Since the time of the ancient Greeks, theatre has been a vital part of many cultures worldwide, as is certainly the case in Kelowna right now. With a wide and growing number of theatre companies offering high quality and engaging productions to suit all tastes, Kelowna is a great place to be! Whether your tastes run to dark and edgy, original, or a Broadway musical, there is plenty to pick from in this artistic and cultural hub city.
The longest running company in Kelowna, and in fact all of British Columbia, is the Theatre Kelowna Society.
Formed in 1949, they have a proud history of engaging and exciting productions, offering quality entertainment for the whole family. Typically TKS offer three productions a year, including a musical review style show, featuring a theme such as old time radio or the folk music of the 1960’s.
In an intimate setting, the audience is treated to some of the best veteran and up and coming singers in the Okanagan, as well as a healthy dose of humour and fun.
TKS is also known for family holiday shows involving large casts of children and adults, in fun-filled music and dance productions. This is definitely a great way to get in the spirit of the season!
The third show offered is typically a light-hearted comedy full of laughs, just in time for spring. You can learn about the current productions and upcoming auditions, if you or your kids would like to get involved, at their website.
If you’re in the mood for a full-blown Broadway-style production, a visit to the Kelowna Actors Studio should be on your list!
KAS is located on Ellis street in the heart of Kelowna’s Cultural District.
Formed in 2003, the Actors Studio has mounted season after impressive season packed full of astounding music, breathtaking sets, and dazzling costumes.
KAS is also the only licensed dinner theatre in the Okanagan, offering incredible food often themed to match the show. With advanced features like a revolving stage, and professional lighting and sound, you’d be forgiven if you thought the show you were watching was on the stage in New York or London.
Whether it’s a side-splitting comedy, or Tony Award-winning drama by the likes of Tennesse Williams or Edward Albee, you will also find top quality dramatic productions as well.
For young people interested in studying theatre, KAS offers a full slate of classes as well as the private Kelowna Actors Studio Academy, which is integrated into the school system. For a schedule of upcoming productions visit their website.
As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and for Shakespeare Kelowna, the stage can be almost anywhere.
Shakespeare Kelowna works hard to make the Bard’s classic works come to life in a stimulating, accessible way.
From the Island Stage in a waterfront park, to a fabulous setting in one of the areas breathtaking wineries. For over two decades, the company has thrilled audiences with both classic and re-imagined productions of some of the most important and best-loved plays of all time. Romeo and Juliet were seen as warring gangs during the Prohibition, Henry IV complete with helicopter sound effects and military fatigues, and Two Gentlemen of Verona in the psychedelic 60’s.
In recent years, partnerships with local wineries have led to regular summer productions on an outdoor stage, surrounded by vines, amazing architecture, and sips of award-winning local wine. It’s a perfect way to spend an Okanagan summer evening. For tickets and information visit their website.
A relative newcomer to the Kelowna scene, but not without years of experience in Alberta, is New Vintage Theatre.
With their new location in the Rotary Centre For The Arts , ground zero of the Cultural District, this professional company offers an exciting mix of new works and classics re-imagined. New Vintage is a great champion of Canadian theatre, from presenting the works of contemporary playwrights, to fostering locals with the play writing hothouse, you can always find something new and interesting to watch.
Classic plays as well are given the New Vintage spin, from Daphne du Maurier’s haunting Rebecca, to a stage version of the Dustin Hoffman film The Graduate, New Vintage finds new and interesting ways to connect to today’s theatre goers.
The company also offers a full slate of classes for both kids and adults, with many opportunities to get involved, including a live Soap Opera and regular play readings at the downtown Pulp Fiction Coffee House.
For the comic fan or cosplayer in the family, don’t miss New Vintage’s Kelowna Fan Expo taking over downtown with the weird and wonderful world of comics and movies, every March. Visit their website for a full listing of shows, events and classes.
If you like your theatre on the edgy side, you will want to watch for a Fred Skeleton Theatre Company production.
Their mandate is to “push boundaries, stretch limits and introduce the audience to the surprising, the strange and the wonderful.”
They have without question accomplished those goals. From delving into the mind of a serial killer in Christie in Love, to the intelligent and unexpected showdown of the sexes in the Broadway hit Venus in Fur, to sweeping the awards at the Theatre BC Main-stage Festival with the Mark Rothko biography Red.
Fred Skeleton Theatre Company has consistently upped the ante for local audiences. Know for tight, lean, productions and fantastic sets, along with a real dedication to the art of storytelling, this is a theatre experience worlds apart from what you might expect in traditional community theatre. Check them out online at their website!
Located in colourful Cannery Lane, amongst an eclectic mix of fun and funky shops, you will find Bumbershoot Theatre.
Their slogan “For the child in all of us” recognises the evolution of this fantastic children’s theatre company.
They offer a full slate of seven main stage productions each season to challenge, excite, and enthral young and old.
But, the fun doesn’t end there! There’s also classes, young performer productions, and a seemingly never-ending variety of innovative and engaging workshops, courses, and outreach programs, for all ages. Guest instructors have included Canadian stage legend and Phantom of the Opera Jeff Hyslop, and vocal expert Darcy D. And remember, every opening night is PJ Milk & Cookie Night for the kids! More information can be found on their website.
The Red Dot Players offer yearly productions from a wide variety of sources.
It was founded in 2010 as a theatre troupe for Okanagan College students, faculty alumni, and community members.
From classic Noel Coward, to W.O. Mitchell’s quintessentially Canadian Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon, and even original works, you’ll find something interesting and a little off the beaten track! Check their website for information on upcoming productions.
I hope you have enjoyed this quick tour of the Kelowna theatre scene, don’t forget there is lots more going on all the time so keep your eyes and ears open, and get out and enjoy some live theatre — there’s truly nothing like it!