Last night the cast of Oh Canada! What a Feeling! A Musical Odyssey enjoyed five standing ovations throughout the show. My husband and I were among them and we both loved the performance. And yes, you should go - because you will end up on your feet as we did. But there is an additional back story as to why this show made me so happy and I need to tell you about it.
Music used to be so important to me. Since becoming a mom, my interest in it has waned. I've kept a finger in the music scene by staying in touch with my music business friends like Martin Melhuish, who I met when I was 17 years-old. I met Marty while working as music librarian at Montreal rock radio station CHOM-FM. He was a rock writer/producer who knew "everyone" in the music business. Not only was he working for Billboard magazine, he was frequently on the road with bands like Supertramp and BTO, even writing books about them. Marty spend a lot of time at CHOM back then as he was also producing a syndicated rock radio show called "The Pringle Program." Long story short, Marty was the coolest (and most understated) guy and he let me shadow him. He generously showed me the ropes and gave me life lessons that stick with me today.
That was over thirty years ago. We're still friends and he's still the coolest guy.
This brings me to the stage production of Oh Canada! What a Feeling! A Musical Odyssey which just kicked off a national tour in Toronto. The show was written by my buddy Marty, based on his book of the same name which lovingly chronicles the history of Canadian rock 'n roll. The concept of the show is simple: pick a bunch of classic Canadian tunes, have incredibly talented musicians and performers bring the songs to life with an entertaining narration to set up each track.
What made this show special for me is that it is unabashedly Canadian; finally a show celebrating our unique quirks and strong cultural talents without apology. Starting the show with the Canadian anthem had the entire audience standing and joining in, making me swell with pride. The string of songs and songwriters captured onstage reminds us of the depth of talent Canada produces. The set list includes these amazing - and CANADIAN songs:
Hallelujah (KD Lang Version) - written by another amazing Canadian, Leonard Cohen
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell version)
Working for the Weekend - Loverboy
My Way - Paul Anka
Everything I Do - Brian Adams
Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane
As much as the songs were the stars of the show, the calibre of performers who interpreted these classic Canadian tracks was surprisingly impressive. Chanelling songsmiths like Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Hank Snow, Loverboy, and KD Lang requires incredible vocal ability and this ecelectic cast did not disappoint. Although there are no recognizable names in the cast, almost every performer received a standing ovation for one of their show stopping numbers.
If you go, you won't be disappointed. if you're around my age, Oh Canada What a Feeling is the musical soundtrack to our lives. Bring your parents, bring your older kids, bring your date. And get ready to rock!