What’s more fun than a stage full of Monkees?
Add The Beatles, Supremes and Everley Brothers, throw in the likes of Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, and Mick Jagger, and tie it together in a zany variety show. The result is Legends, an ingeniously devised show that reminds audiences why they loved these musical pioneers of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s.
A back-by-popular-demand repeat of last years’s really big show (hot on the heels of Twist and Shout, The British Invasion) Legends delights the large baby boomer demographic again. Though some presentation changes have been made, requiring the recruitment of a few witty audience members, the fun prevails.
Drayton Entertainment’s Artistic Director Alex Mustakas conceived, wrote, and directed the production in the spirit of merriment that went along with this arguably innocent era. With over 100 songs to include, there is never a dull moment and dancers are introduced – if there is a chance of it. Choreographer Gino Berti has driven home the memories in dance sequences that energetically signify the era.
The variety show premise is that after 20 years with SBC, host Roy Solomon is signing off and taking a stroll down memory lane along with the audience. The lovably goofy announcer, played by Tony Doctor, provides many foolish moments needed for set changes such as Tiny Tim or the shark from Jaws that has the audience, and himself, in helpless giggles.
A mere 13 member ensemble covers all of the musical ground so smoothly and with so much talent. Among those giving it their all is Danny Williams, with an astounding ability to switch a wig and unassumingly honour John Lennon’s Imagine, or Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, then jut his lips and swing his hips as Mick Jagger to Paint it Black and Satisfaction.
Christine Glen returns to the production with her rich voice and soulful style to do great justice to numbers such as Son of A Preacher Man and Respect. She brings with her a colourful musical background and must have many stories to tell.
Ange Pagono, a Drayton Entertainment favourite, conveys passion and skill in her dancing and singing performances and has further polished her version of Me and Bobby McGee.
A fab foursome indeed is Kraig Waye, Michael Clarke, Michel LaFleche, and Duff MacDonald, who harmonize, sing, and entertain all the way to Motown and beyond.
A seven-piece live band directed by Michael Lerner is partially visible but wholly virtuoso. The pod set design is very retro with its daisy flower walls and large screens on either side that remind the audience of song names and dates, and fun facts of the era when gas was 29 cents a gallon.
The screens also serve to give a different vantage point of the ongoing action onstage. For example The Beatles appear in black and white just as they did on The Ed Sullivan Show with their matching suits, bowl cuts, and four piece band. However, the screens sometimes run old footage that seemed disjointed in its content with war scenes and random people.
Thanks for the memories.
Legends plays several times per week until Oct. 4. Tickets can be ordered by calling the Drayton Festival Theatre box office at 519-638-5555 or 1-888-449-4463. For more information visit www.draytonfestivaltheatre.com.