying documentary.

Little shop has its horrors

Help! There is a man-eating plant in Studio 100 at Rotary Centre For The Arts and her name is Audrey II.

But don’t dismay, the strange and interesting plant at Mushnik and Son’s Florist is all part of New Vintage Theatre’s upcoming mega-musical, Little Shop of Horrors.

Little Shop of Horrors was first a low-budget horror movie starring Jack Nicholson, released in 1960, directed by Roger Corman known as the King of B-Movies. Legend has it that Corman learned about some sets left over from a recent movie shoot and he wrangled a deal with the filmmakers to leave them on site so he could shoot his own film with them.

What he didn’t say to the producers was that he didn’t have a script, so he spent the next 10 days writing Little Shop in coffee shops around Hollywood and then shot the film in two days and one night.

The result was the cult classic that inspired the musical and the magnificent botanical beast of a prop sitting in our studio today.

The musical version of the film premiered in 1968 and it quickly won acclaim. In 1983 Little Shop of Horrors beat Cats for the New York Critics Best Musical award and ran constantly for a record breaking 2209 performances more than five years making it the third longest running Off-Broadway musical of all time.

Audrey II is the plant named by Seymour (Corey Hendricks), the show’s nerdy hero, for the woman he adores.

Audrey (Joanne Booth) is a shop clerk with a heart of gold but trapped in a relationship with Orrin (Mac Mackay) her terrifying dentist boyfriend who loves Elvis but treats her like garbage on skid row.

Seymour starts to capture Audrey’s eye when the strange and unusual plant arrives at Mushnik’s Skid Row Florist, but what he doesn’t say is that he has to feed it blood in order to get it to keep growing.

Enter the “horror” part of the musical.

As the show’s producer, I have been working wrangling Audrey II puppets, sourcing 1950s dentist chairs and coordinating the behind the scenes surprises for the show, both gory and great.

Last week, I was blown away by the full run through I saw with the stars of the show, live band and glorious Audrey II. Director Danny Tagle’s choreography and Lyndsey Wong’s music is simply magnificent and must be seen.

So run, don’t walk to this hilarious cult comedy hit.  It’s not for kids but you won’t be sorry you visited Little Shop Of Horrors.

You will adore this strange and interesting musical and will even leave whistling about how much fun you had down on Skid Row.

Little Shop of Horrors runs May 16-26 at The Mary Irwin Theatre.

Tickets are available at www.rotarycentreforthearts.com

More Bonnie on Stage articles

About the Author

Bonnie Gratz is an actor, director, and playwright. She is the Artistic Director of Kelowna's New Vintage Theatre, and a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada and The Literary and Dramaturges of North America. 

For more on Bonnie, check out www.bonnie-gratz.com or check out www.newvintage.ca

Contact Bonnie at:  [email protected]


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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