To parryphrase Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the greatest English Romantic poets of the 19th century and as penned in his timeless Ode to the West Wind, ‘Oh, if winter comes to Hudson, can spring be far behind?’ Well, take heart. For the official start of spring is just weeks away. On March 20 to be exact. And what an exciting and exhilarating season it will surely be here at Hudson Village Theatre now in its 26th year and with a lineup of shows with an international flair that will send your spirit soaring and cause you to forget for perhaps what, for you, may have been your winter of discontent..
Classy Klaasens In Concert
Which is certainly the case, and still on the international scene — more specifically South Africa — when HVT is thrilled to welcome back for the third time legendary Montreal-based world music singer and Juno Award Winner, Lorraine Klaasen on March 8, which just happens to be International Women’s Day, for her truly inspirational concert, Personal Memories of South Africa.
Accompanied by Mongezi Ntakam, Lorraine who was born and raised in Soweto, South Africa, told HVT that her concert will spotlight Township Memories with music penned by Busi Mhlongo and in the traditional South African Maskanda musical style. Filled with form of expression of the agony, ecstasy, pain and sorrow of the trials and ironies of life in today’s South Africa.
On a personal note, I still remember seeing Lorraine in concert — not only at HVT but also at St.Thomas Aquinas Church in Hudson a few years ago now — when she sang with her late Mom, jazz singer Thandi Klassen. Both reputed to be two of Nelson Mandela’s favourite musicians. Truly inspirational! Click here for tickets and information
Marvellous Harry Manx
And now from East to West and, to be perfectly honest, to a word that I have never heard before. Mysticssippi. But that’s the one coined to describe Montreal-based blues man Harry Manx who has also been described as an ‘essential link’ between the music of East and West, creating musical short stories that wed the tradition of the blues with the depth of classical Indian ragas. Truly unique, he has created a one-of-a-kind sound that is hard to forget and deliciously addictive to listen to.
He is also a prolific artist, releasing 12 albums in a 12 year span with no signs of stopping, and he has received seven Maple Blues Awards, six Juno nominations, the Canadian Folk Music Award in 2005 for Best Solo Artist and won CBC Radio’s Great Canadian Blues Award back in 2007.
Manx will be making his first ever appearance at HVT on April 25. Definitely a show not to be missed. No matter what direction you are coming from! Click here for tickets and information.
Fantastic Lineup From Fleming
Meanwhile, I’m really excited — and I’m sure you will be too — about this year’s slate of three critically-acclaimed plays being staged HVT’s new Artistic Director, Dean Patrick Fleming, for his 2019 debut season. I caught up with him recently and just had to ask, “What do you consider when selecting plays for HVT?” Answered Dean, without missing a beat, “At the core of everything is humour. I think laughter is what joins us at the theatre. It’s not only an equalizer that makes the audience feel like one unit therefore removing barriers we put up, but it also opens everyone up to feel. In some ways, laughter takes our guard down. So if the play didn’t make me laugh, it was off the list.”
Added Dean, “That said, a play needs to do more than just make us laugh. And I also looked for great stories. Great characters that our audience can identify with. Plays written by great writers that would entice great actors and that I could be excited to direct.”
And here’s the lineup.
The Drawer Boy
The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey from July 3 through 21. Winner of the Governor General’s Award for Best Play, Chalmers Award, and multiple Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding New Play, it is a beautifully written work that uses a fantastic sense of humour to draw us into a story that will sneak up on the audience and captivate them completely. It features a young actor from Toronto who asks two farmers for a trade. Namely, working in exchange for a room and board and sharing their stories.
Says Dean, “It isn’t often you read a play and can’t put it down because you get to know the characters so well that you can’t wait to see what they say and do next. They make you laugh and, before you know it, your are implicated in their lives. Indeed, I think this is one of the best plays I’ve ever read.”
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Nominated for a Governor General’s Award, Marion Bridge by Daniel MacIvor on stage August 7 through 25, sees three sisters reuniting at their childhood home in Cape Breton to care for their mother. As they learn to live with each other after so many years apart, they discover the meaning of family, and the possibility that their lives can be different from what they expected and what they have come to expect. Funny, heart-warming and breathtakingly lyrical, in essence it is the story of three sisters who hold a bitterly comic vigil over their dying Mom.
Says Dean, “I loved this play the first time I read it years ago. Sharing time with three sisters who are completely different but, as we get to know their quirks, we start to see the family and a wonderful bond.”
Bringing On Billy Bishop
October 24th Billy Bishop Goes to War and comes to Hudson Village Theatre. A Canadian musical, one of the most widely produced plays in Canadian theatre, written by John Gray and Eric Peterson, and winner of distinguished awards too numerous to mention here, it dramatizes the life of Canadian World War 1 fighter pilot in word and song. What’s more, it stars Hudsonite Bruce Dinsmore who brings to life over 17 characters in this imaginative, funny, and amazing tale of a most unlikely hero.
Says Dean, “Bruce portrayed Bill Bishop from 1991 to 1997 when Geordie Productions toured the show all over Quebec and Ontario. I was lucky enough to see the show in the intimate Geordie Black Box in 1994 and it has stayed with me all these years. I’m so excited to work with Bruce again, I last directed him in Hudson over a decade ago, and to work on this amazing story. HVT is the perfect place to stage this intimate play and the audience can feel like they are getting a truly personal performance.”
Sharon And Bram Head To HVT
Just before going to press, some really exciting news to share with you. Beloved children’s entertainers, Sharon (Hampson) and Bram (Morrison), better known as Sharon and Bram who have sold over three million albums worldwide and who have been inducted into The Order of Canada, our country’s highest honour, will be right here on the HVT stage for one show only on Saturday, June 1. The very day before they perform at Place des Arts in Montreal as part of their 40th Anniversary Farewell Tour. What a coup to welcome one of North America’s most popular family acts that for the past four decades has been providing simply the very best in participation music for the entire family. And hope to see you there! Click here for tickets and information.
From The Stage to The Page by James Parry