Fiddler on the Loose

An Ever-Changing, Fun-Filled Show

Reviewed by Vicki Stokes

It feels great to be back at the Huron Country Playhouse after such a long hiatus, and an energetic music-filled variety show is the perfect way to celebrate its 50th anniversary! Fiddler on the Loose is packed with music, dancing, and enough talent to raise the roof off the Playhouse! And speaking of a roof, they manage to squeeze in a musical tribute to Fiddler on the Roof! This isn’t the same show as in the past. It keeps changing, so if thought you’ve seen it before, you haven’t.

Jesse Grandmont is a consummate host with star quality and has a special way with his bow. He and his sister, Leah Grandmont, are the Donny and Marie of the fiddle. But this didn’t happen overnight. The pair has been practicing since they were toddlers. Their star quality has emerged from hard work and discipline. What a pleasure to watch them shine!

Jesse and Leah aren’t the only siblings in this lively show. The Ballagh family from Teeswater has plenty of talent as well. Devan and Paige fiddle, tap dance and sing their way to our hearts, and Matt, a talented musician, can rock the guitar as well as sing and dance.

Elena Howard-Scott, new to Drayton Entertainment, joins the other ladies with her fiddling skills but has outstanding pipes – her voice is incredible. She convinces the audience of this from the get-go with her and Jesse Grandmont’s Johnny Cash/June Carter tribute. Their “Ring of Fire” is simply stunning.

We are treated to a little proper classical violin music, but many other genres are also featured, and everyone demonstrates their vocal talents. The guys rock out to “Stray Cat Strut” with Erik Larson on bass and vocals. They rock around the clock with Stephen Ingram and Dave Robilliard. There is plenty of country music, some Celtic and Irish, and a little pop and jazz. There’s even a bluegrass duel: Jesse Grandmont versus Matt Ballagh with “Dueling Banjos.” One of my favourite performances is their stunning version of “Viva La Vida”.  There is something for everyone’s taste.

The laughter flows as the guys debate about whether or not size matters. Ingram treats the audience with his very large marimba and proves he knows how to handle his mallets. And somehow, Leah Grandmont manages to disappear, and in her place, Clair Voyant appears in gown and shower cap for the hilarious “Seven Old Ladies.”

As the show continues, the audience gets bolder, singing along and cheering. Everyone is respectful as they tune into the whole ensemble for a “Home on the Range” medley and they hang off of every note of Jesse Grandmont’s “Hallelujah,” standing to pay their respects until Jesse lets us know that no show featuring fiddles is complete without “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Jesse and the gang are fantastic, and they share the credit with the talents of D2 Entertainment. The creations of the Victoria Playhouse’s Davids, (Rogers and Hogan) and the skills of Mark Payne, are quality entertainment. And if you can measure a performance’s success by the audience response, this show is a definite hit!

Fiddler on The Loose continues until July 9 at Huron Country Playhouse, Mainstage. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 519-238-6000 or Toll Free at 1-855-372-9866, or by checking for availability.

Photo: Jesse Grandmont, Devan Ballagh and Paige Ballagh in Fiddler on the Loose. Photo by Drayton Entertainment.

Fiddler on the Loose
Conceived and created by David Rogers
Directed and Choreographed by David Hogan
Musical Direction by Jesse Grandmont
Musical Arrangements by Mark Payne
Set, Costume and Lighting Design by D2 Entertainment
Performed by Jesse Grandmont, with Devan Ballagh, Matt Ballagh, Paige Ballagh, Leah Grandmont, Elena Howard-Scott, Stephen Ingram, Erik Larson, Dave Robilliard
Drayton Entertainment Production
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
June 23 to July 9, 2022
Reviewed  by Vicki Stokes


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