I took in the opening night of the Summertime Revue and I have to say that I have never seen Bette MacDonald in better form than in this production. She had the best comedy bits, credit to an extremely creative writing team, and she just ran with every hilarious line. The Beach scene stands out as she (playing Marjorie, with Maynard Morrison as Donnie, and Colin Grant as Da) orchestrates a plan to enjoy an afternoon outing on the shore. All three were outstanding on this piece. MacDonald opened the show in her trademark Mary Morrison character, and returned mid-show to the delight of all, musing on everything from the Royal Wedding to Gordie’s new found interest on the internet. I’m not usually a Wayne Tomko fan (another of MacDonald’s long time characters), but this time he won me over, in two sketches focusing on his prowess with the ladies, including tips for special guest Sam Moon on impressing the girls. Whether engaging the audience as herself, joining the ensemble for medleys, or bringing down the house with her characters, Bette MacDonald shines throughout this season.
There is no shortage of guests this year. Setting the tone in the first half, fiddlers Colin Grant and Chrissy Crowley are a tremendous addition to the event. Both dynamic players who managed to hold their own among a sea of performers. From twin fiddle sets, step dancing and ensembles, these two represented youth in a big way! Returning this year are Fiona and Ciaran MacGillivray, true professionals who can fit into any production and they shine in their individual spotlights, as well as joining in with others throughout the night.
But of course the special guest this year is Sam Moon, and if you were not already a fan (and who wouldn’t be?), then you surely will be after seeing him in this production. He makes several well received appearances that included him wearing a pretty spiffy gold sparkly Muumuu, (must be saved for his very special guest appearances), as well as in more sedate attire that showed the audience that he doesn’t always have to be flamboyant to entertain. Performing “Dr. Rock n Roll”, “Dana”, and the much appreciated “Girls of Neils Harbour”, Sam Moon was a welcomed addition to the Revue, and most evident was the respect for him by all onstage and off. Great stuff!
I’d have to say the comedy sketches were outstanding, including Maynard Morrison’s stints as Martin MacKinnon, and Max MacDonald’s Ted Jordan, news anchor–really funny stuff, as expected.
There were lots and lots of medleys, covering over 30 years of material. Songs like “Put A Nickel”, “The Island”, “Herring & Potatoes” and more recent selections like “Getting Dark Again”, “Part of the Mystery”, and a special version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” (Cape Breton style), with a wide array of instrumental arrangements, and vocal duets, and groupings, with great effort made to give everyone an opportunity to take centre stage.
And I guess that is where I have a little problem with the show. It’s certainly not a reflection on any performance or individual. And I’m not sure if the program was written in a way to try to give folks their money’s worth, or necessary in order to include everyone involved. I suspect a little of both, and hopefully pointing it out will generate at least a little discussion when putting together future productions.
I simply believe things could have been pared down a bit and the show tightened up. This is a huge cast, and it must be very difficult to feature everyone without the show going just a bit too long. The first half especially seemed to drag. Taking into account that it was opening night and bugs were being worked out, that’s expected, and accepted. But going into the second half I felt that there was just so much to fit into the show that you couldn’t properly savor the highlights, especially the vocal solos, because it was bits and pieces of too many songs. I would have appreciated more of each individual artist throughout the medleys, as opposed to trying to fit so many songs and solos in. Less is definitely sometimes more.
I loved the show, and the comedy reigned, there just could have been more of that and less fuss over trying to fit everyone into the musical segments.
The Set is one of the most creative I’ve ever seen; great thought and work put into that. And the house band, as always, was top notch. Despite my few misgivings, this was a huge undertaking by all involved and I applaud and appreciate the cooperation it takes to keep a show this size running smooth, and keeping everyone on time, from sets to lights, sound and cues. Congratulations and thanks for keeping the spirit alive through the memories relived and for introducing young performers to the magic that is The Summertime Revue.