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


The Birds Are In The House

Have you ever seen the Alfred Hitchcock classic horror, The Birds?

It starts out innocently enough with a beautiful woman — Tippi Hedren — making small talk with a handsome man — in a pet shop. They are flirtatious and like most of the slow burns of Hitchcock horrors the characters slowly start to realize that they are trapped, much like the old adage "a bird in the house."

If you know old lore you know that is very bad luck.

Such is the case with New Vintage Theatre's fall offerings, Blackbird and Mockingbird Close running Oct.17-21 at The Black Box Theatre.

While the plays are completely different in tone and subject matter, the feeling of being enclosed and trapped is a common sensation for the characters. The result are two compelling offerings that are must see plays this season.

Blackbird is the story of a young woman, Una, (played by Hillary Omoe) who corners a man named Ray (played by Doug Brown) in the middle of his busy office and demands she talk to him about an abuse she suffered 15 years earlier. 

He is the abuser. Ray has done his time, suffered the humiliation, loss of employment and has changed his name. He has a new life and things are fine until Una storms in and demands he meet with her.

It is terrifying, energetic and heartbreaking and nothing like I have ever worked on before.

At our dress rehearsal, my knees literally knocked together in fear watching their intensity and I know the play.

Mockingbird Close is a bird of a different feather, a fairytale for adults. Iris (Hailey Sabourin) and Hank (Graham Daley) are a couple in "a perfect 1950s suburban bungalow, on a quiet, safe, suburban street."

One night at a cocktail party their son goes missing.

At first they blame each other for losing track of him-"You smelled like liquor," Hank accuses, while Iris quips, "You smelled like perfume."

But soon it becomes apparent that their son is gone they are forced to go out into their crescent Mockingbird Close" and ask their very unusual neighbours if they have seen him.

What they discover is that the residents of Mockingbird Close all have secrets, some of them deadly, making this a Twin Peaks-Mad Men style who dun it that is fun and scary.

Both plays are Kelowna premieres and Mockingbird Close is a B.C. premiere. To add to the excitement acclaimed "bad boy" of Canadian theatre, Trevor Schmidt, will be coming to see his play Mockingbird Close as and will be at post-show parties every night to talk about his weird, wonderful work. 

Wine sponsor for the event is Back Door Winery.

Audiences will not want to miss these frightening works-they are simply like nothing ever seen in Kelowna that will keep you thinking and talking long after you have left the theatre.

Blackbird — 7 p.m,, Oct. 17-20

Mockingbird Close — 9 p.m,, Oct. 17-20; Oct.21 at 7 p,m,

Tickets, $25, are available from www.selectyourtickets.com, Prospera Place box office or are $35 at the door.

Buy a two show pass for $40.

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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