Langley’s Margaret Onedo was crowned Miss Fraser Valley and won the Miss Congeniality award during the Miss BC Pageant held at Fort Langley’s Chief Sepass Theatre July 3. Onedo

Briefs: Langley Ukulele Ensemble currently strumming in Hawaii

Waterworks, water, rain and icebergs – this week's community and arts briefs have a common theme.

The Legendary Water Fight is on.

The annual water fight of the public (mostly kids) versus the lifeguards and Langley City Fire Rescue takes place 1 to 4 p.m. on July 16 at the Al Anderson Memorial Pool, 4949 207th St.

Last year’s water fight had to be called off due to drought conditions in the Lower Mainland, but a cooler and damper summer so far has meant the popular event can take place.

People can bring pool toys and water guns.

Across the water

Every night through Saturday, members of the Langley Ukulele Ensemble (LUE) are performing at the Sheraton Waikiki hotel, and by day they’re playing on the beaches or sightseeing.

For the 21st time in the music group’s 35-year history, 20 members of the ensemble are in Hawaii this week, performing for the locals – but still managing to squeeze in a little sightseeing.

This trip has become quite the tradition, explained founder and now retired music director Peter Luongo, who joined his son Paul (the current music director) and the students in the tropic resort.

When LUE first started the annual trek to Hawaii, the ensemble would perform in a few local schools.

Since then, the Canadian group has grown incredibly popular and has developed a lot of “invaluable” relationships with people around the island – including with the Sheraton, Rotary Clubs, and media, explained the senior member of the Luongo family.

Now, the kids perform at a number of venues, including the hotel, and are even showcased on a few local television station during their visits.

What’s really exciting… it’s wonderful to stand back and watch, and see these kids – six of them are new on the trip this year – serving as incredibly polite and positive publicists for Langley and great ambassadors for Canada,” Peter told the Langley Advance.

The Hawaiians are so appreciative of these Canadian music students, who have taken such a keen interest in a musical instrument that means so much to their culture and to so many people on the islands, he said.

“The people here are so welcoming, so gracious… this has become a home away from home for us,” Peter added, while joining the ensemble for a trip to Pearl Harbour Tuesday afternoon.

The team left for Hawaii last Thursday, and return home next Tuesday, July 19.

The ensemble is currently made up of four after-school groups, with 90 students ranging from age 13 to 19.

While Waikiki has become a regular destination for a segment of those music students, the ensemble has travelled throughout Canada and the U.S., and even to Japan in past.

Last year, in addition to the stop in Hawaii, Paul said they travelled to Reno and Ontario.

PHOTO: Between booked performances, it’s also not uncommon for the ensemble members to break into song. After swimming with the dolphins the other day, an impromptu concert broke out. (Submitted)

Rain, rain, go away

Numbers were down – likely due to the looming threat of raindrops on Saturday – but those who came to Erikson’s Daylily Gardens’ open house had a great time last weekend.

This, according to garden owner Pam Erikson, who said the roughly 700 attendees “had a great time.”

The 15th annual open house held last Saturday and Sunday gave visitors an opportunity to peruse thousands of plants, including daylilies, lilies, hostas, specimen trees, and unique perennials at the garden.

It also has a specific purpose: raising money for worthy charities.

It’s estimated that $1,500 was raised, $732 of which was at the gate and will go to BC Children’s Hospital.

The balance from the draw table, $500, goes to VOKRA (Vancouver Orphaned Kitten Rescue Association who Erikson notes “do a lot of work in Langley”).

“The balance we will add to it, and sponsor two families again through the Langley Christmas Bureau this year,” Erikson added.

“We are all exhausted but thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, and are so incredibly lucky to have such amazing volunteers, both from the Aldergrove Daylily Society and the Langley Garden Club,” Erikson said. “In addition, we are so very grateful to have such generous local businesses who donate items to our club draw table – each year they are so giving and we are very appreciative.”

Erikson said organizers are already in the planning stages for next year.

The open house started after Erikson retired from being the chairperson of the VanDusen Flower and Garden Show in Vancouver.

“When that ended, I missed talking plants with the general public and also wanted to raise the education level of water-wise gardening, so we decided to do our own ‘mini garden show,’” Erikson explained.  “Each year we have had amazing response with visitors from not just local areas, but from Edmonton, the Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Washington state and more.”

(Story continues after photos)

PHOTO: Rainfall Saturday enhanced the beauty of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens, which hosted an open house last weekend. (Troy Landreville/Langley Advance)

Iceberg,

dead ahead

Ultimately, the ship may still have sunk, but Surrey Little Theatre’s (SLT’s) thespians emerged triumphant from the “wreckage” of their replica Titanic this weekend – making good their escape with a load of “serious” bling.

For the first time on record, actors and stage crew from SLT (as usual – including several from Langley) – won a fistful of awards for The Last Lifeboat at the provincial theatre competitions in Chilliwack on Saturday.

“We have finally won the best production,” gushed an overjoyed Langley City actor and SLT president Mike Busswood.

“It only took 30 of us six months and 23 shows and thousands and thousands of volunteer hours to get there,” said Busswood.

He also served as production manager and a few different characters in this show by the Clayton Height’s theatre group.

“I’m extremely proud of our club and all the members that made this effort to gain this honour,” he told the Langley Advance.

SLT earned the top prize of best production, as well as another for best ensemble. They can also brag about a handful of other accolades: Dale Kelly won best director and best set design; Pat McClean won best costumes; Miles Lavkulich won best lighting design; stage manager Sara Lownes won best newcomer/youth, and Rebecca Strom earned honourable mention for best supporting actress.

And among the awards given out, Busswood also received an honourable mention in the best supporting actor category.

The 59-year-old Langley City retiree not only tackled the job of production manager for The Last Lifeboat, but also took on the roles of multiple characters on stage, including Thomas, Captain Smith, Lord Mersley, and J.P. Morgan.

It would be all his roles that earned him the supporting actor accolades, but adjudicator Michael Armstrong did specifically single out his work on stage as Morgan.

In addition to Busswood’s participation, there were two other Langleyites who took part in this production – doctor-by-day, actor-by-night Jay Martens and Fort Langley’s Owen Carlson (one of four children in the play).

Langley resident Dave Williams, from the Langley Players Drama Club, served as co-chair of the Mainstage organizing committee, and commented on the how this year’s festival created an “amazing opportunity for theatregoers to view performances” from communities all over B.C.

Theatre BC annually hosts the community theatre competition called Mainstage festival. This year’s competition was held in Chilliwack, and ran July 2 to 9, with Surrey Little Theatre performing its winning showing of The Last Lifeboat on Monday, July 4.

Awards were given out during a special celebration on Saturday, July 9.

Lifeboat challenge

SLT chose the Luke Yankee play last fall as their competition entry.

The play selection committee was drawn to the fact that this production reveals the untold story of J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of the White Star Line at the time of the sinking of the Titanic.

Ismay’s decision to save himself rather than go down with the ship made him the scapegoat for one of the greatest disasters of all time.

This play addresses the issues of corporate greed, commercial success versus human safety, survivor’s guilt, and how making the choice not to follow one’s heart can destroy a life, even if it is “saved,” Busswood said.

Armstrong, a theatre instructor from Vancouver Island, applauded the SLT’s efforts.

“My job as an adjudicator is to look at how well the various clubs rose to the challenges presented by the scripts they choose to produce. The Last Lifeboat is a sprawling, difficult, and largely untested script up against scripts that have won numerous awards including several Tony Awards and one Pulitzer Prize,” he said.

Armstrong explained how each of the contending drama clubs brought their shows from much smaller theatres and each being given a chance to expand and perform their play in the much larger 575-seat Chilliwack Cultural Centre during Mainstage.

The large venue offered advantages and difficulties alike for the clubs. But Armstrong was impressed with SLT’s showing.

“Surrey Little Theatre rose splendidly to that occasion thanks to teamwork, enthusiasm, and a strong artistic vision from director Dale Kelly. Technically, the production I saw stands on a par with some of the best professional theatre I’ve seen in many years.

“Besides the seamless ensemble work, there were also a number of strong individual performances from experienced actors able to lift their voices out into the large house. The 65 period costumes were spectacular: a feat far outside the budget of all but a handful of the top professional companies in the country.”

PHOTO: Surrey’s Eric Fortin and Kait Busswood, along with Vancouver’s Julia Grace, Maple Ridge’s Ben Odberg, and Langley’s Jay Martens helped Surrey Little Theatre win provincially for its rendition of The Last Lifeboat. (Tom Taylor/Special to the Langley Advance)

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