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Theatre Orangeville’s Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay: review

May 5, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Just when we badly needed a break and a boost, Leisa Way and her Wayward Wind Band bring us Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Stay at Theatre Orangeville, on now and running to May 15.

What a hoot and a walk down Memory Lane or a musical history lesson this show is. The talent is tops, of course. All of Ms. Way’s other shows have been great entertainment and her band are seasoned professionals who have been in the business for years, on famous stages, with famous artists. 

Into this mix comes Tyler Check and Adam Koopmans, each a ball of fire and talent to match but much younger. They joined the band for at least the summer tours and their first meeting to begin rehearsals for Rock n Roll came rather soon before opening night. With exactly the right energy, talent and enthusiasm, the collaboration of the new members with the old gang has brought us a show to raise the heritage roof of the historic Opera House.

Written by Ms. Way and the music arrangements by Bruce Ley, weaving medleys through the production, we are treated to a goodly list of soloists and bands who bring us through the musically important story of Rock n Roll. The opening number is Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley, which stars in the memorabilia of early Rock to this day.

Tyler Check brings out Elvis, shaking his leg and gyrating his hips in tribute to the King. So much fun. Keeping the pace with the Angels, Little Richard and Chuck Berry – sounds like old history and it is but the music kept its soul and what is sung today remembers, whether the fans realize it or not.

That secret in the heart of Rock is what makes this show as wonderful as it is. Going back to the jazz of the 20’s and 30’s, turbulent times shaking the world then too, the foundations were laid down for “popular” music that evolved in a very profound and rapid way from the music of the previous centuries with their more structured compositions.

Jazz, the origins of which spring – as humanity does – from the depths of African jungles and the poor wretches hauled in cruel ships to North America brought that deep rhythm with them, sung it across the cotton fields until, one distant day it was being played in ballrooms and jazz clubs around the world. This is the backdrop to Rock n Roll and Leisa Way calls on the musicians and writers of the ’50’s to the ’80’s to stir the audience to nearly go dancing in the aisles, with the utter joy those beats inspire. 

We did sing along lots of times, as Covid protocols prohibited the dance.

Leisa Way with her usual flurry of a dozen dazzling costumes several with sparkling sequins, comes on to sing Tina Turner in a duet with Adam Koopmans.

One of Mr. Koopmans’ biggest contributions to the show is his fabulous guitar playing, his stunning riffs that punctuate the space between stanzas, rip the air and bring us into the action with our applause.

Two of the medleys take in collections from The Beatles and the Beach Boys. The Canadian medley goes through our own rockers such as BTO (Bachman-Turner Overdrive), Alannah Myles, the Guess Who and others, all a good blend of familiar songs and some of the history that brought them on to the charts. The singers of the entire band switch the music among them, so smooth is every transition from one song to the next.

We have introduced the new comers, Tyler Check and Adam Koopmans.

Playing with Leisa for some years are arranger, Bruce Ley (piano and guitar), Bobby Prochaska (lead vocal, piano and guitar) and Don Reid on drums. Each of these gentlemen have been touring with Leisa Way for several years, creating a true sense of family amongst them. 

Bruce Ley is a composer for many television shows and scored the Academy nominated film, The Painted Door. As a blues artist, Mr. Ley has been lead guitar with the award-winning Trouble and Strife Blues Band and is in high demand with his own jazz- based Bruce Ley Trio. Mr. Ley is – in many ways to his own surprise, a painter of very interesting and other-worldly paintings.

Bobby Prochaska is all about the music and theatre. He has spent his life performing with his own band, Silent C, as well as a number of well-known musicians, like Selina Martin and Danny Williams. Mr. Prochaska has performed as an actor in film and television and on stage in live theatre on (the other) Broadway, across Canada and the US.

One crazy evening saw him jamming with a group of musicians that included Paul McCartney!

Don Reid has travelled far and wide across North America as a professional musician, working with bands and groups, the Old Chicago’s Blues Band and The Georgian Sound Big Band just to mention a couple. He has a long list of theatre credits of which he performed in Memories of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline and Blue Suede Shoes.

Mr. Reid is a certified Reflexologist since 1996 and music director of the Trinity Band at St Mary’s church (Collingwood).

In the second half of this two- hour show (with the intermission), we were treated to the best of the music of British and American bands and solo singers. Among them, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Ms. Way singing Desperado by the Eagles, Mr. Check pulling out Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, others – medleys with Bohemian Rhapsody – We will Rock You. And, by George – they did rock us!

This is a great show with a chance to live stream it this Saturday, May 7 and running in the theatre until May 15. The show will be recorded and become part of the library of entertainment Theatre Orangeville holds as their StageTOScreen program.

For all the details and tickets go to www.theatreorangeville.ca or call the kind people at the Box Office at 519-942-3423.



         


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