This was outing #6 of the year (following 1 OLT, 2 NAC, 1 hockey game, and 1 Gladstone) to see the NAC Pops show called “80s Mix Tape” with conductor Stuart Chafetz and singers Julie Reiber and Bryce Ryness. The show was a collection of 21 songs from the 1980s performed by the NAC orchestra, with 8 instrumental versions and 13 with lyrics. The full playlist (with two extra songs) is at the bottom.
The show kicked off with the instrumental version of The Final Countdown (Europe), and it was good, but not amazing. A nice light opening. They then went directly into a song with the female singer, Call Me (Blondie). I felt like she was doing a pop lite version of the song, no real grit, and the version I’m used to from Blondie has more deeper tones behind it. Or so I thought. However, you’ll see in the playlist version below, my memory might be off because it isn’t much darker/deeper in tone than the version I heard last night. » Read the rest
My wife and I enjoy the NAC Orchestra shows, particularly the Pops, and if it wasn’t for simple cost and logistics, we’d sign up for them every year. Instead, we pick and choose the shows we want along with some others. With 17 shows across multiple venues, this was outing #2 this year. The theme for the night? The music of John Williams, namely from all his soundtracks of the greatest hits of films.
Up first was the Main Title from Star Wars (1977), and it’s a great blockbuster opening. From there, they slid into Superman March from Superman (1978). Just those two alone would be worth the price of admission for some people, including me.
After that, they went through The Flight to Neverland from Hook (1991), excerpts from Artificial Intelligence (2001), The Cowboys Overture from The Cowboys (1972), and Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). They’re all good, and the Cowboys Overture has that big epic Western feel to it. » Read the rest
My wife and I went to see the show called “The Wedding Party” at the National Arts Centre this past weekend, and I absolutely loved it. It made me fall in love with professional plays again.
Now you may be thinking, what’s not to love? But I confess that I have a bit of a love / hate relationship with the NAC when it comes to plays. Almost every play that I have seen at the NAC, not a huge number admittedly, have been pretty damn good. And all of them were well-acted. The hate part comes from the fundamental challenge that the artistic director faces each year in selecting plays. An interview a few years ago with one of the new appointees noted that they had to choose between material that was easily accessible to all audiences – almost commercial pablum in some cases – or more culturally risky, artistically challenging, creatively provocative offerings. » Read the rest
My wife and I had tickets for the latest NAC Pops show this week, and unlike the odd one last time (NAC Pops – Holiday Swing), this was a bit more their style when it comes to non-orchestral “modern music”. They’ll do Broadway or rock or a host of other “pop” sources for music, stick the orchestra in the back playing the music, and throw some good singers up front. I confess, at times, they bury the orchestra. But it’s still fun.
This one was along that line, with eighteen fantastic songs made popular by female artists. To handle vocals, the program had three female ex-Broadway-calibre performers — Katrina Rose Dideriksen (Hairspray, Rent, Grease, Legally Blonde, etc.), Cassidy Catanzaro (American Songbook, backups for big rock stars, songwriter), and Shayna Steele (Rent, Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar, huge backup opportunities with larger stars, etc.). Katrina is the young relative newbie, Cassidy is a bit older and richer voice, and Shayna is a bit older still with more experience and a more vibrant voice. » Read the rest
Andrea and I went to see one of the National Arts Centre (NAC) Pops series last night entitled “Holiday Swing”. As the name suggests, it is a “swing” / big band version of Christmas music. While the series is almost always a good time, it is much improved when Jack Everly is conducting himself as opposed to designing the overall program for the year. Unfortunately, in that regard, it was not Jack, but Byron Stripling performing as conductor, trumpet, and vocals.
I confess that I’m not a big band aficionado, nor a jazz specialist, and was not familiar with Byron Stripling directly. You can see him online in a popular YouTube video:
His trumpet playing is awesome, but that’s about almost where the kudos end for the evening. The night was so inconsistent, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Overall, there were 14 songs during the night, and the NAC Orchestra was sitting twiddling their thumbs for far too much of the show. » Read the rest