The Kelowna Fringe Festival is back

Ready. Set. Fringe!

It’s go time!

After a year of planning, many thousands of hours of meetings, rehearsals, and promotions, it is Kelowna International Fringe Week and I have to say I am so very proud we made it here.

Broadway is open again and so is Kelowna’s vibrant theatre community.

What is a Fringe Festival?

Kelowna International Fringe Festival is an uncensored, democratic performance festival that selects the line up from names pulled from a hat. Artists pay a nominal fee to get in the hat and when their names are drawn, they set to work creating a production for the festival. Many of the plays/productions are original, never-before seen works and because the festival gives 100% of the ticket sales back to the artists this allows them the chance to explore new types of performance and take risks. The result for audiences is exciting, unexpected theatre.

Who is performing at the 2021 Fringe Festival?

We have a rich and fun line up of everything from autobiographical plays to wildly creative creations that have never been seen before. Here are some highlights based on age recommendations.

For kids

We have KidsFringe happening Saturday and Sunday in Rotary Centre for the Arts Painting/Drawing Studio. Get a special surprise from our sponsor Telus and hear stories from Lady Dia (Kelowna’s 2021 Artist In Residence), Rapunzel, songs from Mermaid Nicole and paint a Grizzly Bear Mural with artist Brock Gratz. There is even a chance to get pictures with and be in a play with our Bear Mascot Kevin on Sunday at 1pm. Entry is free for kids, parents need to have a Bear Pin on. ($5 cost).

For all ages

TJ’s A Hit Song In 31.7 Minutes (Atrium, Rotary Centre for the Arts) is a fun way to write a hit song with the artist using audience suggestions. TJ is high energy, fun and this show promises to be the right mix of interactive and entertaining.

Famous adaptations

George Orwell’s Animal Farm (Black Box Theatre) and Cask Of The Amontillado (Grizzli Winery) by Edgar Allen Poe have been adapted by playwrights Peter Church and Bonnie Gratz and have proven to be very popular with ticket buyers. The casts of these shows feature some of Kelowna’s most acclaimed artists and at Cask of The Amontillado you can get a glass of wine with your play, too.

Emotional, touching dramas

Artists Carly Fawcett (Rock Bottom, RCA) and Jonathan Menold (Run Like Hell, RCA) revisit their past lives in their one performer gripping dramas. These two shows have a lot of buzz around them as does The Pink Unicorn (Studio 100, RCA) by Elise Forier Edie, starring the incredibly talented Kendra Hesketh. This show about a mother who discovers her child no longer wants to be considered “a girl or a boy, they are both” had a huge web following last June when the show had to move online after the pandemic shuttered theatres. The Pink Unicorn was made The Globe and Mail’s Theatre critic’s list as one to watch so many people are grabbing tickets to see it live.

Comedies featuring the Best of The Best

Whether it is Delphine Litke’s return in The Tingle 2 (Salloum Room, RCA) a cabaret style romp about dating adventures and misadventures or the feminist comedy Push Up Bar (Black Box Theatre) by a team of professional artists from Kamloops who have seen their work featured at Western Canadian Theatre and Project X Summer Theatre, you can be sure there are lots of laughs to be had at the festival. I would also recommend the genius playwright Jeremy Beaulne’s Emmy, Jess & Leo Watch TV (Salloum Room, RCA) and the absurdist playwright Tegan Scott’s play XXXX (Salloum Room, RCA) which claims “There is only one person I want to see my show and I don’t care if anyone else comes.” Intriguing!

Late night you can catch the Interior’s longest running improv troupe, Monkey With a Button at the Black Box Theatre or the entertaining, fun indie rock band Sad Tom & The Noodles.

Dance is featured at Creekside Theatre

Sands of Time is a massive, colorful production about dance through time, complete with incredible costumes and a big cast while The Daily Walk is a filmed, stripped down, version of dance that emphasizes the theme that dance can be anywhere at anytime. Both are highly recommended for those who love performance.

Hot tickets at the festival

A Musical Romance, Maybe (Grizzli Winery) is a choose your own adventure duelling pianos performance featuring real life couple Neville Bowman and Lyndsey Wong. Joni and Judy-Tribute! (Creekside) is Jessie Rivest’s captivating homage to Joni Mitchell and Judy Garland, while Blue Moon Marquee is a Indigenous Jazz duo who has much acclaim throughout North America. The moon will almost be full as they play under the stars at Grizzli Winery.

Tickets for these shows might not even exist by the time this article gets posted they are that popular.

Online options

We even have online options for those who can’t come to the theatre. Dear Donald, Dear Hillary is from Intrepid Theatre in Dallas, Texas and it imagines what it would be like if these arch enemies were pen pals as children. It is highly entertaining, and the performances are simply world class. You can also see this on the big screen at Creekside Theatre. The Daily Walk is also another online offering, too.

There truly is something for everyone at Kelowna International Fringe Festival this weekend. Over 100 artists have worked on it and there are still tickets to be had to almost all shows-but they won’t last. Check out our full line up at www.kelownafringe.ca today and get Fringing.

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

Class of ‘87 on centre stage

It is grad season and our community has definitely been feeling all the pride and huge sadness that comes with the passage of time, milestones met and those tragically missed.

I have been tripping back in time to my own grad class of 1987, an unorthodox mix of friends from two different towns, now in their (gulp) 50s, who I still keep in contact with if not in person, through social media.

My Class of 1987 is now celebrating the graduations of our children from high school and university and it is making us feel very proud and definitely older.

Maybe it is because I am now walking in the footsteps of my parents that I wrote the play I'll Stop The World for You, starring the talented teens from New Vintage Theatre's teen musical theatre program.

I'll Stop The World for You is based on my high-school angst. Halfway through Grade 11, I discovered my parents had to move. My dad's business was affected by the economic downturn and I would have to leave everything, my:

  • House
  • Friends
  • Boyfriend
  • Film projects
  • Fame-like fine arts high school.

My perfect preppy world was ending and crueller still, long distance phone calls were a fortune.

I couldn't breathe. It was like Hulk Hogan had punched me in the solar plexus.

I ended up moving to a community where there was no theatre, not even a drama program; it was like "the Footloose town for theatre.”

After a disastrous couple of months (insert scary bush party, altercations with some "Poison"-ous bullies and generally feeling really blue), I tried out for the town's community theatre program for an all ages production of Fiddler on The Roof that had citizens as young as eight and as old as 88.

I learned that I had a lot to learn about theatre, people and mostly about myself. Like my dear Dad said, you can be happy wherever you are, if you choose to be.

I'll Stop The World For You is now New Vintage Theatre's teen performance troupe's big play and it premiered last weekend, June 2-6. We were only allowed 10 people/performance in a theatre that seats 350, but that audience loved it.

They cheered as all proud families do. Even my Mom, who suffered with me through this challenging time period, enjoyed it.

More good news is that I'll Stop The World for You is available online from June 12-19, filmed by our collaborating partner James Alton.

It is brilliantly directed by Josie Morrow, and stars Ben Anderson, Hugo Bowman, Hannah Crockett, Madison Costello, Riley Gayford, Mae Glerum, Angelique Gouws, Rhys Griffiths, Alastor Hawkins, Abi Junop, Kaitlyn Sharman, Laila Watson, Shae Watson and Braeden Williams.

Behind the scenes you will find more young stars — Braeden Rachfall, Eva Mackie, Jaeden Walton and my son, Reid Gratz.

Support the next generation of artists and get your tickets at www.showpass.com/ill-stop-the-world-for-you-online/

Remember their names!

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

City's Theatre Angel retires

Say it isn't so! Diane Fettig is wrapping up her 10 years as Kelowna's favourite prop mistress and theatre angel.

How did this nurse end up behind the scenes on shows as varied as Peter Pan to Macbeth and winning multiple awards for her work? 

It all started shortly after she retired as a nurse. She was volunteering for a local meals program and met Theatre Kelowna's long time marketing/promotions volunteer Decio D'Ornellas.

Desi encouraged her to help with set décor for Peter Pan. Shortly after coming on board with the production, she was quickly promoted to head set décor when the previous person quit.

Using her curiosity and ingenuity, she quickly found herself as the go-to person for all things props and décor. 

There definitely is an eclectic requirement of skill sets for a props and set designer. The first award Diane won was for a Theatre Kelowna play called Sins of The Mother, the first creative endeavour where she felt she really needed to think outside of the box.

Twelve cakes were required for that play, a new one frosted every night. She created a present that could be re-opened every night and got a surprise herself when she won the Ozone Award for Best Set Décor. 

Her second Ozone award was for the play Perfect Wedding, also by Theatre Kelowna. In that production, Diane had to decorate and provide props to recreate a hotel room.

The adjudicator remarked that Diane's design "was nicer than the hotel room they were currently staying in.” 

Diane and I met when I first moved to Kelowna and worked on Aliske Webb's production of Waiting for the Parade. She coached me on how to believably smoke, a requirement for the character I played. Over the years, Diane was so much more than helpful; she was instrumental in the success and look of many of our productions.

The craziest prop she ever picked up was a strange looking, large cauldron that we wanted for Macbeth. She got it up in Calgary, strapped it in the backseat like a child, and headed with her husband, Len, down to the U.S. for a little vacation.

She said the cauldron in the backseat made for some really interesting conversations with the border guards.

Other unique prop finds included antlers, making the provocative calendar for Calendar Girls and creating Macbeth's severed head, which had to be refrigerated nightly. 

The most work was meticulously gluing cigarette butts to numerous ashtrays for The Full Monty and looking for retro props like metal flashlights and dust pans in order to make sure things looked like they were authentic.

"Everything is plastic now, but it wasn't always that way." 

Her favourite play? The Great Gatsby because "it was glitzy and a wonderful story."

Her most devastating moment? When working on Blackbird she got donations, collected and cleaned fast food containers, which were supposed to fill the office space of a troubled office manager.

"We were all so upset when a cleaner came in one night of the show and "cleaned up" our stage, throwing out all of our carefully curated garbage. We had to start all over again," she says with a chuckle. 

After 10 years, many, many productions for Theatre Kelowna, Playhouse 25, New Vintage Theatre and Fred Skeleton, Diane is feeling it is a good time to wind down the part-time job that has often been a full-time effort.

"With COVID and changes in the ages of the cast and crew I am finding it is a good time to focus on other interests. I am back taking cooking classes and having a great deal of fun with that."

On behalf of the entire theatre community, I want to start the standing ovation for this backstage angel who has created so many beautiful stage moments possible.

Thank you, Di! You will be missed but we look forward to seeing you in our theatre seats if not hanging out with us backstage. 

And yes, I promise to take good care of the metal flashlight, dustpan and antlers.

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

Vault of Horror open again

Can you imagine a time when comic books were considered too indecent to be sold?

Such was the case in the early 1950s when William Gaines and Al Feldstein launched the horror comic book series The Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, and Tales from the Crypt.

The series, first penned in 1950, was published bi-monthly for five years by EC Comics and was extraordinarily popular with teenagers. The popular series trifecta was abruptly cancelled in 1955 when the authors tried to launch a fourth series called The Crypt of Terror. 

This came at a time when parents, teachers, psychologists and clergymen were all accusing violent comic books as the root of juvenile delinquency.

In 1954, the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency held a series of hearings and it was determined that violence in comics needed to be addressed to protect the morality of youth.

The comic book industry established standards to deal with these concerns and violence, the use of the words “terror” and “horror” were banned along with any references to the occult including things like ghosts, werewolves and vampires.

Thus, the Crypt Keeper, Old Witch and Vault Keeper, the fictional narrators of the terrifyingly formulaic series, were now out of a job as the series was cancelled by 1955. 

Until now.

I was a big collector of horror comics as a child in the 1970s. My local used bookstore in the Lake Bonavista Shopping Centre in Calgary had a huge selection of these series and for just 25 cents each so I loaded up every Saturday.

The comics were disturbingly delightful and frighteningly fantastic. (I was always fascinated with the morbid signing out a book about Halloween week after week from the library when I was in Grade 1.)

Fast forward to this week where I get to combine my two childhood loves, Halloween and horror comics, in our latest show The Vault of Horror.

My inner seven-year-old is going crazy with excitement.

New Vintage Theatre is bringing to life five Vault of Horror classics including Daddy Lost His Head, Terror on The Moors, and Lend Me A Hand along with some original sketches in the pulp fiction style written and performed by local playwrights Cat Bonner, Fatima Khan and Benjamin Stevens.

Popular local actors who will also be starring in the show include Brent Applegath, Kristi Hack, Randy Jernidier, Josie Morrow, Braeden Rachfall, Aly Rothery, Brock Gratz and Reid Gratz.

There will be candy and comic books with every ticket purchased for our live show along with some Halloween tricks and treats.

For those too scared to come out, we are also offering an online ticket to view a filmed version of the play by James Alton. This ticket can be purchased and viewed any time until Nov. 30.

Either way, we promise you a great evening of “juvenile delinquent” fun. Right now the arts need you and you need the arts, so support us and buy a ticket, OK? This show is suitable for 12 plus.

Tickets for New Vintage Theatre’s live Vault of Horror Oct. 29-30 shows at the Black Box Theatre are available at https://www.showpass.com/the-vault-of-horror-live-comic-book-performance/

Online tickets are available at https://www.showpass.com/the-vault-of-horror-online-comic-book-comedy/

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

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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