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Review of Theatre Orangeville’s An Affair of the Heart

February 18, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

If it works well, always make it a bit better seems to be the philosophy, as Theatre Orangeville’s An Affair of the Heart online shows welcome audiences. Running now until Feb. 25, this show is filled with songs of romance, Shakespeare’s lovers’ sonnets, a love story in dance and Debbie Collins making us laugh.

Nicolas Mustapha is on deck at the Grand piano, primarily as accompanist.

Derek Marshall opens the entertainment, elegant in his tux, a crooner for these times. He brings those smooth songs that never grow old, singing them the way they were meant to be sung. Echoes of Sinatra, Dean Martin – maybe Sammy Davis Jr. Romance is firmly in the air with Nice ‘N Easy [Does It]– “hold on to your horses” and take your time to enjoy.

A tidy contrast is Trevor Patt, casual with his guitar to sing a James Taylor song, that fine voice of his giving a different feel to Something in the Way She Moves. Great to see Trevor return and he was thrilled to be back on a stage singing.

What a lovely way to recite two Sonnets by Shakespeare with Robin Schisler and Nigel Shawn Williams: a combination of his Sonnets 18 and 127.

Seated they two on a park bench on a wintery day and he poses the Bard’s question, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate,” he tells her.

Like a face in a dream, she tells us, “In the old age black was not counted fair, Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name; But now is black beauty’s successive heir…” 

So, they pass the verses back and forth and it is all charm, the placement of each in the video, how they speak the words, how they finish. Delightful.

It is a thrill to see Leslie Arden here at Theatre Orangeville, great Canadian composer, lyricist and librettist that she is. She sings and plays her music, Nothing Can Prepare You. This beautiful song is from her musical, The House of Martin Guerre, for which she wrote the music and lyrics. The Book was by Leslie Arden and Anna T. Cascio.

The Citizen learned earlier that this is the first time Ms. Arden has sung this song herself for the public and it is wonderful to watch the creator of this powerful piece perform it. 

The House of Martin Guerre won three Dora Mavor Moore Awards in Toronto (among which for Best Musical) and six Joseph Jefferson Awards in Chicago (also including Best Musical).

Nicolas Mustapha, accompanist for some of the performers, takes to the Grand piano for a solo to play Henry Mancini’s arrangement of The Days of Wine and Roses. Nicolas is at heart a jazz musician, although his repertoire goes further afield. This piece is so right for him, it is lovely to hear and watch.

From the sublime to the funniest comes our own Debbie Collins, as her own invention, Margaret McFarland, featuring an accent that is well-mixed, a bit like the pudding she makes, the Spotted Dick without the spots, so, just a Dick – don’t try this at home.

Ms. Collins, speaking to us from her home, her dog included in the picture, regales and confuses us to our great enjoyment, with tales and advice, quite non-informative and very funny – thank you so much, Margaret McFarlane – you’re a joy.

Dereck Marshall returns to the front, Nicolas Mustapha in the background, with his second golden oldie, Across the Sea, so nicely swinging, you might like to roll up the carpet and dance.

From Trevor Patt, a grand rendition of It All Fades Away [but You] from the musical Bridges of Madison County, his guitar and Nicolas on the piano, just enough to provide interest to the accompaniment. Really beautifully done.

Leisa Way, stunning in a fabulous dress to the floor, has blended two contrasting Moon songs, No Moon at All and Old Devil Moon, with such finesse and her delivery speaks to her very considerable talent. Passionate and kind, this musical melange, like so much of Ms. Way’s performances, leaves an impression that does not fade at its end.

Nicolas comes back to us with a song to sing, playing his own accompaniment, I love You for Sentimental Reasons and looks us straight in the eye as he says it. Just great.

The grand finale to all this romance and talent is the dance and mime vignette, assembled by Roland Kirouac to perform with his sweetheart of so many years, Sandra. They spin and dance the tale of their meeting and long life of love. It is a remarkable feature in its creativity and artistry. Dance has been Roland Kirouac’s professional life, all his life and something he and his wife have shared over the years.

As a tribute to a show about love, this ties it all together – not only do Roland and Sandra Kirouac dance for their own life’s story but as a celebration of love itself.

Good to the last drop, this is too good to miss: for your virtual ticket, go to www.theatreorangeville.ca or call the Box Office at 519-941-3423.



         

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