2024 Artists

Here we can view our 2024 Artists page. We are thrilled to showcase a diverse lineup of both visiting and local artists who will be gracing our stage this year. Stay tuned as we continue to add more talented performers, with detailed profiles capturing the essence of each artist’s unique talent and contribution to our vibrant artistic community. Headliners Coming Soon—keep an eye out for exciting announcements!

Fundraiser Artists

Al Toots

A part of the 2024 Fundraiser!

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Andre Sutherland

Andre "the Man from Eldorado" Sutherland Begin is an indigenous member (Moose Cree) of the Storytellers of Canada, recites at museums, libraries, theatres, retirement homes, galleries, festivals and is no stranger to the Ryga Arts Festival.

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Ann Ramey

A part of the 2024 Fundraiser!

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Cain Critchlow

A part of the 2024 Fundraiser!

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Dawn Bassett

Dawn dabbles in playwriting, directs a successful murder mystery with Summerland Singers and Players on the KVR every year, and has enjoyed working with the Ryga Arts Festival, Cat’s Paw Productions, Tempest Theatre, and Showtime! Community Theatre. Dawn is eternally grateful to her theatre family, and her husband and son for their support. She feels blessed to have been in two plays written by her sister and is looking forward to more!

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Isobel Rondeau

Author, Isobel Rondeau was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta and eventually settled in northern Alberta where she and her husband raised their two children. Currently residing in beautiful British Columbia, Isobel finds peace and tranquility while writing close to nature. Fiction stories about everyday people are what she enjoys writing about. Isobel also writes under the pen name Belle Rondeau.

“Wings Of An Angel”

The life after residential school is not an easy one. Follow Mark Whitestone as his life unfolds before your eyes, laugh at his stories, cry at his heartbreak, love who he is and watch as his wings open.

“Absence Of Breath”

Walk with Sahtu as he meets various people in the afterlife and why they are important to him and his future self.

“Ava’s Curse”

Travel the country as young witch, Ava, and her friends try to break the curse that follows her family from generation to generation. Along the way you meet several characters who help or hinder their progress, in the end her magic must prevail. Book one.

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John Fraser

John has spent the last 3 years involved in the Okanagan theatre scene, as both an actor and sound technician. As lead sound tech for Cats Paw Productions Rocky Horror Picture Show in 2022, John got to flex his talents, working tech with a 13-cast ensemble and a 5-piece band. Even during Covid years, he stayed busy by teching the 2021 and 2022 Ryga Arts Festival events. He has performed in Summerland Singers and Players' Murder on the Rails in 2022 and Blackmail on the Rails in 2023 and assisted with story development for Covid the Musical: We're All In This Together and for The Button. Stepping out from the tech side is a new and exciting adventure and he looks forward to unleashing a longtime and unexplored passion.

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Michael Stanley Edward

Michael is a local Okanagan song slinger healing himself and the world around him with music. The experienced songsmith crafts intentional and lyrically rich music infused with intimate storytelling that resonates deep within the human experience. Michael Stanley Edward believes music can transmute pain and suffering into beauty and that this magical medicine of music should be experienced, celebrated, and encouraged by all.

Instagram: @michael.se.music

Spotify: Michael Stanley Edward


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Trista Bassett

A visual artist, songwriter, composer and now playwright, Trista has participated in art exhibits and musical performances across Canada, including Vancouver, Victoria, Toronto and Dartmouth, NS. She is half of a folk music duo named Small Kitchen Chaos, and a Canada Heritage and BC Arts Council Grant Recipient for performance and scoring of Covid the Musical: We’re All In This Together. She was blind-selected for her first 10-minute play, The Buton for this year’s 8th annual Ryga Arts Fesval, which she will be directing for the first me. Trista has also been the general manager of the Ryga Arts Festival since 2021 and is excited about this year’s upcoming festival!

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Theatre Trail Artists

MacKenzie Loureiro

Playing “Vancouver” in CarbonNation and new to the Summerland community, MacKenzie has settled here for the long haul, to be near family. When not on the local theatre stage, he’s working in the high-tech crypto startup realm and building saunas.

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Jordann Wolff

Jordann Wolff is a classically trained actor making her comeback to the stage as the bicyclist, in CarbonNation. During her three years at Victoria School of the Performing and Visual Arts, Jordann was involved in a number of musicals, plays and improv shows. In 2016, Jordann took a theatre hiatus to focus on her academic aspirations, and has since become a paramedic.

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Fereidoon Kavosian

Fereidoon started acting recently in Cat's Paw Productions' Rocky Horror Picture Show in 2022 and is an active member of Peach Gravy Improv. He is performing in Cat's Paw’s second show, Nevermore, and is co-star in the Theatre Trail play, "The Button."

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Melissa Kuse

Melissa is happy to be participating in Theatre Trail at the Ryga Arts Festival for the first time. She has had the opportunity to act in a handful of productions over the years. She is thankful to be cast in CarbonNation and hopes you enjoy it.

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Bryan Laver

Bryan has "trod the boards" of community theatre from the Prairies to BC, for over 50 years, both onstage, of stage and backstage. He has performed in productions of comedy, drama, musicals and music reviews and variety shows. He has built sets, acted in, produced, and directed both theatre and radio plays, with recent productions of the Summerland Singers & Players, both on stage and "on the rails,” with the Kettle Valley Railroad. Most recently Bryan appeared in Trista Bassets production of "Covid The Musical" and is now pleased to be returning to play a role in The Ryga Festival's collaboration with the SS&P Bead Trails presentation of "Robert and Sam.”

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John Erridge

3 years ago John auditioned for his first stage production as a personal challenge proving you are never too old to try something new and scary. Since then he has appeared in various productions in the Kelowna area. John spends his days delivering supplies to home dialysis patients.

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Loni Bryant

Loni has been a resident of Penticton since 2017. She works in social work and is new to the theatre scene. Loni recently appeared as the intrepid reporter in last summer’s Blackmail on the Rails, with the Summerland Singers and Players. Loni loves improvisation, gardening, cosplay, and making people laugh.

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Karla Henning

Playwright - GPS/GPS Voice/Venue Manager

Karla Hennig has directed, acted, stage managed or designed for more shows than she can remember and spent the last 12 years of her "working" life running a 700 seat roadhouse. She has received four "Best Female Actor" awards from Theatre BC Competitions and has seen three of her plays jump off the page and onto the stage. When not in theatre mode she sings, plays harp and piano, gets lost while hiking, designs fundraising activities for non-profits and tries to ignore housework.

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Betty-Ann Xenis

Betty-Ann has been involved in community theatre for over thirty years. This is her directorial debut.

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Jamie Doll

Born and raised in the Okanagan, Jamie found a passion for musical theatre at a young stage. She has performed across Canada on stage, commercials, and music videos, before settling down in Calgary. For six years she taught the Musical Theatre Program at the Calgary Actors' Studio, worked in the Learning and Engagement department at Theatre Calgary, all while continuing to perform on stage. Jamie is excited to be back in the Okanagan raising a family, and thrilled to call Summerland home. She recently started teaching with the Soundstage Youth Performance Arts Group in Penticton, and performed on stage earlier this year in Soundstage Productions' Disney+ Broadway Musical Showcase. Currently, Jamie is assisting and directing in The Ryga Festival’s Theatre Trails and continues to be an instructor at In House Performing Arts Studio in Summerland.

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Chantal Ethier

Chantal is excited to perform for the first time with Theatre Trails at the Ryga Arts festival. She has an extensive background in theatre, starting with earning a theatre degree At Canterbury High School for the Performing Arts. She continued her training in Theatre, earning a BA in

Theatre at the University of Ottawa. Since then, she’s acted, produced, and directed in many plays in Ottawa, Vancouver and the Okanagan. Chantal thanks her director Jamie Doll, the writer of GPS, Karla Henning, and Trista for all their hard work and collaboration.

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Rob King

Having once had the privilege of participating in a workshop conducted by George Ryga, Rob is a big supporter of Rygafest! He particularly enjoys being part of mysteries, comedy or both!

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Ed Schneider

Ed has been on stage one way or the other since he was four years old and is still enthralled by its magic. He has worked with theatre companies in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan for as long as he can remember. Currently Ed is Director/Producer/Publicist for Many Hats Theatre Company, of which he is also a founding Director. 

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Outspoken Artists

Ollie Rankin

Ollie Rankin is a Kiwi-Canadian creative technology pioneer, award-winning multidisciplinary
artist and futurist. He’s worked at the forefront of the global visual effects industry, from The Lord
of the Rings to Alice Through the Looking Glass and is recognized as a pioneer of virtual reality
(VR) entertainment. Rankin has produced music festivals in the metaverse that were seen by
millions, has won accolades for his virtual production and virtual reality films, and has contributed
to groundbreaking technological advancements in spatial computing. He’s worked with the
creators of Fortnight, been an industry advisor to NASA and has repeatedly been recognized as a
top ten thought leader in VR. But Rankin’s true calling is as a champion of human destiny. He is
co-founder and director of the United Humans Foundation, a non-profit that advocates for
collective decision-making based on love, fairness and science. As a writer, poet and performer,
he challenges the conventional wisdom that exploitation, greed and inequality are inevitable and
strives to inspire audiences with the potential for an inclusive, fair and sustainable future.

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Erick Thompson

Erick Thompson is a communications professional and filmmaker. He is communications supervisor with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS). Erick is also the information section chief in the RD05 Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). He joined the EOC in 2018 during region-wide flooding and wildfires. Erick is an avid trail runner and recently produced and directed a short trail running film called Fifty. Erick has spent more than 20 years working as a television and radio broadcaster.

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Brakeman Jack

Brakeman Jack is a heritage troubadour. For 25 years he entertained B.C. audiences telling stories and singing original song with The Kettle Valley Brakemen. He's delighted to participate in this year's George Ryga Festival's Spoken Word Event.

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Festival Artists

Barbara Jagodics

Barbara Jagodics has been in the performing arts since 2001, her mission is to educate people about First Nations people. “If it makes you laugh, or think, it was worth it!” Currently she is in Summerland Ryga Arts festival events:

Outspoke! Reading her dark comedy "CRACK! Which was inspired by a true story of a man getting help with housing. Some of the questions are real and some are made up. Guess which ones?

Brown Bag Art Social - Interactive Hoop demonstrations with participants. Indigenous hoop dancing is a form of storytelling through dance by creating shapes.

In addition to participating as an actress in Theatre Trails in the play CarboNation.

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Don Gayton

Don Gayton fuses ecology and deeply personal insights, as he portrays his Okanagan Valley homeland—and beyond. Don is the author of several award-winning books of non-fiction, including The Wheatgrass Mechanism, Man Facing West, Landscapes of the Interior, and Okanagan Odyssey. More at  www.dongayton.ca

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Faye Arcand

Faye Arcand, raised on the west coast of BC, is the seventh of eight children and has been blessed with and appreciates, an abundance of family and friends. It was her eldest sister who taught her how to read and write at a young age. Lessons took place in the attic with a chalk board and pointer stick. That was the beginning of something special.

Arcand loves participating in writing conferences, festivals, and literary events. She’s currently organizing the Wine Country Writers’ Festival which takes place September 2023, in Penticton.



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Georgia Goerz

Georgia Goerz is a self-taught artist with a passion for pencil drawings and acrylic paintings. Her paintings and drawings focus on the human mind and figure, while mixing many different themes and genres throughout, including expressionism, realism and art nouveau. She loves to explore new art techniques, and is always looking for new ways to express herself into her art. She currently lives in the great Okanagan but has lived in Edmonton as well, and is excited to continue creating live art.

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Kym Gouchie

Lheidli T’enneh artist, storyteller, performer, and cultural ambassador Kym Gouchie celebrates the healing power of music and the joyful spirit of childhood that resonates within us all. Her show is a family-oriented experience, featuring heartwarming songs for listeners of all ages from her new album Shun betnats’ujeh (we heal through songs).

With her traditional hand drum, acoustic guitar, full-bodied voice, and authentic storytelling, Kym Gouchie gives us the gamut, from catchy melodies that inspire playful moments to gentle lullabies that soothe the soul.

Kym is dedicated to preserving Indigenous traditions – her life and work are deeply rooted in cultural meaning and importance – and while she tickles her audience, she also instills in them an appreciation for her ancestral learnings and languages. A devoted mother and grandmother, she is a pillar of her ever-expanding global community, guiding others toward healing and reconciliation through her artistry. She unites diverse audiences in celebration of Indigenous heritage.

"When Kym performs, her audience is immediately engaged by her genuine love for people, song, and culture. She has the rare gift of being able to connect with children and adults alike through her storytelling lyrics and her mesmerizing voice."

- Julie Fisher, BC School District 57 teacher

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Natalie Hobbs

Natalie Hobbs earned a dance diploma from MacEwan University in 2002 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Simon Fraser University in 2004. She has choreographed for professional venues in Vancouver, the BC Interior and Newfoundland and worked as a dance teacher in several professional studios. Natalie has been teaching and performing swing dance for over nine years and has attended numerous swing dance workshops, lectures, and community events. In 2021 she completed the Lindy Hop Teacher's Academy online with Asa and Daniel Heedman. She began teaching in Kelowna (Okanagan Swing Dance) in the Fall, 2022.

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Roark Critchlow

Roark was born in Calgary in the 60's. He moved to Summerland at 15 and eventually attended Uvic where he fed his passion for acting in the Theatre Department. He performed on stage around Canada for a few years and then found himself in the vanguard of the fledgling Vancouver tv scene.

He comported himself well, then moved to Los Angeles where, after braving the inclement weather and some not too little time, he landed the role of Dr. Mike on Days of Our Lives. Since leaving that erstwhile institution, he has played in everything from feature films to tv movies to series regular roles ( Pretty Little Liars, V) and guest spots on over 10 television shows.

This musical/poetical collaboration with Sergei represents a new format for Roark and he is very excited about it.

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Rolly Grimm

I'm Rolly Grimm, often introduced as a Cowboy Poet. Well, I've got to let you know that I'm not really a cowboy and I'm not really a poet. The poems - well, I don't write them, I just recite them. In fact, a more accurate introduction would be: Rolly- the Retired Old Fart who likes to memorize Cowboy and Other Poems and share them with captive audiences- like you! I am a retired Environmental Protection Officer that is currently living in and loving the beautiful Okanagan.

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Roman Bloom

Roman is 15 years old. He writes poetry, stories and music. In his poems, he writes about confusing emotions that you don't even understand, yourself.

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Sergei Ryga

Sergei noticed the piano in a back room of the Ryga house at age 13. Though the instrument had been there his whole life, it had been invisible to him until that age. Self-taught, Sergei found his passion composing songs, and learning to play the Beatles (Let It Be was the first song he learned). Eventually he began to sing.

Fifteen years later he entered university as a voice major followed by a colourful 25 year career as a high school music teacher.

Looking at retirement, Sergei loves the opportunity to be involved in all things creative and musical.

Composing for Rygafest ticks many boxes for him - getting to team up with brother, Campbell, childhood friends, Roark and Cameron and former student, Dan.

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Tarcila Neves

A mixed Afro-Indigenous Portuguese woman and an emerging artist, I grew up in the vibrant Gueto district of Rio de Janeiro, where art has always been my solace and my passion. From a young age, I immersed myself in fine arts studies.

After graduating in Industrial Design, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery and artistic exploration. I worked in different fields, saving every penny to pursue my dream of studying digital art in Toronto and concept art in Vancouver.

I'm passionate about making art accessible to all. I specialize in creating augmented reality experiences accompanied by audio descriptions, aiming to make art accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments.

In 2024, I achieved a significant milestone: my first selection for an immersive installation at the Port of Oak Bay. It was deeply meaningful as my dad, who passed away earlier this year, was my constant source of support and inspiration.

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