A look back at Arts & Entertainment happenings in Surrey in 2015:
In January, the Now was at Surrey City Hall when Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill (pictured at left, with gun) rehearsed scenes for his appearance in “The Flash” TV series, in an episode that featured a mayoral candidate’s re-election gala. As The Trickster, Hamill’s role was to poison the party-goers. The big atrium of Surrey’s fancy new city hall was a perfect fit for the shoot, said Greg Jackson, the show’s location manager. In 2014, scenes for the series were filmed at Guildford Town Centre, Tynehead Park and at the SFU Surrey/Central City Shopping Centre complex. “Just by fluke, the series is set in a town called Central City, so that was a nice fit working there,” Jackson said of the latter location. In May, zombie-show fans freaked when scenes for the “Fear the Walking Dead” TV show were filmed at the school district building at the corner of 140th Street and 92nd Avenue, which was turned into Sisters of Mercy Hospital for the nighttime shoot.
On the final night of January, local wrestling trailblazer Mark “Gorgeous Michelle Starr” Vellios said his final goodbye to the ring during an emotional “Superbrawl” event at Cloverdale’s Alice McKay Building.
Surrey’s “Concrete Cook” David Jorge earned the title of Canada’s latest “MasterChef” on the CTV show in May. Jorge told reporters he will bank his $100,000 prize money as he looks to open a restaurant. “I set a goal, showed up in Toronto with 50 people. Seven weeks later I walked out of there myself and it was amazing, absolutely, truly amazing,” enthused Jorge, a father of two who has worked in the concrete business. As Halloween approached, it was announced that Jorge was going to work with the Joseph Richard Group (JRG) on some special projects, including beer-and wine-pairing dinners and menu items. The Surrey-based JRG operates several pubs and liquor stores in Metro Vancouver, including Townhall public houses, The Henry in Cloverdale, Edith + Arthur in Fleetwood and more.
In May, Raffi Cavoukian – yes, that Raffi – was the keynote speaker as the Surrey Teachers’ Association held its annual convention. Teachers from across the city packed the gym at Princess Margaret Secondary to hear the beloved children’s entertainer, who was critical of the B.C. Liberals during the 2014 job action. “I have a lot of friends this morning,” he told the crowd, “and I’m a friend of teachers.” In his hour-long talk, Cavoukian tossed in a few barbs aimed at Premier Christy Clark.
In June, Canadian pop-country star Shania Twain talked about her impoverished childhood at a press event held at Hjorth Road Elementary in Surrey. Looking glam in tinted glasses, the singer was there to announce funding for the Guildford-area school through her Shania Kids Can Program. The money will help students at the school who need assistance with the basics of getting a proper education. “I’m very excited and emotional about today,” Twain said as star-struck teachers, students and school board officials gathered in a small classroom.
In the dry heat of early July, Deadmau5, The Weeknd, Tyler The Creator and other electronic/hip-hop artists turned Holland Park into a sweaty dance party for two days during the inaugural FVDED in the Park musical festival. Close to 26,000 ticketholders filled the concert venue, created by Live Nation Canada in partnership with Blueprint Events. “What an excellent event,” said Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann following the festival. “Police were very happy with the attendees who were very well behaved.” A couple of weeks later, the 2015 edition of Surrey Fusion Festival featured guitar master José Feliciano, bhangra duo Jazzy B and Miss Kaur and many others.
“Music saved me,” singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan revealed when she made a September appearance at Surrey Arts Centre to announce an expansion of her namesake music school to Surrey. The Lilith Fair headliner spent an hour talking up the heavy-hitters in the local business community and posing for an endless stream of selfies. She also passionately explained the impetus behind the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. “I was really, really bullied in school. I didn’t have any friends,” the former Nova Scotian told the Now. “So I’d disappear into the gymnasium and play the piano for hours. It was the one thing I could go to that gave me a sense of my own value. I could have gone in a lot of directions, but music channeled me and kept me going on a positive road.”
In the area of Newton known as “The Grove”, an intriguing art installation called “Encyclopedia House” was built by Don Li-Leger and others. The log cabin-like structure, made of thousands of reference books, was assembled in early October and lasted until early December, becoming a gathering place for those who live in the neighbourhood. At first, city officials were reluctant to approve construction of “Encyclopedia House,” fearing liability issues, but the project eventually materialized and proved to be a real success story. “We heard at the beginning that there would be vandalism, people would just tear it down,” said Perry Fulop, manager of community and recreation services in Newton for the City of Surrey. “This area has such a rough reputation, but it’s not really true. It’s changing, transforming. It makes you believe that the next thing you put in here won’t be vandalized, either, and people will embrace it, too.”
In October, we met Surrey’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, who doesn’t live in Surrey but has some roots in the community. Her task will be to serve as an ambassador for the City of Surrey and its people while “advocating for literacy and the literary arts and helping to raise the status of poetry, language and the arts in the everyday consciousness of Surrey residents,” according to the job description. The lawyer-turned-writer found poetry through trauma, as her aunt and uncle, both doctors who lived in India, were killed in 1985 along with everyone else aboard the infamous Air India flight 182. Many years later, Saklikar wrote a book of poetry called “children of air india: un/authorized exhibits and interjections,” which was published in 2013 and has since won several awards and nominations. As Poet Laureate, she aims to be connected with the people of Surrey, and that includes correspondence by a new email address (email@example.com) and website (Surreylibraries.ca/poetlaureate).