A musical, a rhapsody and a piano

 

Two of Windsor’s leading cultural organizations – Windsor Light Music Theatre and the Windsor Symphony Orchestra – shared the spotlight at sold-out events over last weekend.

Mamma Mia!, Windsor Light’s fall production – its 136th since 1948 – opened at the Chrysler Theatre to packed houses, and continues with four more shows this Friday through Sunday, Nov. 24-26.

Windsor Symphony unveiled its newest acquisition, a Steinway grand piano, last Saturday at the Capitol Theatre.
Guest pianist Alain Lefevre delivered a flawless performance of Rhapsodie Romantique by the late Quebec composer, Andre Mathieu.

This is a work that has been largely ignored since Mathieu’s death in the 1960s. But Lefevre has been championing it in performances during Canada’s 150th anniversary year. It’s a marvellous melange of colourful musical language that requires virtuoso playing from both the soloist and the orchestra.

While he was compared favourably with Rachmaninoff in his lifetime, Mathieu was all but forgotten until Lefevre took up his cause in recent years.

The new Steinway, with its resonance and shimmering clarity, was the ideal vehicle, and Lefevre, who is one of Canada’s pre-eminent soloists, captured every nuance of the work.

As for Windsor Light’s Mamma Mia!, the audience had to brave cold and wet weather over the weekend, but they were warmed quickly by the familiar music of ABBA.

Under director Chris Hickman, the cast responded with blue-sky enthusiasm.

Janet Dixon-Snaden, as Donna, the Mamma of the title, is a standout in her third appearance with Windsor Light. Her rendition of The Winner Takes It All in the second act, particularly, brought tears to many in the audience last Saturday.

Also outstanding are Elena Holowitz as Sophie and Brian Yeomans as Sam.

Windsor Light has added an extra matinee performance on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m., due to high ticket demand. But tickets may still be hard to come by. Check out windsorlight.com just in case.

Don’t smoke the red weed! CKLW offers a pre-Halloween fright fest

 

On Monday, October 30 at 9 p.m., CKLW-AM (800) will play trick-or-treat in a live broadcast of War of the Worlds, the H.G Wells science-fiction classic.
The original radio adaptation by Orson Welles in 1938 was presented as a news flash and sent shock waves throughout the United States. Scores of listeners panicked, thinking a Martian horde had actually invaded and were sucking people’s blood.
The CKLW production is the work of Windsor’s adventurous Sho Art, Spirit and Performance space on Monmouth Rd. It has been directed by Matt Maenpaa, and features several local theatre people, including Patty Handysides, Bob Steele, Jeff Bastien, and Peter Hrastovec.
For $100, you can view the performance at 628 Monmouth, then take in an after-party at Vermouth Lounge. Blood cocktails are strictly optional.
Call 226-345-7104.

 

A nod from Variety

Windsor International Film Festival (Oct. 30-Nov. 5) has been recognized, if in a small way, by the world’s most important entertainment newspaper, Variety.

In a recent issue, Variety reported that WIFF will present a lifetime achievement award to Hollywood actress, Lois Smith, on Saturday, Nov. 4. This is the second such award handed out by WIFF – the first, in 2014, honoured Canadian-born director Norman Jewison.

Smith’s career spans more than six decades, starting with East of Eden in 1955. She later appeared in such major hits as Five Easy Pieces (1970), Twister (1996), and Minority Report (2002). Her latest is this year’s Marjorie Prime, which will be screened Nov. 4 along with the award presentation.

For a complete list of titles and times, go to windsorfilmfestival.com.

 

Mr. Chill’s gold standard

Kelly Hoppe, aka Mr. Chill, brings his harmonica to the Capitol Theatre stage, Oct. 28 and 29, in a performance of Canadian classic songs by guest artist Heather Bambrick and the Windsor Symphony at the second Toldo Pops concerts of 2017-2018.
Listen for Hoppe’s skills, accompanied by WSO’s Peter Wiebe on guitar, in a rendition of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold. Tickets at boxoffice@windsorsymphony.com , 519-973-1238.

 

Remembrance Day

Windsor Classic Chorale (windsorclassichorale.org) will perform Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man mass at a pair of Remembrance Day concerts, Nov. 10 at All Saints’ Church in Windsor, and Nov. 11 at St. Andrew’s Church in Chatham.
Bruce Kotowich is the WCC conductor. The choir is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season.

 

The Dears return

For nearly six years, they were The Dears departed.
Now the Montreal indie band, slimmed down to a duo, has resurrected itself and will play Windsor’s Phog Lounge, Nov. 17. Tickets $15 advance, $20 at the door (phoglounge.com).
The Dears were among the first of several remarkably innovative independent acts to emerge from Montreal’s music scene in the 1990s. They helped lay the foundation for acts like Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson, The Stills, and Stars.
Despite releasing a promising debut, End of a Hollywood Bedtime Story, in 2000, it would take another three years to follow it up with No Cities Left. Three more years went by before Gang of Losers came out.
Finally, after a revolving-door of 17 members since 1995, husband-and-wife team, Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak, bounced back in 2015 with Times Infinity, Volume One. They released Times Infinity, Volume Two, this year, and are returning to native soil in November after a tour of Europe and the U.K.