‘Les Mis’ to Sunfest: lots to love in Cowichan in 2014

A year of stellar entertainment, Cowichanstyle, began early in 2014 when Shawnigan Lake School held its annual musical in January. They presented Little Shop of Horrors in truly creepy style, breathing zestful life into a show that’s always a favourite with teenage performers.

By February, things were up and running on several fronts.

Nick Versteeg’s long-awaited film, Resilience, about the Cowichan River, was released, and proved remarkably timely considering that the year that followed saw tremendous attention focused on the plight of the river and its water supply.

Later in February, the students of Brentwood College presented Fiddler on the Roof in a super showcase for their young performers.

As the month ended, the Cowichan Music Festival also began to wind down, offering the first of its three gala performance days.

March saw the South Island Musical Theatre Society’s production of My Fair Lady postponed when flu hit the company, most notably their beloved Liza, Sarah Lane.

March also saw the Chemainus Theatre, boasting its newly-refurbished dining room, present Jeeves in Bloom, one of a pair of spring short-run plays, and it brought hilarity to the end of winter.

Young Valley stars Lynnea Bruce and Parker Schmidt, both chosen to compete in the YTV series, The Next Star: Supergroup, thrilled fans with their performance on the exciting TV show.

In April, the first of a whole clutch of great tribute shows came to the Cowichan Theatre when Elvis, Elvis, Elvis roared onto the big stage, offering a taste of Las Vegas in the Cowichan Valley.

By May, plays were hitting stages everywhere. Theatregoers were able to enjoy The Original Cast at the Mercury Theatre, Murder in Green Meadows at the Queen Margaret’s School Theatre and even The Wizard of Oz at Lake Cowichan’s Centennial Hall.

Dance troupes, too, took to stages at the Bunch Theatre at Brentwood and the Cowichan

Theatre for their exciting year-end shows.

By the end of June, it was again time to launch the popular 39 Days of July series of shows at Charles Hoey Park in downtown Duncan. These outdoor events included every kind of performer and Longevity John Falkner again offered Duncan’s Got Talent for young performers.

At the Chemainus Theatre, the annual summer blockbuster was Les Misérables and everyone was waiting to see how the huge show translated to the intimate venue. The verdict: Wowza! And an extended run.

In July, at Providence Farm, everyone was getting ready for the Islands Folk Festival. On the opening night of the festival, Duncan’s Paul Ruszel fulfilled a dream by winning the Island Song Contest.

Elsewhere in the Valley, actors were preparing for the Shawnigan Players’ outdoor presentation of Romeo and Juliet. This Shakespeare favourite opened at Charles Hoey Park before moving on to its usual venue at Cowichan Station.

Country music fans had been holding in their gathering excitement, waiting for Sunfest 2014 to arrive. When it finally came time, they showed up in record numbers to cheer big names such as Jake Owen, Dean Brody and especially headliner Tim McGraw, cheering to the skies when they heard next year’s top draw is Keith Urban.

By autumn, events had moved indoors again. Stellar presentations of Shirley Valentine and Kiss the Moon Kiss the Sun at the Mercury Theatre brought raves all around.

At the Cowichan Theatre, Gordon Lightfoot, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and even Frank Mills rolled away the years, offering special events for their fans and Stuart McLean brought his Christmas show to the Valley to the delight of adoring fans.

With the holidays on the way, the entertainment scene heated up, too. Several local choirs scheduled performances of Christmas favourites old and new while at the big venues, shows like Winter Harp, The Nutcracker and Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol packed them in for December fun.

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