Blog / The Theatre

Veda Hille, ONEGIN, and The Yukon: A Musical Homecoming

Veda Hille, ONEGIN, and The Yukon: A Musical Homecoming

When Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone’s new musical, Onegin (pronounced O-Nyay-Gun) opens at the Yukon Arts Centre on February 1st, it will be the culmination of a long-simmering journey involving Veda, Whitehorse, the Yukon Arts Centre, and musical theatre.

I became aware of Veda’s remarkable musical gifts twenty-five years ago, when she first appeared, stunningly, on the mainstage of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. The reason this was so stunning was because Veda was from Vancouver. Nobody from Vancouver ever got to play on the mainstage at the freaking Vancouver Folk Music Festival! No Vancouver musician since Stephen Fearing had booked that gig (and he had to go live in Ireland for a while to develop enough cred). Veda had merely gone to art school: a graduate of University Hill Secondary and the renowned Emily Carr College (now University) of Art and Design. Veda wrote quirky and enrapturing songs about where she lived and the people she knew. And love. She always wrote songs about love.

"Veda wrote quirky and enrapturing songs about where she lived and the people she knew. And love. She always wrote songs about love."

Our paths crossed again when Veda came to the Frostbite Music Festival with her band in 1994 and played the Yukon Arts Centre mainstage (as well as leading a legendary post-festival jam in the back room). Veda continued to return to the Yukon to play Dawson City Music Festival and other gigs.

In 2000, Veda was invited to be a part of the Yukon Journey Project- an amazing Yukon-wide camping trip undertaken by a number of Canadian and Yukon performing artists including John Mann, Christopher House, Brian Fidler and Kim Barlow. Out of that adventure, Veda produced her gorgeous album, Field Study, and was approached by then Yukon Art Centre CEO, Chris Dray, to undertake a residency at YAC on any subject. Veda said that she wished to pursue and develop her musical theatre creation skills.

So, Veda took up residence in the studio at YAC and, working from an existing play by Sean Dixon called The Death of the Finance Minister’s Mother (about Paul Martin,) she penned a new one-act musical (her first!) which was then workshopped and shown by a small band of Yukon theatre artists.

In 2003, Whitehorse’s local community theatre, the Guild Hall, decided to mount the then very timely anti-war musical Hair at the Arts Centre; Veda came on board as Musical Director working with a crack band and spending a good deal of the winter up in Whitehorse. In the process of producing this incredibly successful piece of musical theatre, I think that Veda, who had begun the journey somewhat ambivalently, came to love the art form and the music by the great, but often unsung, Canadian composer Galt McDermott. She even recorded one of the songs from Hair on her next album.

Well, it took some time, but by 2009, Veda had, along with CBC broadcasting icon Bill Richardson, created the songs for a new piece called Do You Want What I Have Got: A Craigslist Cantata. These songs, with support from the Push International Performance festival, the Arts Club Theatre, and the Musical Theatre Company were turned into a hit Canadian musical theatre piece that played across the country, arriving in Whitehorse in 2013. Out of that production, came the collaboration that would create Onegin: Veda and Craigslist director, Amiel Gladstone.

Photo: David Cooper. Onegin creators, Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille

Looking for a subject for a collaboration, Amiel suggested they look for a work to adapt and he then came up with the idea of the Russian tale, Onegin (he had previously worked on theopera version). Veda was less sure, but when she arrived in Berlin and was about to get started on the collaboration, she encountered a restaurant named Onegin, and felt this was a sign from the universe. And so, she embarked on the project.

The tales of the initial production of Onegin at the Arts Club Theatre Company are now legendary. People from all walks of life were blown away. Social media was deluged with posts about how deeply moved people were, how much they were transported and engaged by the show, and how much they wanted -needed- to see it again. The combination of cast, story, design, music, and emotion swept audiences away and continues to do so to this day. 

When Onegin finally arrives in Whitehorse from it's travels to Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton, audiences can expect a bona fide theatrical hit; one that was, at least partially, grown in the Yukon.

By Eric Epstein
Director of Performing Arts, Yukon Arts Centre



Nakai Theatre and the Yukon Arts Centre Present  An Arts Club Theatre Company Production


February 1-3 at the Yukon Arts Centre | Tickets Available Now

Book, music, and lyrics by Amiel Gladstone and Veda Hille. Based on the poem by Pushkin and the opera by Tchaikovsky


5 Reasons to See I, Claudia

5 Reasons to See I, Claudia

Get your tickets here!

Performance in HD 2017

Performance in HD 2017

La Traviata- March 11 @ 10am

Violetta Valéry knows that she will die soon, exhausted by her restless life as a courtesan. At a party she is introduced to Alfredo Germont, who has been fascinated by her for a long time. Violetta choses a life with Alfredo and they enjoy their love in the country, far from society.

Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, pays Violetta a visit. He demands that she separate from his son, as their relationship threatens his daughter’s impending marriage. Violetta’s resistance dwindles and she finally agrees to leave Alfredo forever. Only after her death shall he learn the truth about why she returned to her old life. But all the memories of home and a happy family can’t prevent the furious and jealous Alfredo from seeking revenge for Violetta’s apparent betrayal.

Violetta is dying. Her last remaining friend, Doctor Grenvil, knows that she has only a few more hours to live. Full of remorse, Germont has told his son about Violetta’s sacrifice. Alfredo wants to rejoin her as soon as possible. Violetta is afraid that he might be too late. But Alfredo does arrive and the reunion fills her with a final euphoria. Her energy and exuberant joy of life return. All sorrow and suffering seem to have left her—a final illusion, before death claims her.

Run time: 2 hrs 33 minutes

Ticket price: $22.00

Buy your tickets here

Sleeping Beauty- March 25 @ 2pm

Embrace the exquisite enchantment of the world's favourite fairy tale! One of the finest ballets in the classical repertoire is set to Tschaikovsky’s timeless score. Featuring technical brilliance and bravura dancing by outstanding performers, stunning sets, and lush costumes, this magical masterpiece delivers all the essential ingredients: romance, fate, good vs evil, and of course true love!

Run time: 2 hrs 45 minutes

Tickets: $22.00 / Youth $12.00 / Family pack $60.00

Buy your tickets here

More From YAC!

More From YAC!

We’re excited to announce the following additions to the YAC 2017 season:

Claire Ness: On The Trail CD Release Concert (March 4)

Old-time country meets jazz cabaret.

Claire Ness releases her best work yet: "On the Trail", produced by the formidable Bob Hamilton at Old Crow Recording. Bob will be joining Claire on stage for the concert, as well as Grant Simpson, Paul Bergman, Lonnie Powell and Olivier de Colombel.

Inspired by songs such as "Don't Fence Me In" by Cole Porter, "Mack the Knife" by Kurt Weill, and "Chauffeur" by Memphis Minnie, Claire is excited to release this collection of original tunes which cover themes of love, death, travel, revenge and simpler times.

Quantum Tangle (March 10)

Fusing of old-world sounds and new-world flair, Greyson Gritt and Tiffany Ayalik are embracing their blended backgrounds. Combining their talents of throat singing, haunting melodies and traditional legends, Gritt and Ayalik are excited to present a circumpolar mix of flavours from across Canada and Greenland. As Ayalik charismatically embodies her stories, Gritt infuses it with a soulful blues to create an experience that consumes the senses.

Colin James (March 11)

From the prairies of Saskatchewan to the stages of the world, sharing his talent with some of the greatest and most influential musicians of all time, Colin James has quietly and steadily established himself as one of Canada's greatest musicians.

For his 18th album, Blue Highways, Colin pays tribute to some of his long time blues idols including Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Jr. Wells & Buddy Guy, Peter Green, Robert Johnson and William Bell to name a few.  In the spring of 2015 after wrapping up his Hearts on Fire Tour, Colin was loving playing with his band and really happy with the sound they had created on stage.  What better time to make a record!  Especially the record Colin had been itching to make for years – a collection of some of his favourite blues tracks.  In less than a week Colin was recording in The Warehouse Studios in Vancouver and in just two days, Blue Highways was born.

The Comic Strippers (April 7-8)

A fictitious male stripper troupe (played by a cast of some of Canada’s best improvisational comedians) perform a sexylarious improv comedy show. These guys try to be sexy… it just comes out funny. Constantly grooving and gyrating in between scenes they banter with the crowd and perform their hilarious twist on improv sketches. They sing, they “dance”. These guys are oiled up and ready to make you laugh at them.

Women often say the most attractive thing about a man is his sense of humour - so ladies, these stripped down comedians are sure to make your head explode. As for all you men out there - don't worry, this is definitely a parody of male strippers. Some of the performers have what's called 'Comedy Bodies' - they will make you look good by comparison.
Semi undressed and completely unscripted, The Comic Strippers take off their shirts and take on your suggestions to create a whole new genre of comedy.
A show for all genders...19+

Yukon Arts Centre’s Chief Executive Officer, Al Cushing, Retiring March 31, 2017

Yukon Arts Centre’s Chief Executive Officer, Al Cushing, Retiring March 31, 2017

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Yukon Arts Centre, Chair, Deb Bartlette, would like to thank Al Cushing for more than nine successful years as Yukon Arts Centre’s CEO and wishes him well in retirement. “Al has provided the Yukon Arts Centre Board, staff and volunteers with dedicated and visionary service and we have all grown under his leadership. He helped us to think of the Yukon Arts Centre not just as a building, but a resource in service to the whole of Yukon’s vibrant cultural community. His capacity to bring out the best in people ensured good working relationships with all stakeholders and we are grateful for his time here.”
Mr. Cushing will be retiring as of March 31st, 2017.
Under Mr. Cushing’s flexible and facilitative leadership, the Yukon Arts Centre, Board and staff, wrote and adopted visionary “Ends Statements”, which guide the ongoing work of the Yukon Arts Centre. As one of the best known performing arts facilitators in North America, Jerry Yoshitomi, stated: “the Yukon Arts Centre is one of the most innovative and effective arts centres in North America.” The Yukon Arts Centre has become known as a mecca for performing and visual arts in this country, and as one of the most significant performing spaces in Canada. 
Mr. Cushing was also instrumental in expanding the Yukon Arts Centre’s performing/exhibition spaces to include the Old Fire Hall and the Wharf in downtown Whitehorse, and the Art House in Carcross. Strong partnerships with Yukon First Nations, the Whitehorse’s business community and Yukon Government, allowed the Centre to expand operations and add more versatile options for performance and exhibition space.
Mr. Cushing came to Yukon after more than thirty-five years working in virtually all areas of Canadian theatre including: scene design, stage management, sound & lighting & stage technician (Ottawa and Vancouver), technical director (National Arts Centre), production manager (Manitoba Theatre Centre), company manager (JV Theatre Productions Calgary), and just prior to moving north, VP Operations at the Epcor Centre, Calgary, Alberta.
In addition to his extensive theatre experience, his deep knowledge of the visual arts has ensured the Yukon Arts Centre Gallery continues to be acknowledged as one of the leading galleries in Canada. National level exhibitions, artists’ support and community engagement projects continue to lead the country in innovative programming.
Cushing believed in the importance of national partnerships and he encouraged his staff to serve on many national associations. Cushing himself served on the boards of the Canadian Institute of Theatre Technology (CITT), Magnetic North Theatre Festival and the Cultural Human Resource Council. He was instrumental in supporting several national conferences and gatherings in Yukon including Break Out West, Canadian Museums Association and most recently the Magnetic North Theatre Festival and the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective
Deb Bartlette, speaking on behalf of the board stated: “The Yukon Arts Centre is a richer organization as a result of his time here. His commitment to his staff, to the Yukon’s cultural community, and his mindfulness of supporting art and artists, has always been topmost in his leadership style. Many of the ambitious goals he set for the organization were surpassed during his tenure. In particular, Al’s belief that the North has many things to teach Canadians has always been present in his work and is a legacy that will continue to shape Yukon Arts Centre into the future.”
A retirement party will be planned with details forthcoming closer to the time of Al’s departure. Details forthcoming.
The Yukon Arts Centre’s Board of Directors has formed a search committee to identify the next CEO.  They will be announcing details shortly.
For further information please contact YAC Board Chair, Deb Bartlette, 668-8715