It was a cold November night, and the weekend was looking pretty bleak, even though the Grey Cup was coming up on Sunday afternoon. That looked particularly bleak to me, don’t get me wrong, I love football, but this year’s western contender, well; let me say that once Gail and I found ourselves at Stage West things certainly brightened up!
Running from November 14th to February 2nd, this show will please everyone, even non music lovers – if you’ve ever listened to the radio you’ll know almost every selection, and this one contains over fifty very familiar songs, complete with costumes and amazing choreography.
After Gail and I “fooded up” (Gail’s term and more on that later), the ten performers of the ensemble appeared on the stage and right from the start it was energy! From the O’Jays, Love Train, which transitioned into Lee Dorsey’s Working In A Coal Mine, and it never stopped. We were treated to hits from Chuck Berry, The Temptations, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard – I do have to say that when Andrew Broderick appeared on the stage dressed as Little Richard he was so cute that I wished I could keep him. Most fun and my favorite was an energizing rendition of Shout (the Isley Brothers); the audience appeared to share my sentiments as the whole theatre was in motion. So many artists were represented, Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, The Temptations, The Chiffons, Gladys Knight and the Pips – it was fun remembering seeing those acts on TV with the dancing men/backup singers in matching suits.
Now, there was a period of time (musically) that is probably best forgotten, but many of us suffered through it – have you guessed yet? That’s right, I’m talking about Disco! This part of the performance held some comic relief, I don’t think the six men on the stage were very happy with their costumes – they kind of gave that away… But, being the professionals that they obviously are, we heard from KC and the Sunshine Band, Sister Sledge, and Kool and The Gang, and who doesn’t love a huge afro?
Moving to more modern times, we were treated to selections from Boyz II Men, Prince, Beyonce, and an amazing rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You by Aurianna Angelique – a girl with an amazing talent for both song and dance.
Finally, the King and Queen of Soul: James Brown and Aretha Franklin, you must remember Respect and Chain of Fools, and Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag. The ten performers in the Ensemble provided us, the audience with amazing energy and enthusiasm, and they sustained it throughout the show. Gail mentioned that her husband would never have been able to remain in his chair had he been there!
Now, as promised, the buffet!! Once again the chefs at Stage West have outdone themselves, I had never tried Japanese seaweed salad before and I’ll never pass it up again. I also loved the Caribbean Jerk Chicken, the huge cold shrimp, the tempura asparagus salad rolls, and if you go, you must try the roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon sugar; those were Gail’s favorite, too. Stage West is kind enough to identify common food allergies like gluten, dairy and nuts, which is probably a huge help to people who suffer from those. Then we fooded up again with dessert(s), red velvet cake, chocolate mousse in a shooter glass (good thing, too!), rum balls, chocolate dipped profiteroles, so yummy! By the end of the intermission it was all I could do to eat the last of my chocolate dipped florentines, but I did it! Stage West was definitely the high point of the weekend. I think everybody should go and enjoy an evening there, and soon!