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Lester Centre season takes on “Re-boot” theme in a variety of ways

The 2023-2024 season kicks off Sept. 23 with a Saltwater Hank and the T. Buckley Trio double bill
The stage of the 702-seat Lester Centre theatre as seen from the balcony. (Contributed photo)

The Lester Centre for the Arts has released its 2023/2024 schedule.

The season, which has been named “Re-Boot,” will explore the many ways that performers and audiences can get back into the flow of things.

“Everyone needs to recharge, rejuvenate and relax,” says Chris Armstrong, General Manager of the Lester Centre. “But once that break is over, you need to get back into the flow of things. You need to Re-Boot back into life.”

With that in mind, the upcoming season will consider the many interpretations of Re-Booting, and how we can establish new beginnings and discover new paths for ourselves.

For musicians, one result of a Re-Boot is a new album. Many of the musicians featured in this year’s season have recently released a new album, or will be releasing new music this year.

Local artist Saltwater Hank (Sept. 23) has recorded a new album of songs inspired by his Tsimshian culture; in some cases, he’s Re-Booting those traditional songs with modern interpretations.

Canadian rock legends and Juno award-winners 54•40 (Oct. 20-21) will be releasing a new album, “West Coast Band,” which was recorded remotely during the lockdowns of the pandemic, and which celebrates the common history they share as band members.

Another Juno award-winner, and winner of a Grammy award in 2022, Alex Cuba (Jan. 20), based in Smithers, will be touring his new album released earlier this year: “El Swing Que Yo Tengo.”

The word “Re-Boot” can also be used to describe taking something that’s well known, putting a spin on it, and presenting it in a new, yet familiar, form. Shakespeare has been Re-Booted countless times over the past few hundred years, and the Lester Centre is following that tradition in our production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare {Abridged} (Apr. 18-20), where three actors perform all of Shakespeare’s plays in 90 minutes.

While that may physically challenge the actors, our audiences may be challenged intellectually by the choreography of “taqəš and Other Works” (March 30), a stunning line-up of signature works from Ballet Kelowna’s contemporary ballet repertoire, where audiences will enjoy the fusing of traditional First Nations dancing with modern ballet in pieces by Cameron Fraser-Monroe in addition to Guillaume Côté’s riveting “Bolero.”

When you Re-Boot, you’re a bit different, but you’re still you. In that case, Re-Booting can be seen as a reprise. With that in mind, we’re bringing back comedian Mike Delamont with his popular show, God is a Scottish Drag Queen Christmas Special (Dec. 16).

We are also once again presenting a show by Lightwire Theater, who appeared on our stage a few years ago; this time, they’re back with Dino-Light (May 12), a show for all ages, where glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs go on a journey in a pitch-dark theatre. We will be ending our season, as usual, with the ever-popular young musicians of Ring System Studios as they stage another Rockstock (May 25).

Re-Booting, though, is mainly about something new, an experience that may change your perception.

That’s why we’re bringing in some artists that fuse musical styles like the T. Buckley Trio (Sept. 23), who bring a fine sense of musicianship and songwriting. The bluegrass, country and roots arrangements of this trio delivers Buckley’s well-crafted songs and unique interpretations of their musical influences.

We’ll also be presenting a klezmer-influenced band out of Montreal, Oktopus (Feb. 8), whose eight musicians incorporate components of classical, Quebecois, and jazz repertoires.

While there is a common link between the Lester Centre presentations, you may also see elements of Re-Booting in other shows that come to the stage, including the Charles Hays Secondary School drama program’s version of Something Rotten (Nov. 30-Dec. 2), or perhaps through the talented dancers of the B.C. Annual Dance Competition (May 5-11), or the year-end performance by the Dance Academy of Prince Rupert (June 15-16).

“The very nature of the performing arts helps us to Re-Boot, to see things in a different way, and to be energized by a show with a live audience,” said Armstrong. “We hope these performances Re-Boot your mind and spirit, and your relationships to your loved ones and the world.”

Tickets for the new season will be available next week. Season passes will also be on sale. The schedule is subject to change as the season progresses.

- Contributed article