Sunday January 30, 2011


Kick The Tires And Light The Fires

Billy Bishop wings it into the Cultch



ollow Canadian World War 1 flying ace, Billy Bishop, on his feats in the trenches and up to the skies, where he is credited for 72 victories in the touching musical theatre, Billy Bishop Goes to War.

On Valentine’s Day at 8:00pm, all lovers, veterans, families, and fans of live theatre are invited to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre for a world-renowned show starring Ryan Biel as a riveting Billy Bishop, and Chilliwack, you can take a little credit for his skills!

Ryan Beil is probably best known as Ryan-the-bumbling-trainee in the ubiquitous A&W ads, which were filmed at Chilliwack’s own A&W. But the A&W gig is only part of it. Beil won a Jessie Richardson Award (BC’s top theatre prize) for Best Actor for the role he plays in Billy Bishop. He has also performed in Comedy of Errors (Bard on the Beach), American Buffalo (Main Street Theatre Co), and is a member of the Sunday Service, a highly entertaining improv troupe who perform every Sunday in Vancouver.

A True Hero

Beil is an absolute star, and in Billy Bishop Goes to War his award-winning performance brings audience members to their feet time and time again.

With beloved songs and delicious wit, Billy Bishop is sure to make your Valentine’s Day a treasured memory. As the The Globe and Mail states, ― Billy Bishop is, simply, a sensational evening’s entertainment.

WW1 fighter pilot, Billy Bishop, takes his airplane made of wood, linen, and piano wires up to the skies and by the end of his first month in action, almost every member of his squadron has been killed, driving home to him, in no uncertain terms, just what a dangerous game he’s playing. The moving and powerful musical follows Bishop as he attempts to reconcile the ecstasy of flying with the horrors of war, going on to reveal the myth of the man as he tells of crossing swords with commanders, the Germans, the British, and those who saw war as a good time. As the recipient of the Victoria Cross, Canada’s highest gallantry award, Billy Bishop truly became a Canadian hero.

Supporting Beil on piano is Zachary Gray, son of John Gray, who wrote Billy Bishop Goes to War and played the very same role in the original production more than 30 years ago. The show is directed by Sarah Rodgers who also won a Jessie Richardson Award for this show. Rodgers is married to Andrew Smith, the Artistic Director for the

Your Ticket To A Perfect Valentine's Day

Chilliwack School of Performing Arts and Director of their blockbuster production of Seussical the Musical.

With a superb mixture of irony and white-knuckle tale telling, Billy Bishop Goes to War is simply a show you do not want to miss. Purchase your tickets today by calling the Centre Box Office at 604.391.SHOW(7469) or visit the friendly agents Monday-Friday 9:30am-9:00pm, Saturday & Sunday 9:30am-5:00pm. Tickets are also available online at


Billy Bishop Goes to War was created by Order of Canada recipient John Gray with Corner Gas star Eric Peterson (who met as students in the Department of Theatre at UBC in the early 1970s). It opened on November 3, 1978 at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, co-produced by Tamahnous Theatre. After its run in Vancouver, Gray and Peterson took the play on a sixteen-month Canadian tour prior to opening in Washington in 1980, with Mike Nichols as co-producer, a prelude to their four months on and off Broadway.


Later that year, they toured to the Edinburgh Festival, then to Los Angeles where the show won both Best Play and Best Actor awards. The published play also won the 1982 Governor Generals Award for Drama and three made-for-TV movies were produced in both English and German. John Gray, named after a WW II Spitfire pilot who went down over the English Channel, recalls of their time with the play, ―We were in uniform a good deal longer than Bishop himself, albeit with less risk. 


© Copyright (c) 2010 The Valley Voice