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On Stage: Lessons leads the way to much music in coming weeks

Bema Productions brings the Canadian premiere of “Lessons” to the stage this month.
Genevieve and The Wild Sundays perform alongside The Unfaithful Servants at Oak Bay Recreation Centre April 13. (Submitted photo)

Bema Productions brings the Canadian premiere of “Lessons” to the stage this month.

A thoughtful, compelling play about finding faith and love in a sometimes violent and alienating world. “Lessons” is performed by Christine Upright (last seen as Edna in Bema’s “Prisoner of Second Avenue”) and Alf Small (“Horowitz and Mrs Washington”). Zelda Dean directs.

When Ben finally decides to have a Bar Mitzvah he hires Ruth, a Rabbi who’s lost her faith, to tutor him. The two characters forge a friendship as they each search for healing and forgiveness while wrestling with their own deep-rooted problems. “Lessons” is a touching, funny and poignant drama that asks the question: Can we find healing and forgiveness when our beliefs are questioned?

Wendy Graf is an award winning playwright whose plays have been produced throughout North America. “Lessons” was first produced in 2004 by West Coast Jewish Theatre and The Group at Strasberg in West Hollywood.

Tickets are $22 available online at, at 101-804 Broughton Street, or at the door.

Now in its 91st year, the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival still provides an opportunity for Victoria-area students to be adjudicated by renowned experts in the arts.

For six weeks, during April and May, these talented young people and adults perform on stages throughout the city in 16 disciplines: Brass, Classical Guitar, Choral, Composition, Dance (School and Studio), Ethnic Dance, Fiddle, Musical Theatre, Piano, School Bands, School Orchestras, Speech and Dramatic Arts, Strings, Voice and Woodwinds. Our Highlights concerts showcase this amazing talent. The public is invited to attend these adjudicated sessions and Highlights Concerts, to support our performers and enjoy the many outstanding performances. A detailed listing of these sessions and of their participants is available at This year too, the GVPAF association is excited to announce that Victoria was chosen to host the Provincial Festival for 2018, which follows our festival later in May and will be held at various venues around the city.

South Island Harmony (formerly The Victoria Village Squires) celebrates 50 years of making harmony on south Vancouver Island with a concert on April 14.

Director Peter McBride is excited to take the chorus through its paces ahead of the show.

“We have been working hard to perfect our presentation for this unique event on the South Island,” explains McBride, who brings a wealth of experience to this chorus.

They celebrate with the most amazing chorale event Victoria will see this year. This must see gala features 100 singers on stage for the finale. Guests include the Vancouver Thunderbirds barbershop chorus as the chorus who sponsored them into the harmony society 50 years ago; the Tidesmen from Nanaimo who the locals sponsored into the society; and the championship chorus Pacific Edge from Victoria.

“There will also be top performing quartets,” says show director David Wilson.

Get your tickets early as this is sure to be a sell out. Discounts are available for group purchases 10 tickets and over.

There will be a 2:30 p.m. matinée followed by a 7:30 evening performance. Visit for tickets and information. Victoria, Oak Bay and Esquimalt municipalities have declared April 8 to 14 ‘Barbershop Quartet Week’ in honour of the gala.

Victoria Baroque presents Music for Passiontide On Wednesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

The musical offering of baroque works written for the Holy Week preceding Easter, features works by Bach and Pergolesi. Playing on instruments of the 18th century – including wooden flute, bassoon, strings and chamber organ – Victoria Baroque brings listeners closer to the soundworld of the Baroque Era.

Co-presented with the Church of St. John the Divine, Victoria Baroque will combine their talents with The St. John’s Chamber Singers, under the direction of David Stratkauskas. Two accomplished young singers, Hungarian soprano Adriána Kalafszky and Canadian mezzo-soprano Jardena Gertler-Jaffe, will star in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

The concert commences with Bach’s joyful Cantata for Palm Sunday, Himmelskönig sei willkommen BWV 182 for soloists, choir, and instruments. The second half of the concert is darker in tone, featuring Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, a setting of a 13th-century meditation on grief and loss, scored for two soloists and strings. The concert ends with a 16th-century choral motet for Good Friday, Ecce quomodo moritum by Jacob Handl.

The April concert series by Beacon Ridge Productions at Upstairs Lounge, Oak Bay Recreation Centre includes a couple of double bills.

The series starts Friday, April 6 with Washington & Cook Quintet. Best described as Funkified Urban Jazz’, Maureen Washington and Daniel Cook play a unique blend of blues, funk, jazz, Latin & roots music. Classic standards and well-crafted original songs are performed with Ryan Tandy, Damian Graham and special guest Jerry Cook.

The double bill is Friday, April 13 with the The Unfaithful Servants plus Genevieve and The Wild Sundays. With an exciting approach to traditional Americana, folk, bluegrass & country music, The Unfaithful Servants serve up explosive instrumentals and compelling story-telling, Featuring soaring harmonies, catchy original songs and foot-stomping fiddling, Genevieve & The Wild Sundays is an all-female quintet whose music is rooted in old-time country, incorporating Eastern European folk, Americana, and indie-pop.

A special Saturday, April 14 show features Groove Kitchen & The Radcliffes. Enjoy a fun evening of dance music. This double bill evening features two of Victoria’s most in demand dance bands: The Radcliffes (a new configuration arising from the popular The Sutcliffes) and Victoria’s funk & soul masters, Groove Kitchen. Tickets are limited.

Friday, April 20 Ken Hamm with special guest Dave Harris hit the Upstairs Lounge. Hamm is a Juno Award winner and Great Canadian Blues Award Winner who performs a varied repertoire of original and traditional songs ranging from metal-guitar driven hard-edge blues workouts to softer dobro and banjo pieces. Victoria’s one-man-band, Dave Harris, will open the evening.

Saturday, April 28 hear Pearl Django. Seattle based Pearl Django is one of the most highly regarded Hot Club style groups in North America with a signature style marked by pristine and dexterous string work, the steady pulse of rhythm guitar and an unmistakable swing that delights audiences of all musical sensibilities.

All concerts are in the Upstairs Lounge, Oak Bay Recreation Centre, 1975 Bee St. Doors open at 6 p.m. for dinner service, concerts start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 at Ivy’s Bookshop & Oak Bay Recreation Centre and; $25 at the door.

Palm Court Light Orchestra brings April Showers to the Dave Dunnet Community Theatre in April.

Al Jolson’s famous song offers a program of popular music from the music hall and vaudeville stage extending into early Broadway musicals including selections from Jule Styne’s 1963 Funny Girl starring Barbara Streisand. Rebecca Hass, mezzo soprano, performs April 5 in Sidney and April 6 at 2:30 p.m. in the theatre at Oak Bay High. Get tickets at Ivy’s Books, Munro’s Books and Long & McQuade.