SURREY — The Young People’s Opera Society of BC (YPOS) is entering its 10th year. Has it really been that many years already? Wow. The Society actually began because Patricia Dahlquist was constantly reminded by friends that she had this project in mind, and an opera for children to write. This Dahlquist opera, “The King Who Wouldn’t Sing,” with original score by George Austen, was performed at Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage. The next opera, “Spirit Moon,” was also an original work and centered on the time when B.C. officially became a province.
It takes a huge effort to write and score any musical piece. These efforts are good reasons why Dahlquist is a Surrey Civic Treasure. YPOS would not exist without her continuing dedication. And it hasn’t been an easy, successful road either. Against constant obstacles, Dahlquist remains enthusiastic: “This coming year, George and I are putting together a production team to film our second original opera, ‘Spirit Moon,’ which includes Surrey resident Angus Stuart, singer, educator and teacher, who directed the stage production in 2008.”
These people just don’t believe in the word “impossible.”
In the meantime, this dedicated group continues with live performances. Rehearsals and performances are at the cozy, useful Newton Cultural Centre. The next presentation is “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” and this is just the perfect time of year for this Christmas classic. This is the story of a poor crippled boy visited by the three kings on their way to see the baby Jesus. Yes, I know not everyone celebrates Christmas in our wonderfully rich and diverse cultures. But the story is heartwarming and magical.
This family-friendly, beautifully written classic, by Gian Carlo Menotti, unfolds at Newton Cultural Centre (13530 72nd Ave.) on Nov. 25, 26 and 27 under the baton of Dolores Scott, a respected teacher who lives in Surrey and is a member of the Arts Council of Surrey. Scott joined Young People’s Opera Society of BC as its new artistic director in 2015. Along with accompanist Joanne Sommer-Millar, Scott directs this cast of 27 in the society’s ninth production. Tickets are $20/$15 at the door and at Eventbright.com. For more details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/yposbc.
Newton Cultural Centre is becoming a popular place for community theatre events. The “black box” studio theatre can be adapted for different performing groups, and is ideal for the newly minted Naked Stage Productions Society. This is a “readers theatre” company, and its first effort, “Any Wednesday,” was a surprising success. There are no costumes, sets, props or blocking (that’s where the director tells the actors where to move on the stage). The actors are all seated, and read from scripts. Not only does this presentation keeps costs down, it requires fewer rehearsals and thus is very affordable. And it works.
Next up for Naked Stage is Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” this Friday and Saturday evening (Nov. 18-19, 7:30 p.m. show times) and also on Sunday, Nov. 20 starting at 2 p.m. This romantic comedy featured Robert Redford in its Broadway debut in 1963. It was a smash hit and ran for more than 1,500 performances. I bet the actors really knew their lines by the end of that run!
Naked Stage does not have Robert Redford but does have a delightful cast. Croy Jenkins returns for his second performance with Naked Stage and, once again, gets the girl. Tracey Carlson, a newcomer to the stage, and acting, went to a performance of “Any Wednesday” in September and thought she could do this type of stage production. Yep, she can.
Lyn Verra Lay, Neil Olson and Andy Whitmore complete the cast. It’s a fun concept, and judging by the first presentation, you will be totally entertained. The theatre’s portable seating isn’t the comfiest, so do feel free to bring your own tush cush. Tickets are available at Brownpapertickets.com/event/2698127 and at the door.
One more little addendum I forget last week: The FVGSS production of the panto “Pinocchio” opens this week at Surrey Arts Centre’s Main Stage. What I forgot to mention is that FVGSS collects new toys for the Surrey Christmas Bureau. This is a lovely way to celebrate the season. Bring along a toy to the show; a donation box is in the lobby. This show looks to be a real winner, and weekend matinees are perfect for family outings. After all, ’tis the season for family, music and magical moments.