Edmonton Tourist: The Music Man

I love community Theatre. Any time you can support activities that involve creativity, kindness and fun, I think you should do it. Now, not all community theatre is good. Some is actually very terrible. But for the most part, these are people who have day jobs and want a forum for their creative outlet. Not everyone needs to have a career in the arts but arts as a hobby is what helps fulfill people and make their day brighter. I am for that. So I like to support it, and its fun for me….usually…

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Photo by the Edmonton Tourist
Thursday night I had the pleasure for going to the Trinity Players rendition of The Music Man. I brought my dad because it is his all time favourite musical. It is essentially the feel good story of the power of positive thought. If you think you can succeed, you will.

A friend of mine Tim Lo, who is the company’s Assistant Director, Barbershop Quartet member and all-round good guy, suggested I come see the show. I had never been to a production of the Trinity Players before and was hooked when he told me it was The Music Man. My dad often showed us the movie as kids and on car trips we sang the complicated musical pieces for pure entertainment. Now that I am an adult, I realize just how complicated these are. Think of it as the ground roots for rap – early Hamilton? Well…Not quite but fun to listen to!

The stage is at the Trinity Church 10037 84 Ave, Edmonton. The seats were less than comfortable being wooden pews, but had a licensed intermission in the basement and there was something strangely naughty about drinking beer in the sanctuary, that part was fun too. I am not sure where the actors come from or how they came to be part of the theatre troupe, but I do know there were auditions in September, so its not a group of pals saying “You be him, You be her and I’ll sew stuff” It might be that way actually, but it didn’t feel that way.

The Music Man was preformed in an over-the-top fun and kitschy way. But it worked and I sat with a smile on my face for most of the evening. Harold Hill played by Kyle Sanscartier, was slick and smarmy, the way Harold Hill should be played. His character development evolved into a guy with a conscience. I wanted him to be Robert Preston who portrayed him in the film, but as soon as the opening scene was done, this guy was Harold Hill to me. He masterfully pulled off Ya Got Trouble and 76 Trombones, his rendition had me singing in my seat. The show needed a strong lead because Marian Paroo played by Christina O’Dell would have carried the show off on her own without that balance. Her skill and musical talent had won our hearts from the first moment she sang on stage. My dad remarked that he enjoyed her rendition far more than than that Shirley Partridge, or Shirley Jones who portrayed Marian the Librarian in the Movie version. The two worked beautifully together although lacked real heat during the love scene, but that kept it family friendly.

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Photo by @Nancpricephotography
There were hidden gems throughout the show, such as the hen party singing Pick-a-little/Talk-a-Little/Goodnight and the Wells Fargo Wagon, I won’t divulge any spoilers, but that was my favourite scene of the night. The Barbershop Quartet gets a big shout out too because Barbershop makes everything more fun and the scene they sang with Christina O’Dell was complicated and their skill made it so fantastic. Hats off to Producer/Director Morgan Kunitz who brought together this community theatre and created something fun and enjoyable.

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Photo by The Edmonton Tourist
Tickets are available at the door and eventbrite.com for tonight’s show and tomorrow night. This production was great enough for me to become a regular patron of the Trinity Players. Next week I will be at Jesus Christ Superstar because I bet they will create a fantastic version.

Go give them watch.

Photo Credit Nance Price @nancpricephotography

Trinity Church 10037 84 Ave, Edmonton

March 23-26, 2017 @ 7:30 PM
March 25, 2017 @ 2:00 PM
$18 Holy Trinity Edmonton

The Village of the Fringed opening night with #YEGprov

I attended the Village of the Fringed opening ceremonies yesterday for my birthday. This is another new thing I have tried. While I am a long time fringer, I usually wait until the reviews start popping up to pick and choose what I want to see.

I think a little back story is necessary. Fringe is a noun or a verb. Basically it is a collection of venues that host a play/improve/theatrical experience that you go and watch. The old days, one would fringe by standing in line for a mystery venue and taking a chance on a show. You bought your tickets at the door. Now you buy your tickets at the box office ( a tent in front of the Strathcona’s Farmer’s Market) or purchase them on-line. They still sell tickets at the door, but don’t hold as many. Edmonton hosts Canada’s largest Fringe Festival. This year is the 31st Fringe here in River City. I started going in 1988 when I was making cash and could pay the open shows or the closed venues.

My first show I saw in 1988 was with my sister. I took her to see The Arrogant Worms. We are still fans and have passed their comic genius down to our children. Everyone has the Worm’s music on the rotation in their iPods. My favorite is Canada is Really Big or Let’s Go Bowling. I knew The Pirates on the River Saskatchewan before Captain Tractor did it and actually, The Worms wrote it. I haven’t seen the Arrogant Worms in YEARS they have to be old like me and perhaps the Fringe Tour is just exhausting. Fringe performers are basically homeless and live out of their suitcase. It would be a tough gig year after year. Yet I see the same performers came back for a few years in a row!

This time we watched the Fringe Parade of Stars. I have no idea if that is what it is called but you lineup along the alley/gravel road behind the main venues and watch the performers walk in costume handing out handbills and sometimes cookies, all in an effort to entice you to see their show.I met a Hippo that spoke with a French Accent, luckily I also can speak with a French accent so there was no language barrier. I met a very excited dude from Orlando Florida who was excited that he saw snow twice while flying over the mountains from Vancouver. He was jumping and so excited to be here. I met a guy from Brooklyn and another who just said New York, a fellow with a Russian accent from Edmonton and a drag queen who kept saying it felt like a protest not a parade. I met sister wives for a polygamist show and weird creepy dudes from a show called Suicide a Love Story.

I was offered free tickets to see the shows by some performers so I could review and promote their shows. Sadly I had pre-purchased tickets for the family so I couldn’t take up the actors on these freebies! I needed to carefully select the show my family was seeing. When you Fringe, you never know what you might get, from blood and guts to nudity and actually sex on stage. The Edmonton Fringe  does not jury or censor artists’ work in any way and selects performances using an unbiased lottery system. Therefore there is risk involved. I would ask the performers if it was suitable for my kids, The Syphilus show guy was honest and said there was no nudity or swearing but the content was obvious. The Beef lady was also honest and said it may not be appropriate but I was welcome to see it without them. That is the plan. Go Fringing without children…maybe. But then I got them hooked on Improv.

After the Parade of Stars, complete with a Flag barer (it was just like the Olympics!), we walked from the Fringe site to a BYOV ( Bring your own venue) site down on 109 street. BYOV means the show finds their own venue, arranges a price (usually free) and sells tickets to their show. Often there isn’t an extra site charge and the Fringe has student pricing! (FYI I love being a student for this reason!) We were seeing #yegprov, a twitter improv experience.

While waiting outside for the venue to open, I recognized a fellow – or thought I did. I asked him if we met in the park over the summer. He said wait…. pulled out his phone and gave the details of our meeting. It made my family crazy because I know everyone. Being opening night, the audience was sparse, people like to wait because we all have a limited budget for shows. $13 is reasonable but it starts to add up quickly if you see everything!

We sat near the front because improv is all about engaging the audience. We provide the non-geographical location, a famous monument, the name of your first crush and so forth. The spin on this improv was twitter. There is an at home game you all can participate in this week just follow #yegprov. The audience was asked to tweet their suggestions alternating with shout-outs. As with all improv, the stories can go south pretty quickly but for the most part this show was seriously fun! Genetic Offspring is a improv vet and participates in NAIL (Northern Alberta Improv League) He was please to have learned two new games to bring back to his improv team. We laughed hard and sometimes groaned, but all agreed this was tremendous fun. We plan on checking Rapid Fire Theatre group for their take on improv and perhaps see if we can find another improv group or two. Better yet, go back and play with the #yegprov group again, or at the very least, playing the home game.

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So you want to be a Zombie…

The thought has never crossed my mind before. Never once have I thought it would be swell to be a Zombie.I was the person yelling at the screen “DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!” Did those actors ever listen to me? No.

Then I got a text.

It was from new friend I met on a Board of Directors I sit on. I offered to help with stuff that needs done for a parade we are going to be in and out of the blue she texts…. So, you want to come to Zombie class tonight?

Gone are the days when my automatic answer is no. So I said sure! Let this day go down in history. I signed up for Zombie class.

I always had a secret fantasy to dance and sing on Broadway. Here I was in a sweaty hot old gym with hardwood floors and reflective windows that could be a mirror if I imagined it to be. I was living the dream….

I was nervous, having never been a Zombie before and I was in a room with professional zombies. I listened carefully to my instructions. Before I knew it, I was doing the first 4 sequences to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I am not a Jackson esq. dancer by any means, but I can see me rockin’ it out like Jen Garner in 13 Going on 30. I could hear the music in my head and count the steps off to myself. Here is a clip of us. I am the one in the fabulous striped dress

Okay so maybe I just feel like that when I dance. But I likely look like this:

 

We have a 6 week deadline. The purpose is to be a Zombie Thiller Dancer for the Kaleido 2012 Family Arts Festival. Think of it as Flash Mob Zombie.

I think every single one of my friends should come. Why? It is more fun then I thought it would be. It is open to anyone who wants to give it a try. Apparently being coordinated isn’t very zombie-like so mistakes are better. Practices are 1 hour twice a week, email me for details.

Seriously, what else you got going on this summer that you can’t be a Zombie for the Kaleido Festival? It will be fun, I dare you. If you aren’t going to join me, buy a boat.

Zombies can’t swim…but I can Muaaahahahahahaha

Do a Little Dance…Get Down Tonight!

KC and the Sunshine Band (album)
Image via Wikipedia

My day started out BAD. Then it became worse. I even cursed at work. Not usually like me, no clients were around – just a colleague, but still… not a proud moment. Then, like a ray of sunshine in walked one of those Angels, the kind that fixes everything, kisses the boo boo better, and makes the world all right once more. I am grateful she appeared and is staying for a while. So off I went to do my work with a little tune in my head to keep me happy.

I sat at the desk, typing away, answering messages, checking emails when the Angel appeared again and looked at me oddly. I looked up from the desk, met her gaze with a quizzical look and gave her my best Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor “Aaarroooo?” And she said “what are you listening too?”

You mean you can’t hear the music in my head? So the strange desk dance must seem odd. You see I was singing and dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band in my head. This always helps me focus, complete my tasks in a timely fashion and makes me happy. Not necessarily KC, but some other happy song always works. I come from a long line of head singers. No I don’t mean LEAD singers, HEAD singers is exactly what I mean.

I would walk into the kitchen as a kid to witness my mother in a “shakin’ her bootie” moment. Her music of choice was something from American Graffiti. I would jump in beside her, and we would dance to absent music, only available in our heads. Not cool dancing either. The kind of dork dancing that makes everyone laugh. Often my sister would join in, only she was so little, we would pick her up and twirl. Her giggles were infectious. Before long we were all doing the Happy Dance and laughing until our sides hurt.

The only way I can properly describe the Dork Dance or Happy Dance is this: please visualize Muppets dancing with their mouths open and arms flailing about. That is as close as I can describe to how cool we looked. The kicker being, this could happen anywhere. No location on the planet is to obscure or off limits. We have done the Happy Dance on Main Street USA in Disneyland. I have watched my sister Happy Dance in Paris at the age of three where countless Japanese tourists took a video her. We  even Happy Danced at my Grandfather’s funeral last year, honoring his Old Man Dance. Nothing is sacred, if you need to be happy, DANCE!

I have carried on the time honored tradition and corrupted my children. We all stopped one day in the middle of Sobey’s parking lot to Happy Dance. I cannot tell you what we were celebrating, but I do remember saying “Happy Dance!” everyone froze in their tracks and we all danced.

Tonight when I came home from work, Genetic Offspring was pretty excited about the new series “Hawaii Five-O” starting. I sang the first five notes, and suddenly the Happy Dancing started! Chatterbox and I carried it on the longest.

I must say dancing is the quickest way to cure what ails you.

Last year I forgot about dancing. I was just too wrapped up in stuff that bogged me down. So listen up fellow tourists!

Eat, Drink and most of all Dance.

Because silly makes the stress go away.

There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.  ~Edwin Denby