Historic West End hotel gets its time in the spotlight with two new one-act musical plays

Two new one-act musical plays look at that most historic of Vancouver hotels, the Sylvia.

In the heart of the West End’s English Bay neighbourhood, the Sylvia was built in 1912. In 1954, it opened Vancouver’s first cocktail bar, the Tilting Room; until 1958, it was the tallest building in the West End. The Sylvia Hotel cat, Mr. Got To Go, inspired three popular children’s books.

Two Views from the Sylvia is the title for the evening of the two musical one-acts. They run Nov. 8-12 at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island (and not, unfortunately, at the Sylvia itself. Then again, parking would be a nightmare).

Two Views begins with Sylvia’s Hotel. In this play, young Sylvia Goldstein and beloved English Bay lifeguard Joe Fortes develop a bond that leads to the origin of the famed hotel. We also learn more about the Goldstein family, who built the Sylvia.

The second play, The Hotel Sylvia, features a cast of characters whose lives and loves became interwoven with the story of The Sylvia over her 100-year history.

Directed by Christopher King, the production stars veteran actor Tom Pickett as Joe Fortes/John and Advah Soudack as Sylvia. Featured performers are Rana LaViolette as Franny and Adam Abrams as Abraham Goldstein.

Playwright Deborah Vogt, in collaboration with lyricist Britt MacLeod and composers Britt MacLeod and Kerry O’Donovan, wrote Sylvia’s Hotel. The team’s recent show, Carry-On, The Musical, was selected Pick of the Fringe in 2016. Writer Cathy Moss and playwright Kelsey Blair collaborated on the script for The Hotel Sylvia.

Kol Halev Performance Society is presenting the two plays. Kol Halev is a nonprofit performance society dedicated to portraying stories rooted in Jewish experience through original and innovative script, song, dance and music.

Kol Halev has launched a contest that asks people to share “their best story of an interesting, entertaining or unusual experience at the Sylvia Hotel,” according to the media release. The entry chosen as the best will win a pair of tickets to the show. Visit kolhalev.ca/contest for full details.

The Waterfront Theatre is located at 1412 Cartwright St on Granville Island. Tickets start at $28 and are available at theatrewire.com.

Read more about the Sylvia Hotel here.

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