Teen singers Charles Hartnell and Gracie Hooper are among the talent performing in Indie Entertainment’s Ultimate Variety Show at the Port Theatre on Dec. 4. (Photos courtesy Sean Mica/Makena Sutton)

Indie Entertainment presenting Ultimate Variety Show in Nanaimo

Port Theatre event Dec. 4 will feature established and emerging local singers

Nanaimo musician Jona Kristinsson is bringing her Indie Entertainment variety show to the Port Theatre for the first time and she’s lined up a roster of veterans and rookies.

The Indie Entertainment Ultimate Variety Show comes to the Port Theatre on Dec. 4. The event, hosted by Dean Chadwick of Schmooze Productions, includes Kristinsson’s Etta James tribute, John Gorash’s Frank Sinatra tribute and the members of Kristinsson’s band the Femme Fatales are bringing a Mount Rushmore of country chanteuses to life with their First Ladies of Country show.

But Kristinsson’s also giving stage time to some of her West Coast Vocal Academy proteges.

“They are students that have outgrown my expectations. They’re ready for it and it’s one of their first major gigs…” she said. “I decided when I put on this show to bring some of the new artists that are coming in to showcase them and give them that experience.”

One of those students making their Port Theatre debut is 17-year-old country singer Gracie Hooper. She said she’s been singing all her life and is thinking of making a career out of it. She’s been studying with Kristinsson since last year.

“My whole life I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve always known I wanted to do something with it, just seeing singers and how much fun they have,” she said.

Hooper has performed at local venues, the Vancouver Island Exhibition and Duncan’s Special Woodstock festival and last year she won the Who’s Got Talent? competition at Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre. She said playing the Port Theatre is “a big deal” and she’s honoured Kristinsson invited her.

“I am going to be nervous, but I’m just thinking, just taking all the tips that Jona’s given me and just calming myself down and just going out there and doing my thing and having fun,” she said. “Just singing like nobody’s watching.”

Also on the bill is Charles Hartnell, 17. He’s been involved in musical theatre for nine years and competed as a classical vocalist at the Mid Island Performing Arts Festival, earning his way to provincials on a few occasions. His saxophone-playing stepfather, Pierre Komen, got him into jazz singing and he’s been working with Kristinsson for the last year and a half.

He said the two styles of singing are very different. He said with classical singing you have to “respect the oldness of it.”

“With jazz you can be a lot more free,” Hartnell said. “You can do your own interpretation of it, so it’s a little more daunting because you have to be yourself. Whereas with classical voice you’re in the character, same with musical theatre.”

While he’s performed on the Port Theatre stage in the past, this will be his first time up there as a jazz singer. It will also be his first time on stage with Komen, who is part of the backing band for the evening.

With all the talent on the bill, Hartnell said he’s proud to be a part of the Ultimate Variety Show.

“I’m super honoured, obviously,” he said. “I hope not to let Jona down and that it’s a great experience. Hopefully it’s the crown jewel of my Grade 12 year.”

WHAT’S ON … Indie Entertainment presents The Ultimate Variety Show at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. All seats $37.50, available at the box office.


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