All in Harmony
Drayton Entertainment’s Artistic Director Alex Mustakas has continued to his tried and true “Legends” series with Legends of Harmony. This is a concert-style revue, covering all your favourite four-part harmony songs.
Most of the numbers are not performed in their entirety – if they were, we’d be there all night, because 88 songs are covered in this show: 53 in the first act, 35 in the second. So kudos to the cast for remembering all those lyrics! Not to mention all the carefully choreographed moves.
The show opens with four singers coming in through the audience, wearing their vests and straw boaters, singing Lida Rose barbershop style, from the beloved musical The Music Man. Then the tempo picks up immediately, as they go right into a set of Four Seasons songs, Jersey Boys style. They take the audience through all the harmonizing groups of the 1950s: The Four Lads, The Crew Cuts, The Platters, Dion and the Belmonts, and so on. Projections on the screen at the back of the stage give us the name of the group and trivia about them. Then we move into the sixties with The Hollies, The Beatles, Motown, the Beach Boys and more. An audience favourite is the Monkees set – the four singers don wigs, ride in on the Last Train to Clarkesville, then crawl into bed to sing Daydream Believer.
Act II highlights include The Turtles’ Happy Together, Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s Teach your Children, and Credence Clearwater Revivals’ medley of hits. The show moves from the BeeGees disco hits to a selection of country groups and some gospel favourites.
The real star of this show is Musical Director Craig Fair. He makes the grand piano hop, leads the four singers, he also sings, and at one point gets up and does some step-dancing, to the delight of the audience. Fair has an amazing falsetto voice, hitting all the high notes for songs like The Four Seasons’ Sherry, and then belting out the rock and roll hits. He did an amazing performance of “Do you love Me?” – The Contours hit, made famous by the movie Dirty Dancing.
Jeremy Crittenden joins Fair for some duo harmonies, bringing down the house with Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge of Trouble Waters. Crittenden also shows great vocal talent with one of my personal favourite groups, The Zombies: Time of the Season and She’s Not There.
Iain Stewart has fun with Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter and Henry VIII in the Herman’s Hermits set. Stewart also amazes the audience with very agile vocal ability, singing about Sarah, who sits on ships, sits and shines, sits and shucks, sips Schlitz and sits and shifts in her Chevrolet – with nary a slip of the tongue!
In the confined space of the Schoolhouse Theatre stage, they have a unique costume change system. On the wall are revolving panels decorated with album covers and gold records. These panels spin around, revealing new hats or jackets for the performers to put on. It’s fun to picture the stage hands hurriedly grabbing the old outfits and hanging up new ones behind the scenes.
One complaint – this production insulted my beloved Guess Who with the clichéd Canadian plaid shirts and toques. The Guess Who, who were always very proud Canadians, never dressed like that.
I am arriving late to the table for this review – it’s been running at the Schoolhouse Theatre since July, but this was my first opportunity to see it. If you love the oldies, order your tickets now before it closes December 22.
Legends of Harmony continues with eight shows a week until December 22 at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check http://www.draytonentertainment.com/
Legends of Harmony
Conceived and Directed by Alex Mustakas
Orchestrations & Vocal arrangements by Robert Foster, with additional by Craig Fair
Choreographed by Gino Berti
Musical direction by Craig Fair
Performed by Jeremy Crittenden, Chris Sams, Iain Stewart, Kraig Waye
St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre
July 31 to December 22, 2013
Reviewed by Mary Alderson