Like many young girls, I loved music and dance and took piano and dance classes as a kid. Ballet was my passion! I spent many happy hours doing pirouettes and grand jete-ing my way around the house to a soundtrack of Tchaikovsky and Hooked on Classics. I simply couldn’t sit still if music was playing, but I didn’t think I’d ever be in a real show! When I was about twelve, my dance teacher encouraged us to try out for the local community theatre amateur production of the musical South Pacific, being mounted by the St. Marys Community Players. I wasn’t sure, I was a bit too young (flat!) to play a sexy nurse, but I was tall and they needed good dancers so I tried out, and was cast in the chorus as a tap-dancing nurse and a swaying Bali H’ai Polynesian dancer. I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, I’d never been in a real show before and the professional director hired from Toronto could be quite intimidating! Could I cut it? Rehearsals were intensive, and you had to be there even if you weren’t in most of the scenes, but I didn’t mind. In fact, I loved watching and listening as the director worked with the actors; the scenes and memorable songs came to life before my eyes. I couldn’t believe how much talent and creativity the members of our small community had kept hidden away with their day jobs, so many beautiful voices and actors with amazing comic timing, alongside talented seamstresses, set painters, and live orchestra musicians. And everyone was so much fun! Our large company (see cast photo) became my temporary family, coaching me, sewing my costumes, adjusting my hair, makeup, and “padding” up top, and checking that my spray-on tan looked authentic! Everyone had a role to play and every detail was important, giving the show authenticity and charm. It was awe-inspiring to see all the disparate parts come together and the players transformed in that memorable show. I’ll never forget being out there on stage, singing and tap dancing my heart out through the “Honey Bun” number and swaying in my lei to the haunting ballad “Bali Ha’i”. Being part of this unique group, performing for a rapt and enthusiastic packed-house audience for our run of shows, was one of the most memorable adventures of my youth, and gave me a great appreciation for performers. I’ve loved taking in live performances of all kinds ever since. After all these years, I still remember most of the words to all the songs and occasionally in a burst of spontaneity will belt out “Some Enchanted Evening” or another catchy number from those days when I ventured on stage.
St. Marys Community Players is still going strong!
Community-building through music.
Where there is a will and a place made for creativity, the arts can flourish and change the world. My recent personal experience singing with Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir!, even just for a few months, has shown me this is true. The arts can open our eyes and hearts in so many ways, bringing people together in a creative cause. Music, for me, is especially emotional and powerful; singing in three-part harmony as part of a group is not only fun and therapeutic regardless of your ability, but the good vibes spread far beyond those nights in the back room of Clinton’s bar, creating new friendships, memories and inspiration about what’s possible to achieve as a group coming together.
Through music, C!C!C! is a force for good, enriching the lives of the Choir members and our communities. Whether it’s simply by making people smile as they stop to listen on nights that Choir takes their harmonies outside to Bloor Street West, or by cheering on a Choir member who is inspired by all the love in the room to propose to his beloved partner right then and there, or by pulling off large community Choir nights to raise funds for charitable causes, Choir! Choir! Choir!’s music inspires good-will and more caring, supportive communities — and we could all use more of that in our lives.
Recently, more than $60,000 was raised by Choir! Choir! Choir! to support a Syrian refugee family coming to Toronto. And, just announced today, the Choirmasters have orchestrated a major tribute in memory of Prince at Massey Hall that will benefit Regent Park School of Music as well as Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall’s Share the Music program. Amazing! Kudos to C!C!C!’s charismatic leaders Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman (aka DaBu) for giving Toronto Choir! Choir! Choir!. I’m amazed at what can happen when people come together to share a creative endeavour. It’s a privilege to be even a small part of the harmony.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
The wonder and awe I experienced as a spectator watching my first live theatre performance happened when I was about eight or so, and it made a huge impression. It was a production of Anne of Green Gables at the Huron Country Playhouse, a wonderful, intimate summer theatre in a converted barn near Grand Bend, Ontario. I remember having a hard time believing at first that those were real live people up there on stage! But they were! How could they get up in front of so many people and remember all those lines? The actors and set design captivated me and my eyes were opened to the magic and creativity of live theatre. What’s your favourite memory of an eyeopening arts experience?