A Little Background on “Show Tunes and Croons”

Show Tunes & Croons – Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chelsey DR

I just wanted to give you a little background on our upcoming concert –Our daughter, Chelsey,  has always wanted to work overseas helping in Third World countries.  She has earned a degree in Anthropology and certification in Emergency Management in order to pursue that goal.  However, she also has auto-immune diseases and therefore extended trips overseas are not possible. She is now back at university completing a graduate program in social work. After researching different charities, she decided on Friends of the Orphans Canada. It is volunteer-driven, based in Woodstock, and helpers are needed at orphanages for two weeks to give the regular workers a break. So last year, Chelsey went to the Dominican Republic and this year she is going to Peru. She has extensive experience with children with developmental and physical disabilities, and she will be helping out with special needs kids.

Our son, Thomas, on the other hand, has always wanted to be an entertainer. When he was only 3, he would make us sit on the grass, while he climbed on top of the picnic table to sing and dance for us. Around the house, Thomas is apt to burst into song at any given moment – which can be a bit disconcerting since he has a very loud musical theatre belting voice. As sisters do, Chelsey has complained about his loud, impromptu songs startling her or even waking her up. So she was really pleased when he offered to put his voice to good use and present a benefit concert.

Thomas graduated from Sheridan College’s musical theatre program in 2009, and has been employed fairly steadily as a performer ever since – as much as a stage actor in Canada can be. Last summer he was Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, at Huron Country Playhouse if you happened to see that show. He has worked at the Playhouse frequently – he was also Mordred in Camelot there – and then Camelot was sold to a Broadway company and went on tour – they did 100 shows in 88 cities in 35 states and 2 provinces. It was fun when they came back here and spent 2 days at the JLC in London. Last winter he did White Christmas in Winnipeg and then this year, he choreographed White Christmas at the Palace Theatre in London. On Tuesday night they held an awards ceremony – it’s the “Oscars” for live theatre in London and he won the award for best choreographer. Coming up next he’s going to be at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax.

Most of us would find it a tough life – on Mondays, he goes to auditions in Toronto and sometimes he travels to New York, faces rejection, never knows when he’ll find work next, and then when he gets a job, he packs his suitcase and heads off – but he absolutely loves it. At the concert, Thomas will be performing Broadway hits from old favourites like Camelot or Brigadoon, and also songs from newer shows like Wicked.

Our other entertainer at the concert is Michael Vanhevel. We heard this young man sing last fall at Oakwood Inn in Grand Bend, and we were amazed. He just turned 20, but he has a rich, smooth melodic voice way beyond his years. He is a crooner and sings Frank Sinatra – songs like New York, New York, or My Way – which actually brought a lump to my throat. I also love his rendition of Bobby Darin’s Mack the Knife, or my personal favourite, Beyond the Sea. He is presenting a concert with a full orchestra at the Imperial Theatre in Sarnia on February 10. This young man is going places; he has a voice better than Michael Bublé’s. Please come to our concert and hear him, because then you’ll be able to say “I heard Michael Vanhevel before he was famous.”

We are truly grateful for the talents these young people possess – as Thomas says, “Chelsey is going to save the world, while I sing and dance.”

The concert is this Saturday, January 28, 2:00 p.m. at Strathroy United Church, and it will be repeated at Forest United Church at 7:00 p.m. Please come and bring your friends.

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