Krystle Dos Santos on the mic and Steven Charles on bass in the musical cabaret “Hey Viola!” (submitted photo)

New musical brings Viola Desmond’s civil-rights story to life with songs of the era

‘Her story is such an important message to share,’ says show star/co-creator Krystle Dos Santos

Krystle Dos Santos stars in Hey Viola!, a new musical she co-created about Canadian civil rights trailblazer Viola Desmond, for a run of shows at New Westminster’s Anvil Centre this month.

The show explores facets of Desmond’s life through stories and song in a jazz-style cabaret, and interactive conversation with the audience.

Desmond, now pictured on Canada’s $10 note, is best known for her history-making courage in refusing to leave the whites-only section of Nova Scotia’s Roseland Cinema in 1946, and also for a line of beauty products and salons she controlled.

Edmonton-raised actor/singer Dos Santos co-wrote Hey Viola! with director Tracey Power, the Comox Valley-raised playwright whose credits include Glory, Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen and the musical Miss Shakespeare.

Dos Santos’ latest album of songs was nominated for R&B Recording of the Year at the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards.

“I feel so honoured to be able to share Viola’s story, (who) was such an incredible, driven, intelligent and strong woman, an inspiration on so many levels,” Dos Santos says.

“Her story is such an important message to share, and is still relevant in today’s world. As Canadians, we have to recognize that this is not a unique story in our history, but one that reflects an imperfect culture, past and present, and is one of many examples of how we can always strive to be better.”

(Story continues below video)

Hey Viola!, staged by Musical TheatreWorks in association with Western Canada Theatre, puts Dos Santos in the spotlight backed by fellow musicians Chris Davis, Steven Charles and Mary Ancheta. Several hits of the era are performed, including “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “A Change is Gonna Come,” “Sinnerman” and “Mississippi Goddam.”

The 80-minute show will play the reopened Anvil Centre from Oct. 15-25, with COVID-19 precautions in place. Visit anvilcentre.com for more details and tickets ($50 each), or call 604-521-5050.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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