An inaugural Speakeasy Festival opens at the Sunset Theatre in Wells on Thursday, July 28 and goes until July 31.
“While the secret Speakeasy was born out of the 1920’s prohibition, which no longer exists, it was decided creating a Speakeasy Festival was timely,” said Julia Mackey, director of presentations at Sunset Theatre.
“It has been a few years since people have truly been able to fully ‘Speak Easy’ together and it feels like the right time to gather and celebrate stories through theatre, music and even a few Speakeasy era silent films with live piano accompaniment.”
The theatre itself was built in 1934 so it has a history from the SpeakEasy era as well.
“We’ve been talking about doing a festival for a long time,” Mackey said.
Ten different shows are featured over the course of the four days.
There are five theatre productions to take in, including Fringe legend TJ Dawe’s latest play, Blueberries are Assholes.
“TJ gives his storytelling muscles a rest to try something new: an hour of jokes and observations, riffing on food, the English language, the human body and the tremendous overall weirdness of the world we overlook every day,” Mackey noted.
Mackey said award-winning performer and playwright, Nicolle Natrass’s latest play Suddenly 50! is a funny, poignant and universal reflection about growing in years.
Four of the five theatre performances come out of something called the “Exploration Series” where the Sunset Theatre applies for funding from Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council to help artists create new plays.
“We are really excited about that,” Mackey said.
There are also four musical acts to experience including the mesmerizing voice of soul and blues musician, Lindsay Robertson, and Mackey warned the audience will “fall in love” with Madeline Tasquin’s heavenly voice as she shares intimate acoustic chamber-country folk-pop.
On Saturday evening the silent film accompaniment will be provided by Patrick Courtin.
“Those silent films are all Buster Keaton films,” Mackey said. “Patrick will play live, which would have happened during the 20s so that’s kind of cool.”
Island Mountain Arts artist in residence, Zaynab Wilson, will headline a pay-what-you can Summer s’wells performance featuring the Forest Narratives created by Zaynab and local IMA nature camp kids.
The festival kicks off on Thursday, July 28 at 8 p.m. with the much-beloved Sunset Cabaret, now in its 16th year. After the cabaret the fun continues with an opening night Speakeasy Party.
While 1920’s attire is encouraged it is not required.
“What ever makes them the most comfortable,” Mackey said, confirming she will be dressed as close to the era as possible for the welcoming to the cabaret. “It will be nice to have people gathering again after such a long time. We were closed in 2020 for almost seven months and another six in 2021. It seems like a long time since we have been able to do a regular season of programming.”
Patrons can find out more information about each show and purchase individual shows, full day or whole festival tickets at www.sunset-theatre.com. People can also pay in person, but need to reserve a ticket either by phoning the theatre at 250-994-3400 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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