Shay Kuebler’s Telemetry rocks the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Stage Oct. 13, as part of the society’s 16th performance season. (Photo submitted)

Performing arts experiences for the masses

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society announces its 16th season

Whether you’re six or 60, new to the world of performing arts or a theatre buff, there’s something on offer for everyone.

That’s the goal of the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society in its 2017-2018 season.

“We try to program for everything so there’s something for the whole community,” said the society’s artistic director Erin Kennedy, emphasizing the distinction between the society and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre as a rental venue. Kennedy watches the shows that rent the venue, such as Serena Ryder and City and Colour, and curates the society’s offerings accordingly.

This season is host to Captain Future Saves the World in the kids series, Toronto Dance Theatre’s House Mix in the dance series, Arts Club Theatre Company’s performance of Stephen King’s thrilling novel Misery in the theatre series, crowd favourite Mike Delamont’s God is a Scottish Drag Queen: The Second Coming in the special series, and everything in between.

To kick off its 16th season, the society is hosting a special birthday bash featuring the riotous thundering drums of Uzume Taiko Sept. 30.

“It’s a special cross of martial arts and power,” Kennedy said of the birthday bash. “It’s a fun show for the whole family.”

But before Uzume Taiko takes the stage, the society has partnered with the Okanagan Regional Library for a special Book Smack event Sept. 29, as part of the 2017 Culture Days.

Local celebrities, authors and librarians will be in the hot seat as they pitch their favourite reads to the audience while being heckled by the MC. Each book smacker has only a few minutes to race through their list of roughly 20 to 30 books.

“You walk away with a lot of books and your reading list for the year,” Kennedy said.

Immediately following the book smack and birthday bash is Shay Kuebler’s Telemetry — a performance that was created, in part, at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

“Shay came up and created the technical elements on our stage,” Kennedy said of the Oct. 13 performance. “It’s a total fusion of hip hop, martial arts and contemporary dance. It’s a little more esoteric — how sound creates music.”

Unlike with most dances, as dancers gyrate and stomp on stage to Telemetry, lights are triggered for an all-encompassing experience.

“The tech really is tied to the dancing,” said Keyanna Burgher, the society’s audience development officer. “Shay’s team is at the cutting edge of creating this technology.”

Mere days after Kuebler’s impressive contemporary performance, the award-winning CBC Radio satire duo Pat Kelly and Peter Oldring grace the Vernon stage with a live rendition of This is That.

“It’s really popular,” Burgher said. “To see it on stage will be really cool.”

For the younger performing arts enthusiasts, four kids series performances, including Toad Prince, Thumbelina, Captain Future Saves the World and Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch sing and dance through the spring and fall. Also on offer are two sing along style performances — Will Stroet and His Backyard Band Oct. 22 and The Kerplunks April 15 — aimed at ages two and up.

“We recently started a group just for toddlers,” Kennedy said. “You don’t have to be a toddler to attend, it’s just a fun, family environment to enjoy the show.”

The kids and first stages series, along with special student pricing for society events, are all toward the society’s goal of making the arts more accessible for younger generations, Kennedy said.

Audiences have the opportunity to get up close and personal with performers in two on stage concerts, with William Prince Nov. 29 and 30 and Jenn Grant Feb. 3 and 4. For these special series performances, 110 fans swarm the stage alongside the musicians for an intimate concert experience.

“Just the idea of sitting on stage, it’s such a different idea for audience members,” Burgher said, adding that she is excited to see both shows.

With the array of offerings on the horizon, Kennedy is excited for another eventful season for the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society.

“Our role is to bring things in to Vernon that wouldn’t normally come here.”

For more information, full events or tickets to all Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society shows, contact the Ticket Seller, www.ticketseller.ca, 250-549-7469. Admission costs vary from show to show, with dance, theatre, kids and first stages subscriptions available through the box office.