Tree lighting events at Surrey City Hall on Saturday signal the beginning of the Christmas season.

Tree lighting events at Surrey City Hall on Saturday signal the beginning of the Christmas season.


Arts and entertainment events on the Semiahmoo Peninsula with Alex Browne

Christmas on the Peninsula

The official kick-off to Christmas events on the Peninsula returns this Saturday (Nov. 28) with a raft of activities scheduled for uptown White Rock from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (see full schedule details in the insert in this edition).

Main venue of the seventh annual event, organized by the not-for-profit Christmas on the Peninsula Society, will be the White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave. and the adjacent Miramar Plaza.

Events there will include food vendors with seasonal treats; a Christmas market, demonstrations by Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild; Christmas kid crafts and activities hosted by the Salvation Army and White Rock Baptist Church; live entertainment by Miriah Reitmeier and her Incanto Quartet and the tree lighting with music by the Stella Maris Concert Choir, the Regent Christian Academy Brass Quintet and a carol sing-along with the White Rock Children’s Choir at St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

Other favourite events in the uptown area will include the popular Breakfast in Bethlehem at First United Church; Peace Arch Hospital Auxiliary’s Christmas sale at the Elk’s Hall; a music jam at Small Ritual Coffee House; an open house at Coast Capital Playhouse, more children’s activities at White Rock Community Church and Clancy’s Tea Cosy; a movie and a snack at Fellowship Baptist Church; dance demonstrations by Arthur Murray Dance Studio and, yes, that will be yours truly once again reading Christmas-themed stories at Laura’s Coffee Corner.

Jack and the Beanstalk

Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society is back to begin the Christmas pantomime season with Jack and the Beanstalk (Nov. 25-Dec. 6 at Surrey Arts Centre)

Directed by Mike Balser, and produced by Lyn Verra-Lay, it returns to traditional territory – after a few experimental years – with a tried and true British panto script of the fairy-tale favourite, last produced by the society in 1988.

With a set by Omanie Elias that strives to recreate the look of a pop-up book, and costumes by Linda O’Donovan and Chris Roberts, the panto also employs the talents of fellow-veterans Tim Tucker (musical director), Carol Seitz (choreographer) and props mistress Maxine Howchin.

Among familiar faces on stage are experienced and capable principal boy Michelle Gaetz as Jack; Dann Wilhelm, returning to panto for the first time in 10 years as the villainous Fleshcreep; and ever-reliable Samantha Andrews as Jack’s brother Silly Billy.

Jack and the Beanstalk runs Wednesday to Saturday with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For tickets, call 604-501-5566 or visit online.


Golden Cactus Studio

The next in Marilyn Hurst and Chris MacClure’s series of open studio nights at their Golden Cactus Studio at Hillcrest Mall in uptown White Rock (1455 Johnston Rd.) Thursday, Nov. 26, leads into their ‘Friends of the Studio Holiday Show,’ which runs Nov. 27-29.

Thursday night visitors to the open studio night (6-9 p.m.) will get a “sneak peak” of the upcoming show, which features paintings, sculpture, jewellery and ceramics by contributing artists Hurst and MacClure, Vance Theoret, Brent Heighton, Nicoletta Baumeister, David Patterson and John Einerssen.

The open nights at the studio usually run every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring different artists each week to chat with visitors and provide demonstrations.

For more information on the show and upcoming guest artists, call 604-839-3049 or visit Golden Cactus Studio online on Facebook.


Writing for young people

Two local authors with a lot of experience writing for children and teens will be sharing the benefit of their expertise with other writers – and those who have thought about trying their hand in this market – this Saturday (Nov. 28, 11 a.m. to noon) at White Rock Library, 15342 Buena Vista Ave.

The talk by Gina McMurchy-Barber and Lois Peterson also coincides with the launch of their two new books, McMurchy-Barber’s A Bone To Pick, latest in her series of Peggy Henderson archaelogy adventures (Dundurn), and Peterson’s Three Good Things, most recent of her novellas for Orca Currents.

Although they both have early-teen girls as lead characters, they write very different books – McMurchy-Barber’s is an upbeat adventure with a fair amount of comedy relief, aimed at offering inspiration to children younger than her character’s age, while Peterson’s is a slice-of-life drama about a child forced to ‘parent’ a mother struggling with mental illness, in a series aimed at finding resonance, and encouraging literacy, among tweens and teens.

Both, however, can share interesting insights into a literary market with commercial potential, and more than a few artistic rewards.

For information on the talk and book launch, call the library at 604-541-2201.


Handel Society

In its 50th season, the Handel Soiciety choir commemorates 50 years since the end of the Second World War with a concert this Saturday (Nov. 28) at 7:30 p.m. at Good Shepherd Church, 2250 150 St.

The program, with choir and orchestra directed by Johan Louwersheimer, includes Requiem by Maurice Durufle and Mass in Time of War by Joseph Haydn, with soloists Anna Shill, soprano; Tamara Croft, mezzo soprano; Mark De Silva, tenor and Andrew Greenwood, baritone.

For ticket information, visit or call 604-531-3396.


Peninsula Productions

Still too early to think about Christmas? It’s not to early to buy tickets for two upcoming presentations in which Peninsula Productions aims at getting everyone into the spirit of the season.

On Sunday, Nov. 29, the man the legendary Bonnie Raitt referred to as “a triple-threat” and “one of my musical heroes” is back – vocalist/keyboardist/saxophonist John Lee Sanders will return for a fifth Gospel and Blues Christmas Concert with his band, at a new venue based on past demand for tickets.

White Rock Baptist Church (1657 140 St.) will be the setting for a rocking, feel-good seasonal celebration which gets underway at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

The joyous sounds will continue at the same venue Saturday, Dec. 5, when Peninsula Productions presents its ‘Sing-A-Long Messiah’ event with the 80-member Vancouver Bach Choir under the direction of Leslie Dala.

It’s the second year that the choir – a Vancouver tradition since 1930 – has brought Handel’s uplifting masterwork to South Surrey.

Peninsula says that all who wish to “raise their voices in a Christmas spirit” are welcome, be they serious singers, ‘shower singers’ or those who have yet to experience the fun of singing along with a choir.

Tickets are available at South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre (14601 20 Ave.) and Tourism White Rock (1459 Johnston Rd.), or online at

For more information, visit



The White Rock Players Club tradition of a distinctly colourful, over-the-top Christmas pantomime (for the uninitiated, musical comedy with a heavy helping of vaudeville) continues this December with Cinderella (Dec. 4 – Jan. 2, previews Dec. 2-3) at Coast Capital Playhouse (1532 Johnston Rd.).

Based on a classic White Rock Players script by the late Charlotte Johnson, the new version, written by Sara and Lisa Pavilionis (and directed by Lisa) brings together all the traditional, fun-for-the-whole-family elements in the retelling of the favourite fairy tale, including a good fairy, a “magical maniacal” demon and, of course, poor, put-upon Cinderella and her ‘blended’ family.

Sam Brealey stars as Cinderella, with Juliana Peralta as Prince Charming, Katherine Lozada as the Fairy Godmother, Shaun McHale as the Demon, and Ray Van Ieperen as stepmother Clarice Cuttlefish and Jennifer Lane and Bryce Paul Mills as her daughters Mildred and Winifred.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Dec. 6, 13, 20, 26, 27 and Jan. 2 at 2:30 p.m.

Also upcoming this season are Marc Camoletti’s celebrated 1960s door-slammer farce Boeing, Boeing, set to hit the stage March 2-19, and Noel Coward’s brilliant 1930s comedy of manners Private Lives (April 13-30).

The announced season closer will offer not one, but two versions of a classic comedy – a staging, on alternate nights, of both the male and female versions of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.

For panto tickets ($22, $15 children 12 and under and Coast Capital Savings members) call 604-536-7535, or visit


Blue Frog Studios

Victoria, B.C.-based Uncle Wiggly’s Hot Shoes Blues Band – led by Hank ‘Uncle Wiggly” Leonhardt has been around since 1978, and, during extended touring in the 1980s, opened for such legends as Muddy Waters, Joe Cocker, James Cotton, Koko Taylor and Paul Butterfield.

Over the last couple of years the band has extended its act with a Tribute to the Blues Songs of Christmas – with rave reviews in Alberta and on Vancouver Island and that’s the show the seasoned musicians will be bringing to Blue Frog Studios, 1328 Johnston Road, Friday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.

Don’t expect the usual Christmas carols – the show is a collection of traditional Blues Christmas Tunes from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and 60s by the likes of Louis Jordan, Big Joe Turner, BB King, Eric Clapton, Charles Brown and Etta James, plus many more.

The band includes regular members Leonhardt (vocals), Lonnie Glass (bass), Mark Comerford (guitar), Matt McLean (trumpet), Dave Rowse (sax), Andy Graffiti (drums), with special guests Dennis Meneely (former Streetheart Member, on keyboards), Paul Wainwright (sax) and Deb Rhymer (vocals).

Tickets ($35) are available from or call 604-542-3055.


Chamber music

The next White Rock Chamber Music program takes place Saturday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at Crescent Gardens Retirement Residence, 1222 King George Bldg. (beside the Best Western Pacific Inn, also known as the Pink Palace).

The program will feature 16 year-old violinist Julie Lin with two of her violin students; the Christmas-oriented a cappella Kringle Singers (directed by Kathleen Anderson and including Reynhardt Krause); pianist David Chen; Zoe Chen, playing the pipa, an ancient Chinese instrument similar to a lute; and a poetry reading by Caroline McDowall. Admission is $5, with proceeds going to scholarships for youth of the Semiahmoo Peninsula.


White Rock Community Orchestra

The public will be able to see an organization of volunteer music makers that has played a valuable role in the cultural life of White Rock – for some 35 years – showcased Saturday, Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 1480 George St.

That’s when the White Rock Community Orchestra will show off its varied repertoire of classics and light classics, under the baton of director Stuart Martin.

Special guests will be The Cantrix Women’s Choir, directed by Sarona Mynhardt.

The orchestra also performs concerts regularly at various seniors’ facilities during the Christmas season and in the spring.

For tickets ($15, children under 12 free), call 604-535-8949.


White Rock Trad Jazz

The upbeat style of jazz that kept toes tapping through the Roaring `20s and the Dirty Thirties continues to inspire dancers at White Rock Traditional Jazz Society’s regular 2 to 5 p.m. sessions of live Dixieland/Swing each Sunday at the Royal Canadian Legion Crescent Branch 240 (2643 128 St.).

While there’s no jazz this weekend (Grey Cup festivities take precedence), the music will be back on Dec. 6 with drummer Scott Robertson’s Swing Patrol.

Admission (19 and up) is $10 for WRTJS and Legion members, $12 for everybody else).

For more information on upcoming bands visit or call 604-560-9215.


Surrey Symphony Society

Performances by more than 100 youth musicians, members of the Surrey Junior Strings, Intermediate Orchestra and Youth Orchestra, will be the draw to Surrey Symphony Society’s Christmas concert, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. at Chandos Pattison Auditorium, 10238 168 St.

The program includes Beethoven’s exuberant Symphony No. 7 , performed by the full Surrey Youth Orchestra under the direction of Joel Stobbe.

The Intermediate Orchestra, directed by Ben Goheen, will play selections from Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, as well as the Egmont Overture and the holiday favourite All I Want For Christmas.

The Junior Strings, led by Andrea Taylor will perform the first movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, plus Rondeau by Jean-Joseph Mouret (theme of PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre) and Brahms’ lively Hungarian Dance No. 5.

Tickets ($18, $12 students, seniors and alumni) are available at or at the door (cash, cheque or credit cards accepted).


Christmas dinner dance

Another opportunity to get out the dancing shoes – for anyone 50 or over – will be when the members of the Silver Stars Orchestra play for the Christmas Dinner Dance, Saturday, Dec.12 (7-10 p.m.) at Kent Street Activity Centre, 1475 Kent Street.

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. for the event.

Tickets ($25) can be purchased at the centre’s regular Wednesday dances, or for more information, call 604-857-0384.

Also coming up rapidly at the centre is the New Year’s Eve dinner dance, Dec 31, with the Swing City Orchestra playing 8:45 PM till 15 minutes after midnight.

Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets ($35) can also be purchased at the Wednesday dances or for further ticket information call: 604-857-0384 or 604-541-2231.


Young actors sought

There’s still a chance for young actors to audition for a highly-regarded theatre company’s 18th season.

Susan Pendleton’s Young People’s Theatre Company of Surrey (SYTCO) has opened up a few spots for boys and girls in grades 7-10 for the upcoming season.

Contact for audition information.


Encore concerts

The series of well-received afternoon classical performances presented by Encore Peninsula Concerts and co-sponsored by the City of White Rock continues in January at White Rock’s First United Church, 15385 Semiahmoo Ave. Next in the stellar group of world-class classical touring musicians lined up by artistic director Eugene Skovordnikov, himself an internationally-recognized concert pianist, will be Chinese cellist Yinzi Kong and her life and performing partner, American pianist William Ransom (Jan. 31).

Italian piano duo Sergio Marchegiani and Marco Schiavo, both also noted as soloists, will bring out the excitement of Brahms’ piano duets on Feb. 28, while Polish/Belgian pianist Joanna Trzeciak will present Beethoven and Chopin pieces on April 17.

Rounding out the series will be an extra treat – an orchestral performance by the strings of the West Coast Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Albanian maestro Bujar Llapaj) with Skovorodnikov at the piano, and Canadian-American trumpeter Dan Kocurek.

Featured pieces at this concert will be Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart, surely one of the best-known of all classical compositions, and Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings.

Tickets (season and individual) can be purchased online at or at White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russell Ave.


Orchestral recruits

The White Rock Community Orchestra has openings for double bass players and string players – especially violinists and violists. New woodwind and brass players are also welcome. For details, call Don Miller at 604-807-0560 or email, or visit


Symphonists sought

Now celebrating its 30th concert season, the Fraser Valley Symphony is seeking new members in the violin, viola and percussion sections, but also welcomes inquiries from other interested professional-calibre musicians.

Performing alongside world class instrumental and vocal soloists, the orchestra provides an opportunity for auditioned musicians to present a variety of music to audiences throughout the region.

Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings, in Abbotsford.

Contact or call 604-859-3877.


Singers wanted

Pacific Showtime Men’s Chorus, based in Ocean Park, rehearses Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Church, 12953 20 Ave.

The small community chorus of experienced singers is currently seeking new members for all vocal ranges: lead, tenor, baritone and bass.

Offering a big sound in a variety of musical styles, Pacific Showtime has been featured at a many different Lower Mainland events, including show productions, concerts and private functions.

The repertoire is designed to include songs and a singing style that appeal to a wide variety of music preferences, with emphasis on entertainment value, and chance to develop singing skills while having fun and enjoying camaraderie.

Male singers are invited to attend rehearsals to check out the group and, hopefully, join in.

For more information, call 604-536-5292 or email





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