MINTY: February is a fine time for Sondheim in White Rock

SURREY — It’s February! This month always feels like the beginning of spring to me — although there yet may be some snow in the next few weeks and winter-force storms, it doesn’t matter. It’s February.

Smack in the middle of month is Valentine’s Day. I can hear the cynics out there saying that it is just an artificial holiday created to sell greeting cards. OK, But is it any different than Grandparent’s Day, Labour Day, Arbour Day or any of the other International This or That Day?

Take Valentine’s Day as a reminder to do something you really love to do, but just didn’t make time to do in January. Theatre, music, dance. DO SOMETHING! Make it your Valentine.

Stephen Sondheim is loved by literally millions. His legendary contribution to musical theatre spans over 50 years. He has won an Academy Award, eight Tony Awards (including lifetime achievement), a Pulitzer Prize and the Laurence Olivier Award. Wow. That’s a whole lot of lovin’. And yes, he is the one responsible for "Into the Woods" and other popular musicals like "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and "Sweeney Todd."

White Rock Players’ Club had great success with Sondheim’s "A Funny Thing…" (Stephen, make your titles shorter – there’s only so much room on a poster), so it is no surprise they found February a perfect time to stage "Side by Side by Sondheim," a tribute to, yes, Stephen Sondheim.

Featuring great music performed by an outstanding cast, "Side by Side by Sondheim" runs until Feb. 28 at White Rock’s Coast Capital Playhouse. For tickets, call the theatre box office at 604-536-7535 or email Love it.

Now I am sending a special Valentine to the Surrey Youth Orchestra. Many years ago, I had a child performing with SYO’s junior strings. I also served on the board of directors and helped fundraise. So I’m still bursting with pride and admiration for all the music this outstanding youth organization has produced over the decades.

If you never have heard Surrey Youth Orchestra perform, you have an opportunity to hear them for free! On Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m., the orchestra will present the world premiere of Space and Time. The Surrey Symphony Society commissioned a work for the youth orchestra by Surrey-born composer Jordan Nobles.

With this free concert, Surrey Youth Orchestra will include more than 100 young musicians and make new orchestral music accessible to a wider audience. Gotta love the free part. This initiative is made possible through funding received from the Surrey Cultural Grant program, Surrey Arts Council and MetroVancouver grant programs. Money well spent.

This grand event public performance is Feb. 28 at Surrey City Hall atrium. Wow. New work, world premiere, new space. Well done. Want more information about the Surrey Symphony Society? Visit or email They’re on Facebook (search for Surrey Symphony Society) and also Twitter (@SYOrchestra92).

There, sometimes even I can admit to liking technology, although I still don’t understand the hashtag thing (but I can sort of read music).

I am going to celebrate Valentine’s Day by tap dancing. Yes, I love this art form. For more than 10 years I have been on the board of directors of West Coast Tap Dance Collective. Mostly I am just along for the ride, and help out where I can. The collective is mandated to promote and celebrate the art of tap dancing. I try. I do.

West Coast Tap Dance Collective will hold a Valentine Tap Jam at 7 p.m. February 15 at Kerrisdale Legion (2177 West 42nd Ave., Vancouver). The event will feature the Bill Costin Trio, tap performances, prizes, a chocolate fountain and lots of tapping with friends to great music. You don’t necessarily have to be a tap dancer to enjoy this evening! All dancers are welcome. Tickets range from $5 for members to $10 for nonmembers (memberships available online and at the door). Yes, I will be there. I know it is in Vancouver, and is at an adult-only venue (we get the space for free, then we can pay the musicians), but if you are an adult tapper, grab your shoes, some friends and take a field trip. You will have a great time, make some new tapper friends, and have the best Valentine’s Day ever. Show your love.