Well, this year’s Revue lives up to the long-standing reputation of fun and entertainment for all! The cast includes some alumni and several new people.
Gordie Sampson – He’s this year’s Musical Director and more than adequate credentials for this demanding post. He is a fantastic musician with drums, guitar, fiddle and keyboards demonstrated last night. He also has worked with some of the top Cape Breton entertainers.
Al Bennett – He’s played and worked on a whole host of musical events and recordings over the span of his time in the entertainment industry.
Howie MacDonald – We’ve seen Howie on stage as fiddler and back up musician for quite a number of years. I’m sure close friends and relatives have seen another side of Howie, which we only got a glimpse of with this year’s Revue! He’s quite a funny man!! And he has a good singing voice! Hey, Elvis!
Dave McKeough – Guitar player extraordinaire!! Just watch his fingers going through the too few solos he gets!
Tom Roach – For those who haven’t seen the Barra MacNeils or Natalie MacMaster over the last few years, this show will introduce you to Tom Roach’s musical abilities. And, as it has with Howie, the Revue taps into another side of him. The unknown was seen and brought out during a couple of non-musical parts. Watch for them!
Lisa MacIsaac – She’s the youngest of this year’s cast, but that belies her talent. Just watch her feet move or her fingers stroke that bow across the strings! She comes from a talented family is going to come into her own soon. As with Natalie in 1991, the Revue is giving her a chance to stretch and grow.
Julie Martell – Young girl, fantastic voice. She’s one who doesn’t need the microphone. Absolutely fabulous lung capacity. She also dances is quite funny on stage. An Accomplished actress as well with an Honours Degree in Musical Theatre.
Maura Lea Morykot – She was in the 1995 Revue, but this year she is quite noticeable. Nice voice, rich in tones and she’s very, very funny.
Richard Burke – He may look young, but his musical abilities are mammoth. He played keyboards, accordion, and sax through the night. Also, he participated in numerous skits and sang several songs.
Maynard Morrison – Cecil’s back!!! This energetic man has been a mainstay of the Revue cast for most of its history. “Cecil” is almost as beloved as “Mary Morrison”. By merely appearing in costume (rubber tire around the waist) and not saying a word, he can bring the house down.
“Juxtaposition” – The traditional Maynard character looking for his job or benefits.
“Christy Campbell / Drunken Landlady” – Lisa MacIsaac was the featured player here. Nicely done with a few quick steps as well.
“Is This Cape Breton or What?” – Imagine a radio program where you are watching the studio where they broadcast. Set with a simple counter/table, some props and a chair, Howie walks on and sits down. The musician’s cue up the radio theme music! Then the fun begins!! I’ve often been entertained by the musical abilities of one Howie MacDonald. However, last night I was treated to the comic abilities of this same person. He’s a pretty famous character, yet here he is acting the part of radio host and several guests. Quite convincingly. And Howie wrote this sketch himself. Wonderful job. The man has many facets which seem to have been totally ignored, ‘til now, including a fascinating ability to make you believe in the person he is playing.
“Another Morning” – Next up is the song recently released on J.P. Cormier’s new CD Another Morning. Maynard did an excellent job on this, with Howie supplying the plaintive tones on his fiddle. This is where we first see just about the entire cast.
“Emergency” – Bette MacDonald created this piece of political satire. Set in the emergency room of a “fictitious” hospital. We see two staff nurses meeting the various patients and commenting on them and their fellow staffers! Stars Maura Lea and Julie.
“Frank” – This is a satire on the “fair game” magazine, Frank! Delightful song. Pokes fun at the magazine and you’re NOT offended! Richard Burke as a Garth Brooks clone along with a western motif. Watch the background singers, Maynard, Julie and Maura Lea.
“Strathlorne” – Matt Minglewood was the special guest and performed this lovely song from the 1991 show, with Natalie’s part played by Howie.
“The Store” – Maynard wrote this about a curmudgeon of a storeowner who, with his wife, Lisa, meet a Texan with his wife, played by Richard and Julie. Enjoy the punch-line.
“The Water is Wide” – This traditional song started off well with Richard Burke. However it seemed to come alive with Julie Martell’s wide open voice starting in the second part!! I had seen her cousin last year, and expected wonderful sounds out of this young lady. I was not disappointed at all! Thanks!
“Down the Broom” – This is another fiddle set starring Lisa MacIsaac and backed up by AL Bennett on guitar and Howie MacDonald on keyboards. Straight out of the tradition.
“Dare to Dream” – Remember the family reunion from hell? Well, imagine if your family included Cecil! Richard Burke’s character found out in this skit that Maynard wrote. Cecil rules!
“Joe Neil” – Last year, the Cape Breton landscape was diminished by the loss of several members of its Gaelic community. One of them was Joe Neil MacNeil. This is a respectful treatment of a man who “was considered Gaidheal gu chùl – A Gael to the backbone”.
ACT TWO started with the musicians playing what might be the funkiest version of Buain Na Rainich I have ever come across! It’s hard to describe. Sort of Celtic tradition meets Mick Jagger or April Wine.
“She the Ocean” – From there we proceeded to a lovely version of this classic Barra MacNeil’s song performed by Maura Lea Morykot, backed up by Gordie Sampson. The vocals were hard to make out last night though so I missed most of the verses.
“Better Than Nothin” – Hilarious! Howie’s character as the TV game show host was the scene stealer. Nothing that Richard r Maynard did through this skit compared to the memorable character portrayed by Howie!!! Tom Roach took part in this skit as well. Well done! Enjoyed it. Maura Lea’s version of the game show hostess was also unforgettable. Julie played the show’s contestant on this Caper version of The Dating Game!
“The Stepping Song” – Mary Jane Lamond recently put this group of tunes on her recording. This was performed by Lisa and Howie along with assistance from most of the cast, but featuring Tom Roach AND Julie Martell. Watch for it! Show stopper!!
“Joseph” – Written by Gordie Sampson and Bruce Sampson, this is a moving ballad. Simply done, it featured Gordie centre stage with a guitar in his lap. Richard provided background vocals.
“Friday Report” – Tom Roach returned to front and centre again with this TV newscaster short of some local news and commentary! What would the Revue do without politicians? (On Saturday night, Tom Roach gave up his spot to special guests Joanne Nugent and Scotty Boyd from local TV stations ATV and ASN.)
“Howie’s Group” – Features none other than Howie MacDonald with two pieces he wrote tied to several traditional pieces.
“Long Way from Texas” – Matt Minglewood came back for another of his favourite songs. He brought with him his own special guest for the keyboards.
“Atlantis” – Maynard back with his character from “Juxtaposition”. He HAD found a job but lost it. Think Zamboni on the street during a winter storm. Anyway, he decides to change careers. Due to the upsurge of Cape Breton entertainers, he decides to write songs. He’s got a DOOZY! Watch for the background singers, especially Lisa!
“The Miner’s Song”/“Seams” – The show would NOT be complete without mention of these famous hardworkers of the island. Richard Burke does a lovely version of this song which was featured on John Allan Cameron’s album Glencoe Station. “Seams” was written and pre-recorded by Wally MacAulay.
“No Frontiers” – Julie Martell wowed them before and does it again with her excellent musical capabilities. This is someone to watch for in the future. She’ll be EXTREMELY famous.
“Hughie and Allan” – Richard and Maynard portray these famous Capers in a VERY respectful manner. Loved watching this. You’d think it WAS Hughie and Allan in person.
“Purple Heather” – What a fantastic way to go. This version of “Wild Mountain Thyme” is almost as hard to believe as the “Buain a Rainich” at the start of the second act. It works though! Gordie’s fantastic guitar playing as well as his singing combined to create a wonderful closer.
However that was not to be the end. The cast finished off the evening with some beautiful music leading to the appearance of FOUR fiddlers centre-stage. Howie, Gordie, Lisa and Al picked up their fiddles and stomped away through one more excellent fiddle set! Great work!