While Victoria’s artistic community entertains and inspires audiences year-round, winter really is given over to celebrating the local arts scene.
Dance Victoria boasts a busy winter calendar, opening with Alberta Ballet’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, featuring the songs of Sarah McLachlan November 8 and 9. This Grammy, Juno and Gemini Award-winning artist has sold more than 40 million recordings worldwide and raised more than $7 million for charity.
Following Alberta Ballet’s magical performance of The Nutcracker, January brings a Ballet British Columbia Triple Bill to the Royal Theatre January 30 and 31, including two new works by Finnish-born choreographer Jorma Elo and director Molnar as well as a visually striking work entitled Walking Mad by Swedish choreographer Johan Inger set to Ravel’s Bolero.
New this year from Dance Victoria is Night Moves, a contemporary dance festival coming to local stages February 6 to 8. Hosted at the Metro Studio, the festival features Out Innerspace’s Me So You So Me, The 605 Collective’s Inheritor Album and battery opera’s Jung-ah and Su-Feh and Everything.
Live on stage
Langham Court Theatre continues its 2013-14 season with Heroes, a dramatic comedy by Gérald Sibleyras. On stage November 13 to 30, this 2006 Laurence Olivier Award-winner for Best New Comedy takes the audience back to 1959 and Gustav, Phillippe and Henri are once again under siege. The three First World War heroes have been living for years in a home for retired soldiers and have formed an uneasy friendship. But the overbearing nuns and relentless repetition of days has them plotting one more escape. A playful character study full of camaraderie and hope.
The Belfry Theatre has a busy winter lineup, starting with British playwright Ben Power’s A Tender Thing November 5 to December 8. In this re-imagining of the text of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, rather than taking their own lives as in the original, the young lovers have grown old together. Now, as their lifetime of love and marriage comes to a close, they must contemplate being alone. Shakespeare’s timeless poetry creates a new deeply romantic and powerful play in a strikingly different love story.
Home Is A Beautiful Word takes the Belfry stage January 7 to 19. A kaleidoscopic view of a subject about which everyone has an opinion and almost no one has an answer, this special project was commissioned by the Belfry Theatre, and playwright/journalist Joel Bernbaum spent more than a year interviewing hundreds of people in Victoria about homelessness. Conversations in Grade 4 classrooms, senior citizens homes, businesses, homeless shelters and on doorsteps have been transcribed and edited into a fascinating play: a portrait of homelessness in our community, in the words of our community.
Opening February 4 is Proud, by award-winning playwright Michael Healey, who here takes on his biggest subject yet: Prime Minster Stephen Harper. This sexy, cheeky and surprising play will have you rolling in the aisles – regardless of your politics. Proud imagines a different outcome to the last Federal election – the Tories took Quebec and won a huge majority, including a young, attractive and inexperienced MP. Unfortunately for the PM, she may be the smartest man in the room!
At the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre, Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth is on stage November 7 to 23. Absurdly funny and very profound, this 1943 Pulitzer Prize-winning satire from the author of Our Town takes us on a wild and raucous tour through the ages. Revolutionary when first written, The Skin of Our Teeth is a play for our time.
Come the new year, Phoenix presents William Inge’s Picnic, February 13 to 22. On the last day of summer in small town Kansas, unfulfilled dreams and repressed desires come to a head when a charismatic young drifter arrives in town. His combination of rough manners and titillating charm sends everyone reeling, including the Owens sisters (Millie, the smart one, and Madge, the pretty one), their determined mother, Madge’s college-bound boyfriend, the watchful neighbour and the spinster schoolteacher who boards at the Owens’ house. This 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama delves into the post-war/pre-feminist American psyche, when youth dreamed big and yearned for change while an older generation held on to, even while sometimes lamenting, traditional ways.
Whether your musical tastes lean to Elvis or Ariadne, Victoria’s music scene truly has something for every taste.
November brings everything from a modern rock showcase to the Victoria Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s concert version of The Pirates of Penzance, a wonderfully witty satire of cherished institutions and attitudes, bumbling police, a pompous military and slavish devotion to duty, all skewered with rapier wit of Gilbert and Sullivan.
Pop culture buffs can take in the Rocky Horror Show November 1, or hold out for some of the world’s most popular tribute artists, with O What A Night, A Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons November 12, The ABBA Show, November 13, and Randy “Elvis” Friskie’s tribute to the The King January 18.
The Victoria Symphony offers a wide array of performances, from its Concerts for Kids series (including Canadian favourite The Hockey Sweater!) to a joint performance with Pacific Opera Victoria, South Pacific in Concert, November 23 and 24. Other seasonal highlights include a series of Christmas performances, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, and renowned pianist Jon Kimura Parker playing Brahms in January.
In February, Pacific Opera Victoria presents Strauss’s “cockeyed take on art, love and fidelity,” Ariadne Auf Naxos. When plans to treat his guests first to a new opera, then a burlesque farce go awry, the host of a Viennese party orders that both works be staged simultaneously. “What follows is a musical class war as players perform a quirky mashup of high-minded opera and earthy comedy.”