Dann Wilhelm plays singer Max opposite Fred Partridge’s operatic impresario Henry Saunders in “A Comedy of Tenors,” a White Rock Players Club production at Coast Capital Playhouse. (submitted photo: Jill Quick/White Rock Players)

MINTY: Live a little and see Paris-set ‘A Comedy of Tenors’ for laughter and love

Also, Surrey Art Gallery’s latest ‘Art Bus’ tours contemporary art spaces in Chinatown

By Melanie Minty, arts columnist

The motto for the month of February should be, “Live, laugh, love.” We have Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Family Day, just for starters. OK, so those are made-up holidays, of sorts. I mean, really, a groundhog predicting weather. I have an app for that on my phone. But hey, if you need a bit of laughter and love while you live through February, then on with the show!

White Rock Players suggest that if you are needing some inspiration for a Valentine’s evening out, you need look no further than their newest presentation, A Comedy of Tenors, playing at Coast Capital Playhouse until Feb. 23.

Directed by Julianne Christie, Ken Ludwig’s sequel to Lend Me a Tenor is set in 1930s Paris. Ah yes, Paris. The city of love and romance. The characters are familiar – four tenors, two wives, three girlfriends and a harassed producer combine to bring chaos, bedroom hijinks and mistaken identities to the stage.

Fred Partridge again portrays producer Henry Saunders, a bit wiser and always in charge. Henry does his best to keep the singing sensation Max (played by Dann Wilhelm) focused on giving a stellar performance. This proves to be a challenge when the passionate opera star Tito Merelli (Jacques Lalonde) gets distracted by his ex-lover (Jackie Black) when she shows up is his hotel room. Don’t tell his wife Maria Merelli (Launi Bowie) or daughter Mimi (Adrian Shaffer) what is going on next door! Add in a handsome young American Tenor, Carlo Nucci (Tanner Nelson), a few superstar egos and you never know what could happen next. Reserve tickets at the box office (call 604-536-7535 or visit whiterockplayers.ca).

• READ MORE: Operatic farce unleashes mayhem in 1930s Paris.

Art lovers, here is something for you: Surrey Art Gallery and Surrey Art Gallery Association invite you to take a trip on its “Art Bus” for a curator-guided tour to contemporary art spaces of Chinatown in Vancouver. It’s on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is open to those aged 16 and over. Cost is only $39, and people I have talked to about previous tours really rave about the experience. Field trip! Bring a bag lunch, or explore cultural diversity by sampling the local restaurants or lunch counters.

This is the way to live and love art at the same time. You first meet at Surrey Art Gallery for an orientation over coffee. Then embark with the gallery’s curator, Jordan Strom, and interpretive programmer, Cecily Nicholson, to Vancouver’s Chinatown, the largest such district in the country, and a nationally recognized historic site.

First stop of the day will be the newly launched BC Artscape Sun Wah building. This community cultural hub provides affordable and secure rental space to cultural organizations and artists that share a commitment to engaging with the area. I love this concept – using art to engage the community. Next stop is a quick visit to the new SUM gallery, home to the city’s Queer Arts Festival. Then on to Centre A, a gallery for contemporary Asian art.

The last stop in the Sun Wah building is Canton-Sardine, an artist-run centre. Then lunch break. Round off the day with a tour at 221A Gallery, whichworks with artists and designers to research and develop social, cultural and ecological infrastructure. So get yourself on that Art Bus and expand your creative horizons. Take a friend along. Great Valentine’s Day gift. Call 604-501-5566, or visit surrey.ca.

• RELATED STORY: With ‘In the Realm of Perception,’ Surrey artist celebrates her first solo show at SAG.

Things to know and love about Surrey’s Art Gallery. Surrey has long been recognized as one of the arts capitals of Canada. It has been internationally recognized for award-winning programs and is the second largest public art museum in Metro Vancouver. It’s an amazing space, and the gallery staff are not just knowledgeable, but are passionate about sharing the world of contemporary art with you. They have often very patiently explained to me the concept of contemporary art. Sometimes I just don’t get it, or even like it. But, what the heck. It’s February and our mandate is to laugh a little and love a little. That’s life.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum got an early Valentine’s from the Arts Council of Surrey – a membership in the organization. Arts council president Carol Girardi and director James Crosty recently had a 40-minute meeting with the mayor to update him on the active arts community in Surrey. Among some of the things he was told, the arts community brings millions of dollars into the community. The ACS has 82 group members, 170 associates, 115 business members and so many individual members (hundreds) they can no longer be listed in the monthly ACS magazine, Spotlight on the Arts. Want to know more? Join the Arts Council of Surrey. It’s only $30 a year for individuals, and you get the monthly Spotlight included. Check out the details on the website, artscouncilofsurrey.ca. There’s a lot to love out there.

Melanie Minty writes twice monthly for the Now-Leader. She can be reached at melminty@telus.net.

CLICK HERE to read more columns by Melanie Minty.

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