MELANIE MINTY: Happy memories of our city’s ‘King of Swing,’ Dal Richards

Also: Scripts, director applications welcomed by White Rock Players' Club

Celebrated Vancouver bandleader Dal Richards died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 97.

SURREY — Happy new year. Happy. That seems to be the word for 2016. We want everyone to be happy in this new year. Happy, happy, happy. Ignore the negative news, like falling stock markets, dropping dollar and international conflicts. Don’t worry, be happy. And good news in this age of technology, we can totally share silly things with each other on Facebook.

Some people spend entirely too much time sharing clips of cute cats, the best ways to remove wrinkles, various tests to tell you what kind of person you are, whether you are right- or left-brained and how to be happy. OK, I admit it. I browsed through my Facebook on New Year’s Day while “resting” and recovering from the flu. While some of what I found on Facebook – and how did I get to be friends with so many people I don’t know? – was interesting and amusing, I also found inspiration.

Gordon Mantle, longtime member of White Rock Players Club and frequent stage manager, shared this on his wall, or whatever you call it: “This great weather is a sign that it’s going to be a fabulous year for everyone!” Thanks Gord, we needed that. And thanks for believing in me as an actor. That makes me happy.

Would getting involved in community theatre make you happy?  The WRPC board welcomes submissions of scripts and resumés of directors for consideration for its 2016-2017 season. Submit scripts and resumes to Fred Partridge, board chair, PO Box 75014, White Rock, B.C., V4B 5L3, or drop it off at the Coast Capital Playhouse, 1532 Johnston Rd., White Rock, during box office hours (Wednesday to Saturday, 1 to 5:30 p.m.).

I love musicals, especially ones with lots of dancing. Is this what makes you happy? “Cats,” that memorable musical, will be staged by Fighting Chance Productions at Coast Capital Playhouse from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7. Tickets at Whiterockplayers.ca/tickets/buy-tickets. Better than watching cute cat clips on Facebook, I betcha.

Dal Richards passed away on New Year’s Eve at the age of 97. Perhaps not happy news, but for 79 consecutive years this incredible man rang in the new year with his music. While many people know Dal from this long-standing gig, there are legions who were inspired, touched and transformed from meeting Dal in person. I still have a program he signed for me. He took the time to chat – it wasn’t just a signing. It was a conversation.

Many people made comments about Dal on Facebook after his death. Jennifer Bishop, founding member of the West Coast Tap Dance Collective and the group’s current president, posted this: “I got to teach this swinger to tap for his 90th birthday.  Every time the phone rang, he would run down his spiral staircase to answer it. Told me he did a half hour on his stationary cycle every day. I’ll never forget how cheeky he was.”

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Well, you see, according to Jennifer, Dal expressed a wish to learn how to tap dance. At age 90. I also started to learn the art of tap dancing at a sort of advanced age. I makes me happy.

Jeremy Crittenden posted: “He invited me to be on his radio show, ‘Dal’s Place,’ twice, to my absolute delight. He’d come to see ‘Altar Boyz’ of all things, and loved it. He was an incredible talent, a true gentleman and a super cool guy.”

I remember that show at Surrey Arts Centre as part of the Arts Club on Tour series. And I met Jeremy. As part of the show, an audience member is plucked from the audience, brought up on stage and is sung to. Jeremy was the plucker, and I was the pluckee. The show got a very good review from me.

The Arts Club Theatre Company continues to bring great shows to Surrey Arts Centre every year. “In a Blue Moon,” produced in association with Western Canada Theatre (Kamloops) and Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque, ON), plays the arts centre’s Main Stage from Jan. 13 to 23. Tickets range in price from $25 to $47, including all fees, at the box office (604-501-5566, Tickets.surrey.ca). It’s live theatre. You never know what might happen. Maybe you will meet someone who knew the legendary Dal Richards, or find a new reason to be happy.

Here’s the last word on Happy: Make a list of things that make you happy. Make a list of things you do every day. Compare the lists. Adjust accordingly. It’s going to be a great year. Gordon Mantle said so. I believe. Besides, it was on Facebook.

melminty@telus.net

 

 

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