Review by Danny Gaisin
Recollection can be a blissful sensation. Seeing a carefully restored old motorcar stirs ancillary memories of places and people I associate with a 50’s Chevy Belair; Desoto hemi-head; Mercury Montclair; or Ford Fairlane. Songs also bestir memories and THEATRE ANCASTER’s production that tributes those ONE HIT WONDERS) is more than just a romp through six musical decades. No plot-line, but projected video excerpts or TV interviews offer additional mental stimulants. The result is a satisfying evening’s entertainment highlighting forty songs that bestowed the proverbial 15 minutes of fame for their performers.
One super-positive note; director Angela Broadley did NOT subject us to that epitomic O.H.W. – “You light up my life” a truly definitive piece of boredom by Debby Boone! Other creative highlights are certainly the myriad costumes appropriate for the piece being staged and undeniably intricate chorus numbers. Broadley and her actors attempt to confer the essence of each composition without purely mimicking the original. The pace is rapid without being frenetic and the intervals are amazingly brief. Surprisingly omitted; David Soul’s “Don’t give up on us, Baby”; Eric Carmen’s “All by myself”; and Los Lobos- LA BAMBA. The latter has become a notable show-stopper.
The hits selected have some standout arrangements and performers. This scribe was especially taken with “I will still love you” performed by Adam French. Another noticeable moment was John Mamone’s take on The Tempo’s “See You in September”. The duo of Andrea Rees & Stacey Bishop contribute a powerful rendition of the Women’s Lib anthem “I Will Survive” originally recorded by Gloria Gaynor. The 1970 hit “Love Grows” is sung by Ralf Hachenberg in an obviously motivated reading. The emotional Samantha Sang ’78 tune ‘Emotion’ is emotionally delivered by Chantal Barrow.
Subtle pieces of Broadley’s direction are the encaptualizing of period styles i.e. the peripatetic ambulating of Barry Gibb’s ants-in-pants-ism throughout a performance; or the occasional Bee Gee’s falsetto intervals. Her usage of the ‘upcoming’ generation of Ancaster talent venerating the original kids not only mirrors but contributes youthful enthusiasm to the evening. The four-piece combo is visually located at stage right-rear and some members are occasional forefront performers. The lighting mirrors special effects appurtenances that became endemic top the pop genre. Unfortunately, most of these are aimed at the audience rather than the performers on stage. Hint: bring sunglasses; the Klieg’s™ can hurt retinas.
One constructive critical note to Madame Director: – Some of your chorus dancers seem unable to crack even a semblance of a smile. An amazing figure and terpsichorean talent are not quite enough for theatre. ONE HIT WONDERS will be on stage until April 25th. Call 905-304-7469