Canadian Legends

The Mountie Rides into Town Again

The ever popular Mountie Archibald F. Inkster just brought his musical ride back to the stage at Huron Country Playhouse. Astride his frisky hobby horse, in full dress red serge, Constable Inkster (or Finkster as the program says) welcomes theatre goers by frisking them.

It’s Drayton Entertainment’s Neil Aitchison in the familiar Mountie role, once again having just as much fun as the audience.  Canadian Legends, on stage until July 16, is somewhat similar to Sorry…I’m Canadian which was at the Playhouse in 2013 and 2008.  This new iteration is updated with both old and new all-Canadian composers and singers.

Neil Aitchison as Constable Inkster and his not-so-bright sidekick Clifford (Frank Parks) are as funny as ever.  Neil recycles some of his old jokes and there are some new laughs as well.  I’ve made this comparison before – Aitchison reminds us of Red Skelton, for those who can remember the popular comedian of the 1950s and 60s.  The audience loves it when Aitchison starts to chuckle before he reaches his punch line.

A team of four male and two female singers take us chronologically through the history of popular Canadian music.  The older tunes provide a wonderful nostalgia trip.  While the songs are performed, the photos and names of the original composer or singer appear on screen and on two huge maple leaves.  After a nod to Guy Lombardo, we are taken through pop, country and rock groups over the years.  There are 43 songs in Act I and 40 in Act II, so Canada’s talent is well covered.  The six singers all have amazing voices, taking turns as leads or back up.

Here’s just a sample of the 83 numbers presented:

Lee Siegel, always popular on the Huron Country Playhouse stage, brings the house down with his version of Blue Rodeo’s Try. Shelley Kenney dances during the number, adding to the poignancy.  Stacey Kay offers a powerful rendition of Alannah Myles’ Black Velvet, and stops the show with Celine Dion’s The Power of Love. Canadian Legends 2016

Laura Mae Nason sings the Rankin Family’s heartwarming Sonny’s Dream and Rise Again beautifully, and later she is a very sassy Shania Twain singing Man! I feel Like a Woman and That Don’t Impress Me Much.  Gerrad Everard has some fun with Stompin’ Tom’s Sudbury on a Saturday Night, and also has the opportunity to demonstrate his skills as a drummer.  A couple in real life (with a new baby, too!), Laura Mae and Gerrad sing together as Ian and Sylvia Tyson with a memorable performance of Four Strong Winds.

Duff MacDonald gives us an excellent Bryan Adams with Summer of ’69 and Run to You, while Michael Clarke takes us back with Terry Jack’s Seasons in the Sun and later rocks Steppenwolf’s Magic Carpet Ride.

Four dancers with incredible energy, Shelley Kenney, Chad McNamara, Brett Taylor, and Breanna Willis take us from hoedowns on Don Messer’s Jubilee to jive through to modern dance.

This show isn’t trying to impersonate singers or bands – it offers top-notch musical theatre performers singing Canadian favourites.  That brings me to one concern:  why try to have the singers impersonate musicians?  The fake instrument playing isn’t necessary, and in fact, is a distraction.  There is a great 5-man band at the back of the stage playing all the music:  Why not let them come into the spotlight? Then let the singers do what they do best:  just sing.  The swinging saxophones don’t add anything.

Canadian Legends should make us all proud. You will be surprised at the number of well-known songs you didn’t realize are Canadian.  It’s a walk down memory lane and a great foundation for Canadian music to come.

And finally, what show about Canadian Legends would be complete without Justin Bieber?  Yes, there is one brilliant impersonation.  Justin’s performance is one you will have to see for yourself.  No words can describe it.

Canadian Legends continues with eight shows a week until July 16 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check

Photo: Lee Siegel and Company in Canadian Legends, 2016.  Photo by Darlene O’Rourke.

Canadian Legends
Conceived by Alex Mustakas
Orchestrations & Vocal Arrangements by Robert Foster
Visual Elements by Peter Conrad & Steve Kelly
Directed by Alex Mustakas
Musical Direction by Brigham Phillips
Choreographed by Gino Berti
Performed by Neil Aitchison, Michael Clarke, Gerrad Everard, Stacey Kay, Shelley Kenney, Duff MacDonald, Chad McNamara, Laura Mae Nason, Lee Siegel, Brett Taylor, Breanna Willis, and Frank Parks
Produced by Drayton Entertainment
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
June 30 to July 16, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson


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