O Ye’ll Tak’ The High Road, And I’ll Tak’ The Low Road
Scots and wannabe Scots: Get your tickets now for Scotland Sings, on stage at Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia. Or maybe you have no particular feeling for Scotland – you can still appreciate the beautiful singing and smooth harmonies in this show.
Scottish-born Brian McKay, looking handsome in his kilt, is the host of the evening, and reads aloud from a book of Robbie Burns’ poetry. Renowned vocalist June Crowley, herself born in Glasgow, sings many beautiful favourites in her crystal voice, starting the evening off with “Ae Fond Kiss”.
She is joined by an amazing singer, new to the VPP stage, Zachary Read. Not only does Read possess a rich voice, he also plays the bagpipes in several numbers, and later plays a Scottish flute.
Most entertaining is a quartet of four young men, all still students in Sheridan College’s musical theatre program. Not only does the four – Ben Chaisson, Ben Cookson, Seth Johnson, Conner J. Lucas – sing in perfect harmony, they also learned highland dancing in short order. As the four young men sing “Black is the Colour of my True Love’s Hair”, Madison Bell joins them on stage. She is a wonderfully smooth dancer with long, shiny beautiful dark hair. She also doubles as an usher at VPP, so we are sure to see her again!
The audience is also treated to the excellent violin playing of brother and sister duo Jesse and Leah Grandmont. The two are VPP favourites whose vocal talent is also appreciated. We have heard Leah’s voice mature, to the point where she can hold her own in a duet with June Crowley.
There is even a song by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly: In a somewhat touching salute to rubber boots, the cast joins together for “If it wisnae fur yer Wellies”.
Zachary Read on bagpipes and the Drum Corps, including Jeremy Evans, Debbie Hinton-Hall, David Kincaid and Laurie McAndrew offer an instrumental interlude, joined by a very impressive group of four young highland dancers – Isabella Biliski, McKenna Lindsay, Emma St. Arnaud, and Kayla Sutherland.
This show is a beautiful compilation — from the silliness of “Ye cannae shove yer Granny” to many beautiful and heartfelt tributes to the heather-covered hills. On opening night, many in the audience were wiping tears when “Auld Lang Syne” concluded the performance. Credit goes to the team of Rogers, Payne and Hogan for another great musical revue.
Some folks might say they are not fans of the bagpipes, but please don’t let that keep you away. June Crowley’s and Zachary Read’s beautiful voices more than compensate for any ear-discomfort caused by the skirl of the bagpipes.
And a final, very positive note for Victoria Playhouse’s 2016 season kick-off: On opening night all proceeds were donated to Fort McMurray, for relief from the wildfire devastation. When ticket sales, 50/50 draw, and bucket donations were added up, more than $10,000 will be going to the people of Fort Mac. Wow!
Scotland Sings continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until May 20. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit www.thevpp.ca
Photo: Scotland Sings on stage at VPP. Photo by Diane ODell and Ruth Brown
Writer/Director: David Rogers
Musical Director/Arranger: Mark Payne
Choreographed by David Hogan & Adele MacKenzie
Credit to Anne Sutherland for Highland Choreography
Hosted by Brian McKay
Performed by June Crowley, Zachary Read, Jesse Grandmont, Leah Grandmont, Ben Chaisson, Ben Cookson, Seth Johnson, Conner J. Lucas, et al.
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
May 4 to 20, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson