Blackstones and Bathtubs at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo July 2-8 2017. A preview.

Blackstones and Bathtubs at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo July 2-8 2017. A preview.

Nanaimo’s culture and heritage are the focus of a new musical as local producer Katy Bowen-Roberts (known on lower Vancouver Island for the annual Yellow Point Christmas Spectacular—originally in Yellow Point and due to its popularity, now staged in Courtenay, Nanaimo and Victoria) presents Blackstones and Bathtubs in Nanaimo at the Port Theatre July 2nd-8th.

Nanaimo’s Canada 150 team put out a call for a musical as a legacy project.  Bowen-Roberts and her team were chosen to bring Nanaimo’s history to life.  Working with collaborators Jessica Lowry (writer and director) and James Mark (composer and music director) and a production team comprised of Nicola Jackson (choreographer), Robinson Wilson (lighting designer), Paul Tedescini (sound design) and Shelby Matthews (stage manager), they have crafted a show that connects the present to the past, and includes a cast of four professional actors, Snyneymuxw elder Gary Manson, five professional musicians and seven pre-professional youth dancers.

Four present-day cruise ship tourists (Amy King, Alexander Nicoll, Kirsten Van Ritzen, Sean Patrick Sonier) are caught up as a supernatural storm transports them into a dream—long before Canada’s colonial past.  Snuneymuxw elder Gary Mason links past to present—Hul’q’umi’num has been pre-recorded, including children’s voices.  “It’s been an interesting part of the process to learn more about the culture pre-1867” says Bowen Roberts.  A musical theme composed by Mark also provides a thread.

Nanaimo’s red light district is reflected in a re-worked House of the Rising Sun; there are two different Nanaimo songs—by local composers Bob Bosson (The Nanaimo Song) and Brian Hazelbower (a bluesy Harbour City Beat). Blackstones and Bathtubs has both comedic and dramatic sequences, reflecting moments in history that people might not connect with Nanaimo.  Local jazz legend Diana Krall’s music is also featured.

A souvenir program that includes a map with highlights from the show encourages audiences to get out and explore the community.

“We’ve picked musical number that create good scenes and arranged them to fit with the story line” notes Bowen-Roberts.

In a short one hour and ten minutes, Blackstones and Bathtubs promises to reveal stories from a “town you never knew” as they welcome you aboard The Dream of Nanaimo.

Lost in a fog of Nanaimo bars, four tourists miss their cruise ship departure as supernatural storm transports them into a dream. Join this motley crew as they journey into Nanaimo’s explosive history and culture guided by the wisdom and humour of The Voice played by Snuneymuxw elder Gary Manson. From the world’s largest man made explosion of the time to a visitation from the infamous mystic/cult leader Brother XII, Blackstones & Bathtubs is quirky, fast moving, fiery musical dream that will have you feeling into 150 years of Nanaimo and the thousands of years before. Musical numbers include Sing, Sing, Sing swing style on Newcastle Island, House of the Rising Sun in Nanaimo’s once Red Light District, Wipe Out with the Bathtub races and Canadian classics by Rita MacNeil, Leonard Cohen and Nanaimo’s own Diana Krall. Don’t miss the boat, get your tickets for Blackstones & Bathtubs and we’ll welcome aboard The Dream of Nanaimo!

Blackstones and Bathtubs
July 2nd – July 8th, 2017
Port Theatre, Nanaimo
Tickets $26-33 available through the Port Theatre Box Office 250.754.8550 or online

Created by:

Jessica Lowry—Writer and Director
Katy Bowen-Roberts–Producer
James Mark—Composer and Music Director


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