Leisa Way & The Great American Songbook

Leisa Loves her Audiences

Most performers thank their audiences and tell them how much they love them.  However, sometimes you get the feeling that their sincerity is questionable.  But not with Leisa Way. You know that Leisa just loves her audiences. You can feel it.

So it’s no surprise that she is among the first to start touring her shows as pandemic lockdowns begin to ease. Leisa is famous for her themed concerts where she and her dozens of wigs (only Moira Rose on Schitt’s Creek has more wigs) take on various personas. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to see many of Leisa’s entertaining concerts.  She honours either Patsy Cline or Dolly Parton for a full evening. In 2017 she toured her show, Oh! Canada, across the country to celebrate the nation’s 150 years. For that show, she became Celine Dion, Anne Murray, Rita MacNeil, Shania Twain, Joni Mitchell, and  K.D. Lang, among others.

Her British Invasion show is possibly her most popular where she sings everyone from Lulu, Cilla Black and Shirley Bassey right through to Adele while her band covers Eric Clapton, Queen, Elton John and, of course, The Beatles.   

Her Opry Gold show brings Nashville alive with hits from Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, to today’s great country stars like Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, and the Zac Brown Band.

At the Globus Theatre near Bobcaygeon (outdoors at the Lakeview Arts Barn) last week, she opened a new show – The Great American Song Book, bringing back jazz greats of the past along with distinguished musical theatre works from George and Ira Gershwin and Cole Porter.  Joining Leisa on stage are Doug Balfour on piano, Bob Hewus on bass and Fred Smith on guitar and with vocals.

The Globus Theatre had planned for a summer of outdoor theatre, but with recent changes, they are now moving back inside the Lakeview Arts Barn. Prior to performances, they offer dinner to all theatre guests. Check out their website for upcoming dinners and shows here. Leisa’s performances were held outdoors on grass next to the barn/theatre with the audience seated at picnic tables where dinner was served. We enjoyed the Shepherd’s Pie and Bangers and Mash before Leisa took the stage.

It’s not just Leisa’s singing that makes her shows so enjoyable.  She tells fascinating background stories about the songs that she sings.  Here’s just one sample:  When she was about to sing “Slow Boat to China”, the song written by Fred Loesser and made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, she explained that it is from Neptune’s Daughter, a 1949 movie musical starring Esther Williams, Ricardo Montalban and Red Skelton. Neptune’s Daughter was famous for its synchronized swimming numbers.  At the time, “Slow Boat to China” was considered very racy and its inclusion in the movie was scandalous as it might offend audiences.  Ironically, the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was included without question, but years later, it has been banned by many radio stations due to the Me Too movement. 

While these interesting anecdotes and her warm stage presence make all Lisa’s shows so interesting, it’s her singing that brings her audience back.  Leisa’s wide-range, full voice has certainly earned her the moniker Canada’s Songbird. Don’t miss her next performance. She loves her audience and you will feel special when you spend an evening with her. 

Leisa Way’s Great American Songbook at the Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn, near Bobcaygeon, until July 17.

Please note: Leisa’s performance was funded by the Music Performance Trust Fund and Toronto Musicians Association

Upcoming Events:
Sat. July 31st  from 11:30am to 12:30pm at Orangeville Farmers Market – singing jazz standards with rising star pianist/vocalist Nicholas Mustapha; Bob Hewus (bass) (this is part of a 6 concert series for the farmers market concerts beginning Sat. July 24th, and ends Sat. Aug. 31st)

– Sun. Aug. 8th – 3:00pm – Rhinestone Cowgirl – a drive-in concert for the Heritage Music Festival at Fiddle Park in Shelburne, ON

– Sat. Aug. 14th – 11:30am to 12:30pm at Orangeville Farmers Market Summer Mix-Tape with Fred Smith (guitar); Bobby Prochaska (bass) 

– Sat/Sun. Aug. 21/22nd – Highlands Summer Festival, Haliburton – Rock the Night Away (3 concerts – 7pm Saturday and 1pm and 7pm on Sunday)

– Wed. Aug. 25th at 7:00pm – Opry Gold at Town Park Aurora – 49 Wells Street

– Thurs. Aug. 26th at 7:00pm – Opry Gold – drive in concert for Town of Orangeville

– Sat. Aug. 28th at 9:00pm – Rock the Night Away – headlining the Aurora Ribfest (address:  Machell Park – 2A Aurora Heights Drive)

 Wed. Sept. 1st at 7:00pm – Summer Mix Tape concert at Forbes Park (16 Kribs St, Cambridge) with Fred Smith (guitars/vocals) and Aaron Solomon (guitar vocals)

Photo: Leisa Way outdoors at the Globus Theatre in the Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon

Leisa Way’s Great American Songbook
Performed by Leisa Way, with Doug Balfour (piano), Bob Hewus (bass) and Fred Smith (guitar & vocals)
July 13 to 17, 2021
Globus Theatre, Lakeview Arts Barn, Bobcaygeon
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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