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Who’s in the News: 3 New Westminster artists to watch

Check out what Scotia Browner, Stephen O'Shea and Kerri Norris are up to now.

If you don’t know Scotia Browner’s name yet, you will.

The 17-year-old New Westminster Secondary School student has been making a name for herself in musical theatre. She’s appeared in productions with companies around Metro Vancouver — including Metro Theatre, Align Entertainment, Gateway Theatre and Theatre Under the Stars — and with the NWSS musical theatre program.

Now she’s representing British Columbia at the inaugural Canada West Performing Arts Festival in Saskatoon, running July 21 to 23.

She qualified by securing a runner-up spot in the Intermediate Musical Theatre category at the B.C. provincials, with repertoire including The Boy Next Door, from Meet Me in St. Louis; Carrie, from Carrie the Musical; and Meadowlark, from The Baker’s Wife.

Prior to that, she had earned her spot at the provincials with a first-place finish in musical theatre at the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival, where the festival chose her as a provincial representative.

Browner starts Grade 12 at NWSS this coming September.

O'Shea nominated for 2022 Fraser Valley Music Awards

If you follow the arts scene in New Westminster, you know the name Stephen O’Shea.

The former executive director of the Arts Council of New Westminster just wound up a seven-year stint at the helm of the organization. He’s also a musician, as it happens — and he’s a nominee in the 2022 Fraser Valley Music Awards.

CIVL-FM just announced the nominees for the seventh annual awards, and O’Shea is one of the nominees in the Experimental category.

In January 2020, O’Shea announced a new album entitled DECADE.

“Releasing one minute of music via Bandcamp on the last day of each month for the next 10 years, the album will culminate in a 120-minute continuous composition,” explains a write-up on the awards website. “Now in its second year, DECADE unfolds and twists into something much more interesting than its initial departure point.”

O’Shea also plays bass with The Sylvia Platters, a New West-Abbotsford-Vancouver-based group that’s nominated in the Rock category.

"We are so honoured to be nominated for an FVMA this year alongside so many talented artists and friends," said Nick Ubels, guitarist and vocalist with The Sylvia Platters. "We are very grateful to be recognized for our new release, Youth Without Virtue. CIVL Radio is a vital and steadfast support for musicians all across the Fraser Valley. We’re looking forward to the awards on July 21st!”

All told, 36 nominees are up in 11 juried awards categories. Fans can also vote for their favourites in the Dakota Leslie Memorial Fan Vote.

Norris takes helm at Royal Canadian Theatre Company

A New Westminster resident is stepping in to the artistic director’s role with the Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

Kerri Norris is taking on the position following the retirement of Ellie King, the founder and managing artistic director of the company — which has its roots in the former Burr Theatre right here in New West.

King and her husband Geoff King founded RCTC in 2006 and started entertaining audiences with an annual British pantomime before moving on to build a regular three-show season, which takes its productions around the Lower Mainland from its home base in Surrey.

Norris comes to her new role with a master’s degree in acting from CalArts in L.A. She has worked as an actor, director, designer and educator with companies around the Lower Mainland. She’ll also be familiar to local audiences as one of the driving forces behind the Shadows and Dreams Theatre Co., which brings its family-friendly Shakespeare productions to Queen’s Park every summer (including Cymbeline this year — stay tuned for more on that front).

Crystal Weltzin will be taking over the role of production manager, after mentoring with King over the 2022/23 season to be able to help with production management.

Know someone making the news on the arts and entertainment front? Email Julie.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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