Entertainment

THEATRE REVIEW: This Universe is timeless, man

Taylor Wacey performs Hey Jude in the Vernon Community Music School Glee Club’s production of Across the Universe at Powerhouse Theatre. - Kora Vanderlip
Taylor Wacey performs Hey Jude in the Vernon Community Music School Glee Club’s production of Across the Universe at Powerhouse Theatre.
— image credit: Kora Vanderlip

When I find myself in times of trouble,  there’s one band’s music that seems to speak to me. And it’s been a long time since I gave them a listen, until the Vernon Community Music School Glee Club’s latest production hit the stage.

The words are all sung throughout this show, and the lyrics come from (no argument) one of the greatest bands of all time — The Beatles.

The show, which is playing to three-sold-out audiences at the Powerhouse Theatre this weekend, including today, could even put Scrooge in a good mood.

However, those attending should not  expect the music to sound the way it was recorded it in its heyday. Instead, the glee club members offer varied interpretations of The Beatles’ songs, so inspired by the 2007 film Across The Universe.

And it really works. This music is so timeless, you could add a dubstep to it, and it would still resonate.

In this case, the group has opted to either slow down some of the numbers, as in I Want to Hold Your Hand,  a beautifully sung ballad performed by Danica Hardy, or done as a rousing call-to-arms mind trip as in Happiness is a Warm Gun, featuring soloist Taylor Wacey, whose Hey Jude, also had the audience up in arms — in applause.

Although there were a few pitch problems — and I mean, very few, considering this particular group just got together  in September, with only  some members performing on stage before — their love of singing was evident.

With 26 numbers, it would be hard to mention them all. However, I will say there  was emotion, drama, and humour. What more could you ask for?

Anytime you get a shirtless peacenik with a six-pack (Paul Lawson) singing I am the Walrus (She’s So Heavy), you can’t help but smile. Uncle Sam, clad in a stars and stripes top hat (made even taller by Marv Friesen) had us grinning at the almost sultry interpretation of I Want You. Then there was Clive Goodrich’s mystical and mesmerizing rant for the Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, complete with dancing horse, bobbing Blue Meanies, and a ballerina on a bouncing trampoline.

What a strange trip that was!

One of the most touching numbers, Let it Be, featured a solo by young Lynley Gordon-Mason (as a homeless waif), with Lori Hancock backed by gospel-style choir, The Scarborough Faire Women’s Chorus. Hallelujah, sisters!

Vernon’s own Darby Mills, of Headpins fame, stormed the stage with Don’t Let Me Down, the perfect song for her raspy, reach-the-rafters voice.

Those numbers were off-set by lovely ballads, including Blackbird, sung by Allison Inkpen and accompanied by mandolinist John Phillips, the gorgeously choreographed Something, featuring dancer/choreographer Melea Ward en pointe, and the show’s title track with its harmonious chorus “nothing’s gonna change my world.” Amen to that.

Even the band members — rhythmic guitarist Peter McKillop, lead guitarist Luke Mortensen, bassist Rod Neufeld, keyboardist Elishiva Phillips, and drummer Mike Parent, got in on the act, singing some of the solo parts in fine fashion.

McKillop and Mortensen, in particular, are young talents to look out for.

Special mention also must go to the stage design, with the band highlighted by being perched on top of the main set piece (courtesy of Dave Brotsky, who also did a groovy job on the psychedelic lighting), the clear, crisp and “rejuvenated” sound by Randy “Bones” Jones, and glee club director Therese Parent for reminding us why this music will never die.

 

 

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