Well and truly entertained. That’s how I felt at the conclusion of the 75th Creston Valley Blossom Festival. What the weather did not provide was more than made up by the efforts of volunteers and enthusiastic crowds.
I can’t launch into Blossom Festival kudos without admitting that, for me, the holiday weekend got an unexpectedly fantastic kickoff on Thursday night. We attended Stardust at the Prince Charles Theatre on the recommendation of several people, not really knowing what to expect. Vicki Blake Thompson, the creator of the show, has a reputation as a masterful choir director, but I was completely unprepared for the experience.
Stardust was a sensual feast, with projections of stunning photos, primarily from outer space, providing a backdrop for songs — all star- and sky-related — performed by a nine-person choir and eight musicians. Three actors provided comic and intellectual substance to the show.
I was completely captivated throughout the evening — brilliant singing by an ensemble that included Creston’s angel-voiced Gail Southall, fascinating music and spectacular photography had me thinking of the complexity of our universe in a way I had not previously considered. And appearances by a young (elementary school age, I am guessing, but I can’t even provide his name because no programs were available) actor who was nothing short of spectacular as a professor lecturing his “students” (the singers) about astrophysics.
Stardust might just be the best production I have ever seen in Creston and left me thinking that it would not have been out of place on Broadway.
On Friday evening I arrived back at the theatre to find a lineup of about 200 waiting to get in. The sold-out house was treated to another great evening of entertainment by the Fab Fourever, a Kelowna Beatles tribute group. I will admit to never having felt much like watching tribute musicians, but after last year’s great Johnny Cash show my mind was opened considerably. Still, I was completely unprepared for such a wonderful show. The voices and musicianship were astonishingly good, as was the group’s stage presence. When the Fab Fourever returned to the stage for an encore, demanded with great enthusiasm, they soon had the entire audience singing at full voice. The lyrics of “Hey Jude” aren’t complicated, and the sound that filled the room was thrilling. Hats off to John Huscroft for bringing this group to Creston.
Of course, the opening night festivities are really about the announcement of the citizen of the year, and I was thrilled to hear the name Bev Caldwell announced. I am usually tipped about the winner, but had no inkling this year. Because she is a key Blossom Festival organizer, the selection committee had to take extraordinary measures to keep the honour a secret, and Bev was genuinely shocked when her name was announced. I am always happy when behind the scenes people are acknowledged for their good work, and Bev has been a tireless and extremely effective Blossom Festival volunteer for many years. Thanks to the selection committee for acknowledging her work on the Blossom Festival’s 75th anniversary.
Another non-festival event kept my spirits high on Saturday when we finally got to see Sarah Kapoor’s movie, The Bad Mother. I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s since her school days here in Creston and I had no doubt that I would enjoy the movie. Still, it felt wonderful to watch Sarah, her mom, Sadhna, and Creston’s Mary Scott on the big screen, and to see glimpses of Creston throughout.
The Bad Mother, Sarah insists, is not autobiographical, but it was clearly written by someone with experience as a professional trying to juggle family and career, and to cope with the expectations of others. Sarah was educated as a journalist, but she is a natural actor and a delight whether her scenes are comic or tragic. Sadhna proved to be the perfect foil for her movie daughter — supportive, stern, funny and very wise. The audience clearly enjoyed the movie and smiles were everywhere as we exited the Tivoli Theatre. Thanks to owner Bonnie Geddes for making The Bad Mother available to local audiences.
Throughout the weekend I kept an eye on the sky, wishing that the weather was more co-operative. But from what I saw and the reports I have received, this banner year for the Blossom Festival was a great success, thanks to the many, many people who work so hard to make our community a wonderful place to live.
Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.