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Cave comes alive with wildfire destruction on Vernon stage

The Cave, described as part musical cabaret, nightclub, enchanted forest, is at VPAC Thursday, Oct. 20
A beautiful, dystopian cabaret that gives animals a voice in the climate crisis, The Cave takes the Vernon Performing Arts Centre stage Thursday, Oct. 20, the kickoff to the centre’s 2022-23 SPOTLIGHT Series. (Jeremy Marasigan Photo)

Part nightclub, part enchanted forest, part musical cabaret – come, and be transported into The Cave, a dystopian fable about the folly of our actions as the climate crisis rages around us.

The performance takes place Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre at 7:30 p.m.

A group of animals flee from a vicious forest fire and seek refuge in Bear’s cave. Waiting out the inferno, they reflect on their lives, their lost garden, and their impending doom. These unlikely and singed bedfellows share their stories and take comfort in their newfound community while the fire encroaches.

They comment, through songs, in both English and Cree, on their fate and the fate of the world.

The Cave TRAILER 110 from The Cave Collective on Vimeo.

The cabaret combines haunting music, immersive visuals, and joyous humour into a story that is as captivating as it is timely. Composer John Millard, as the wry and charming emcee, gives context and brings lightness through jokes and stories with his warm self-deprecating playfulness.

The six-person band, led by music director Gregory Oh, swings between playful and dark with compositions reminiscent of Tom Waits and Danny Elfman on banjo, accordion, keys, reeds, and percussion.

Four superb vocalists – Alex Samaras, Maryem Tollar, Derek Kwan, and Andrea Koziol – bring to life the cast of both compelling and comedic creatures; including a workaholic beaver, a very hungry wolf, and the oldest creature of all: an ancient grandmother spider whose memory spans centuries.

Directed by Dora Mavor Moore Award-winner Adam Paolozza, The Cave was conceived for the Luminato Festival by renowned Canadian artists John Millard (music), Tomson Highway (lyrics) and author Martha Ross (book writer) to address the dire effects of climate change in a poignant yet entertaining way.

“I was born and raised in the completely natural environment,” said creator Tomson Highway, “specifically in Manitoba where it meets Nunavut and Saskatchewan. It was completely safe, and a blissful experience to live in that ‘garden’. And a true garden it was. Now, a half-century later, it is no longer safe to live up there. The reason? Forest fires. Hundreds of them every summer.

“In Fort McMurray’s fire some 2,000 people lost their homes. How many animals lost theirs? The destruction was, and is, gargantuan. That is to say, the current state of global warming is their eviction from the garden. And it is ours.”

“The Cave is one of those shows that makes you laugh and cry and feel motivated to do better,” said VDPAC artistic director Erin Kennedy. “I had actually booked this show before the summer of 2021, but I think because our community has been directly impacted by fires it will resonate with local audiences on a deeper level.”

For tickets call 250-549-SHOW (7469) or visit

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