This is Cape Breton!
July 15, 2002 – Capri Cabaret
On Monday evening, I took in the latest Cabaret Style summer show, which is a series hosted by the Capri Cabaret and runs Sunday through Thursdays until August 22nd. Set in the intimate surroundings of the lounge, it is a perfect stop for locals to bring their guests to spend an evening listening to a fine example of cultural diversity in music and song. A small yet enthusiastic crowd were treated to several styles including Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Celtic.
Now anyone who is familiar with my reviews understands that I am quite observant of whatever scene I find myself in and like to be fair but honest in my critique of any performance. I respect the hours of work that go into a show of this type, as well as the talent, of those taking part. Since this is the first of its kind in the Sydney area there has to be room allowed for growing pains, as is the case with any launch of a series.
This particular show has definite potential, in becoming an annual event. As long as those planning to attend are certain of what to expect from the evening. It’s not a variety show as in a comedy sense, and the cast don’t have that close knit bond that generally takes at least two runs to accomplish, if the chemistry is there. But once the bugs are worked out there is plenty of room for growth.
I have definite opinions on the high and low parts of the show, which were already evident half-way through the night. I don’t usually like to choose favorites among an ensemble but in this case, at least in my view it is appropriate, especially should the decision be made to carry on the series in the future. Richard Poulette was most engaging, with his heartfelt songs of Mi’kmaq culture and stories of his people. The musical arrangements around his songs were most uplifting and the highlight of the evening for myself and obviously the crowd. What I did not like was the incessant interruptions (onstage), during his explanations, the scripted banter that I found unnecessary and annoying. I thought it showed disrespect for his outstanding talent, and it was distracting of his all important contribution to the show.
The second most appealing member of the cast has to be Erin Martell, who just absolutely deserves so much praise for her incredible ability to handle so many tasks, from her breathtaking vocal selections, including French no less, and wizardry on fiddle, bodhran, guitar, percussion and dance. A most versatile performer and definitely one to watch in the future.
Chad Tetford is fast becoming a favourite on the local scene, with his mix of original material and traditional favorites repertoire, making it seem effortless to entertain an audience with his straight-forward approach. A definite asset to this type of show, Tetford has the right amount of humor and confidence in his ability to keep a crowd thoroughly entertained all on his own.
Rounding out the cast are Marilyn MacDonald on vocals, piano and percussion, and gives the cast a sense of leadership, even though she is for the most part tucked away in darkness at the rear of the set. Nathan Richards provides an amazing blend of accompaniment, on bass, flute, guitar and accordion. Though relatively quiet throughout, his back-up support of fellow players is definitely a positive ingredient to the program. Amanda Mozvick offers a little lesson in Hungarian-Cape Breton musical heritage as she delivers both her own historic selections as well as Celtic style on fiddle. Teaming up with Martell on twin fiddle sets, they provide a rousing, foot-stomping segment to the audience.
It was a nice evening out and the best parts of the show were truly exceptional. But instead of the repetitive debate over tunes or songs, I would have much preferred more of the great talent onstage, as afterall, that’s what the show is touted to be. Too much time is wasted on the script. Time that could certainly be better spent. With a little tweak, this show could continue to offer visitors a welcome respite after a busy day of sight-seeing and shopping in the true Cape Breton style of Cabaret.