Anna Jacyszyn

Being part of the Okanagan’s creative family is such a blessing to me. Although I wish I could attend all the events I write about, I also need to rest in between my own gigs, which forces me to spend time with myself to think of what I want to create/accomplish next.

I love it when I get the chance to be on my own, to garden, read, write this column or to practice the piano, which I don’t do enough of. Sorry, dear mother of mine who spent her hard working dollars and time to take me to lessons that I hated because I just wanted to learn Elton John’s Rocket Man.

It has been over 10 years now that I returned to my home town of Kelowna, fell in love and decide to stay here and as a result. I started Jazz Cafe, my monthly speakeasy at the Black Box Theatre and forged a creative life that has got me to this point.

I’m asked all the time if I miss England and all the travel and my answer is yes, of course, but I have learned and loved more in the Okanagan and I am so grateful for this life I love today.

My tagline at Jazz Cafe is “Where the Gin is Cold and the Jazz is Hot.” So how could I say no to an offer to perform at Big White for their big Gin and Jazz Weekend in the Globe Cafe and Tapas Bar and The Blarney Stone Irish Tavern, Friday and Saturday.

The weekend begins Friday at the Blarney Stone with Crawford and Crossley, featuring Yanti Rowland on vocals, at 7:30 p.m., and gin-inspired dinner and tastings for guests to enjoy.

Saturday, there will be gin tastings with local distilleries from noon to 3 p.m. on the Globe patio as well as a gin cocktail class.

Once you have made your cocktail and feel enthused, mosey on down to the outdoor stage in the Upper Village to listen to some jazz sets with the Anna Jacyszyn Quartet from 2 to 4 p.m. I will be there with Loni Moger on guitar, Bernie Addington on double bass and Stephen Buck on saxophone, flute and clarinet.

That evening back at the Blarney Stone, you will get a chance to listen to Black Cat Soul, who will perform from 7:30-10 p.m. Attendance fee is $20 and the wristband includes the live music cover charges, gin tastings and gin cocktail master class. Purchase in advance at eventbrite.ca/e/gin-jazz-weekend-at-big-white-mountain or at the venues.

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The Capri Poolside Lounge has jazz on the weekend as well, Kinga Heming performs on Friday from 7:30 p.m. and yours truly is performing Saturday at the same time. I will be interviewing Heming about the release of her CD on okanaganvalleyradio.com in a few weeks, so keep listening Saturday mornings at 10:30.

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This Friday afternoon from 4:45 to 6:45 p.m. Magician Leif David will perform his family-friendly magic show outside the LifeWorks Family Chiropractic business on 1740 Gordon Dr.

David has had a passion for magic since the age of eight. He is performing at many venues throughout the week, but I wanted to mention this one because LifeWorks is offering a comprehensive wellness examination, including physical and neurological exam, computerized nerve scans, X-rays and a report of findings for $20, usually a $250 value. This is a great opportunity to take our health into our own hands and start being proactive and preventative. All money raised at this event will go to Central Okanagan Family Hub, which provides support by connecting families, providing a place for children to play and offering referrals to the many social agencies in the Central Okanagan. There will be a food truck and refreshment station.

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I wonder sometimes how people coped back in the old days of Shakespeare, Galileo or Michelangelo. What did a day look like for normal people not hidden away in castles with servants?

Camelot Winery’s annual Medieval Fair may or may not provide the answers, but it will be fun. The event takes place Saturday from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. This day at the winery is for all ages and will offer fun things to do, like using a catapult sling, sword fights and archery.

Tickets are $10 at the door, which includes a complimentary glass of wine. Children from five to 18 years of age pay $5 and kids under five get in free. Water and pop are included in the attendance fee, but the Kitchen Party Food Truck that is on hand to feed the swans and wenches is separate.

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Ballet Kelowna recently announced the company’s 2019-20 season. The local company continues to support a diversity of Canadian dance makers and is the first Canadian ballet company in over 40 years to commission a female Canadian choreographer to create a full-length work.

There will be a guest appearance by National Ballet of Canada principal dancer Greta Hodgkinson.

To view the program in detail as well as purchase your season’s ticket, visit balletkelowna.ca. If you subscribe by Sept. 8, you can enjoy subscriber benefits, including 15% off single-ticket prices, a chance to win a pair of tickets to a Kelowna Actors Studio

2018-19 production and first pick for the Canadian School of Ballet’s The Nutcracker

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Speaking of the Kelowna Actors Studio, they blew the budget for the recent production of The Little Mermaid, which completed a two-week run at the Kelowna Community Theatre last week.

The audiences were charmed.

Rebecca Thackray played the Disney Princes Ariel with beauty and grace, her vocal tone was more of a traditional legit soprano than most Disney princess vocalists strive for. It paired well alongside her handsome Prince Eric (Zander Felton).

Both were new to the Kelowna Actors Studio stage but experienced performing arts graduates of University of Victoria School of Music. Felton had a rich tone to his voice, but also a soft melodic phrase that added the drama when needed for the musical score.

King Triton (Ariel’s father) played by Desmond Parenteau is no stranger to the KAS stage. His rock-inspired singing lent itself well to his songs and it was quite magnificent to gaze at this bare chested Merman.

Most of the ensemble was wearing rollerbladed runners to simulate gliding underwater which was a creative touch that aided in the aquatic fantasy. Ariel’s six sisters put the fun in their fins and gave a surge of energy and colour to the stage that constantly made me giggle with delight.

The theatre’s fly system was utilized and I applaud all the hardworking crew behind the scene with their system of rope lines, blocks and pulleys to make it all look effortless.

Bravo to Hazel Rodgers and her team for visually stunning and elaborate costumes from huge silver jellyfish to butterflies, sea urchins and creatures. And then there was Ursula, the villainous sea witch played by Okanagan’s best known drag queen, Hannah De job. She took this role by the tentacle and squeezed every drop of delight into it.

Stand out for me was Justin Lapena as Sebastian the red crab, ordered by the king to watch over the wandering mermaid princess Ariel. Lapena, a Vancouver based Filipino actor, was the prize of the stage, executing a Jamaican accent with clarity and precision from his speaking to his singing voice, it never slipped.

Another noteworthy nod is to Chef Louis played by Jerome Laroche, He amused us with his song “Les Poissons” and I cheered on as he unabashedly bashed those poor fishes for soup.

I thoroughly enjoyed this show. It was mesmerizing.

Anna Jacyszyn is a local jazz singer. For interviews, arts news and Valley events list to Listen to Around the Valley with Anna each Saturday at 10.45 a.m. on OkanaganValleyRadio.com