Lively Cast Showcases Canadian Talent
In 2017, Canada will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. Victoria Playhouse should start making plans now to re-mount Canada Sings for the Sesquicentennial, and in fact, a cross-country tour might be in order. This show, now on stage in Petrolia, provides more than just a lively and entertaining evening, it instills a wonderful sense of pride. Listening to the two-and-a-half-hours of music written and performed by Canadians, with a talented cast of young Canadians is just what our country needs.
The show, created by David Rogers and directed by David Hogan, is a revival Let the Sunshine In which they staged at Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre in 2011. Only one cast member is the same as the 2011 show; fiddler Jesse Grandmont returns to his role, along with 11 fresh young faces to make up a dozen very talented young people.
Rebecca McCauley, the tiny young lady with the biggest voice ever, sings the showstopper. Her emotion-filled rendition of Leonard Cohen’s anthem Hallelujah brings a lump to your throat and sends shivers down your back.
Michael Vanhevel sings Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read my Mind, providing another emotional turning point. Vanhevel also sings the finale – My Way, written by Canadian Paul Anka and made famous by Frank Sinatra. Vanhevel excels whenever given the opportunity to sing something from the Chairman of the Board.
Christopher Dunn provides a proud moment with a powerful a cappella version of the Maple Leaf Forever. He has a rich, full operatic voice, perfect for this patriotic song.
Jonathan Gysbers has a heart-warming rendition of Roch Voisine’s I’ll Always be There, and later entertains with the Stampeders’ Sweet City Woman.
Alex Baerg and Alexis Gordon sing Shania Twain’s From This Moment On as a beautiful duet. Baerg also sings the great Canadian hit, American Woman by Guess Who.
Sisters Christine McKeon and Caitlin McKeon sing Bryan Adam’s Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman? with Caitlin adding dance. Christine gives a strong performance of Celine Dion’s Power of Love.
Lindsay van der Grinten brings us Anne Murray’s hits including the beautiful I Cried a Tear. Mikayla McCrory offers a history lesson singing a beautiful 1939 ballad, I’ll Never Smile Again, written by a Canadian woman, made famous by Frank Sinatra – one of his first hits.
Jesse Grandmont, fresh from Fiddler on the Loose Too, offers his a lively Ashley McIsaac impression. He also has fun with Lambton’s own Kim Mitchell, singing everybody’s favourite summer party song Patio Lanterns.
Patrick Bowman is a multitalented cast member – as well as singing, he plays the 12 string guitar, sax and accordion in various numbers.
All 6 young men join together to sing a rich, slow version Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds, voted by CBC the greatest Canadian song of all time.
And in the midst of all these great songs, so as not to discriminate against any songwriters, are the two worst songs in Canadian history: Paul Anka’s Having My Baby and Justin Beiber’s Baby, Baby, adding a touch of comedy.
A special shout out for the 50-50 draw: All the guys sing about what could be done with the winnings of the 50-50 draw in a comical song, to the tune of If I Had a Million Dollars.
The songs I have mentioned here are just a smattering of what is in the show…more than 60 Canadian hits are crammed into the two-and-a-half-hour performance. The night wraps up with the song written for the Vancouver Olympics: I Believe, another all Canadian hit guaranteed to make you feel good about the great country in which we live. It makes you want to stand up with the red maple leaf and fly the waving flag….and yes, Waving Flag is another song in the show!
Canada Sings continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until July 27. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit www.thevpp.ca
Conceived and created by David Rogers
Directed by David Hogan
Musical Composition and Direction by Mark Payne
Choreographed by Adele MacKenzie
Performed by Alex Baerg, Patrick Bowman, Christopher Dunn, Alexis Gordon, Jesse Grandmount, Jonathan Gysbers, Rebecca McCauley, Mikayla McCrory, Caitlin McKeon, Christine McKeon, Lindsay van der Grinten, and Michael Vanhevel.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
July 11 to 27, 2014
Reviewed by Mary Alderson