Arts & Culture

Gateway Theatre presents “Hey Viola!”

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 10:30 PDT, Fri March 17, 2023

Last Updated: 3:42 PDT, Mon April 17, 2023

Gateway Theatre is delighted to present the critically-acclaimed musical Hey Viola! on the MainStage Theatre Apr. 13 to 22. A smashing tour-de-force performance by Canadian jazz and blues singer Krystle Dos Santos, Hey Viola! is a musical exploration of civil rights trailblazer, Viola Desmond. 

Vancouver songstress and actor Krystle Dos Santos, with the support of live musicians, brings the life of Viola Desmond to the stage using the dynamic and inspirational music that filled the home of this trailblazer of the civil rights movement. Hey Viola! takes the audience on an extraordinary journey through Viola’s life and the events that shaped her, from the 1917 Halifax explosion to the civil rights struggles of the 1950s. Featuring hot jazz, gospel, and traditional spirituals, this eye-opening new musical brings bold, new energy to the life and times of a remarkable woman. 

“You won’t want to miss her in this cabaret-style performance where she shares the inspiring true story of Viola Desmond. This musical format enriches the telling of Viola Desmond’s amazing and powerful story, which is ultimately an important Canadian story,” said Barbara Tomasic, Gateway Theatre’s Director of Artistic Programs. 

Who is Viola Desmond, other than the newest face of the Canadian ten-dollar bill? She is best known for her courage in refusing to leave the whites-only section of Nova Scotia’s Rosalind cinema in 1946, a decision that made history. What was there within this successful black Canadian businesswoman that gave her the courage and confidence to stand up to systemic racial injustices in Canada? Her story is told thorough music and song featuring brilliant hits of the era from Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, The Mills Brothers, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Richard M. Jones, and more—plus songs that influenced history including Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, A Change is Gonna Come, Sinnerman, and Mississippi Goddam. 

This eye-opening musical was created by Tracey Power, co-creator and director, and Krystle Dos Santos, an extraordinary actor, blues, jazz, and soul singer, and creator of “BLAK”, exploring Canada’s Black History. 

“I feel so honoured to be able to share Viola’s story, she was such an incredible, driven, intelligent, and strong woman, an inspiration on so many levels,” stated Dos Santos. “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 and imperfect culture, past and present, and is one of many examples of how we can always strive to be better.” 

Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at gatewaytheatre.com/hey-viola. Performances are from Apr. 13 to 22 with opening night on Apr. 14, 2023. This production is presented in English with traditional and simplified Chinese subtitles.

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