Jessica Lowry, left, Katy Bowen-Roberts and James Mark created Blackstones and Bathtubs, a musical in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. File Photo

Blackstones and Bathtubs musical delves into Nanaimo’s past

Musical revue coming to the Port Theatre from July 2-8

Nanaimo’s past comes alive during the musical Blackstones and Bathtubs: A Musical Revue of the Town You Never Knew.

The musical follows four tourists who miss their cruise ship departure and then become lost in a fog. They enter a dream-like realm where they traverse through chapters of Nanaimo’s history, said Jessica Lowry, one of the creators.

The musical was commissioned by the Canada 150 Nanaimo organizing committee and was created by Lowry, Katy Bowen-Roberts and James Mark.

“The committee invited us to do a piece that was about 60 minutes long and inspired by Nanaimo’s culture,” said Lowry. “Of course you can’t contain this vast history in this short span, but we focused on scenes around Nanaimo’s explosive history, so obviously coal mining is in there. We have a scene that pays homage to the No. 1 mine explosion, which was the largest man-made explosion of its time.”

The story of the mine explosion led the creators to explore fire origin stories of the Snuneymuxw culture and other Coast Salish oral traditions.

Bowen-Roberts said the creators of the musical wanted to celebrate 150 years of Canadian history, but also thousands of years of indigenous history.

Mark composed a “musical thread” along with Snuneymuxw elder Gary Manson that guides the tourists through the dream. Along with Manson, a group of Snuneymuxw children will be sharing elements of the story through the Hul’q’umin’um language.

“We took that larger explosive scene and I started researching, and was humbled to listen to stories around the origin of fire myth within the Coast Salish tradition, so those are weaved in and Gary is speaking in English and also in Hul’q’umin’um’ … that aspect really enlivens the dream journey,” said Lowry.

The multidisciplinary piece includes a five-piece band, directed by Mark, an ensemble of seven pre-professional dancers, a musical soundscape created by Paul Tedeschini and historic images and video by Raymond Knight.

“We are really wanting to invoke a feeling of intrigue around certain moments in Nanaimo’s past to get people stepping out and looking into Nanaimo on their own – exploring,” said Lowry.

Mark created a number of new song arrangements by singer-songwriters Bob Bossin and Brian Hazelbower, Rita McNeil’s Working Man, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Diana Krall’s Departure Bay. Other songs include House of the Rising Sun, Wipe Out and Sing Sing Sing.

Blackstones and Bathtubs shows July 2 and July 6-8 at the Port Theatre. Opening gala is July 2 at 7 p.m. and includes a reception. Performances July 6-8 are at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets for opening gala are $45. Tickets for the July 6-8 performance are $28-35 or $18 for students, available by calling 250-754-8550 or by visiting

For more information about Blackstones and Bathtubs, please visit

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo says it’s ‘back on track’ with waste collection

Mechanical issues, ‘additional pressures’ caused delays

House fire in Nanaimo earlier this month being investigated as suspicious

Nanaimo Fire Rescue hands over Palomino Place house fire investigation to RCMP

Young jiu-jitsu athletes win medals on the mat

Nanaimo’s Island Top Team athletes fare well at Richmond tournament

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Snowbirds’ militarism shouldn’t be celebrated

The public has accepted this military demonstration team as benign entertainment, says letter writer

Hundreds of Kin club members meeting in Nanaimo this week

Service club holding national convention Aug. 21-24

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier has said climate change is not an emergency nor caused by human

Unseasonable snow forces campers out of northeastern B.C. provincial park

Storm brought as much as 35 centimetres of snow to the Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake Park-Stone Mountain Park

Most Read