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Live Kicks: Hey Viola!

October 7, 2023 - 7:30pm

Viola Desmond, recently honoured as the newest face on our ten-dollar bill, is mostly known as the black woman who refused to leave the whites-only section of a Nova Scotia cinema in 1946 and ended up getting arrested. As it turned out, Ms. Desmond was a successful self-made black businesswoman and early feminist who had the confidence to protest a racist law, and her actions helped start the modern civil rights movement in Canada.

And nearly 80 years later, at a period when the social protest of Black Lives Matter and the Me Too movement continues to roil and flare, her powerful story has been transformed into a piece of cabaret musical theatre that is timely and moving. Written and directed by Tracey Power (Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, Glory) and performed by dynamic Vancouver singer and actor Krystle Dos Santos, Hey Viola! is both a useful history lesson and an in-depth character study.

It is also a marvelously effective musical revue that uses the songs that most inspired Viola to help tell her story. From “Mississippi Goddam” and “A Change is Gonna Come” to “This Train” and “I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free” the soundtrack is powerful and evocative – and comes very much alive thanks to the electrifying performance by Dos Santos, an award-winning soul and R&B singer who has been compared with icons such as Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley. Summer Kicks regulars will remember that Krystal and her band tore up our stage and got everyone up and dancing in summer of 2022


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