BEFORE THE SHOW (SATURDAY AFTERNOON) Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith - Jay & Silent Bob - are somewhere in my town. Probably somewhere near the casino. They're doing one of their speaking gigs there tonight. I was supposed to go. It's been a long time since I've considered myself a Kevin Smith fan, but when the show was booked, I decided to check it out. His speaking engagements are legendary; in fact, DVDs of his appearances are my favourite things that he's put out in a long time. But then the original show was postponed and rescheduled for today. Around that time, I heard about the Sarah Slean show, also tonight, so I had a choice to make. I returned my Jay & Silent Bob ticket, claiming that I couldn't make it to the rescheduled show, and used the money to get my Slean ticket instead. The Jay & Silent Bob show is sold out, so they won't miss me. I'm glad my seat will still have a butt in it.
Slean is "reimagining Broadway" with the Regina Symphony Orchestra. I wonder if a lot of people had to make the hard choice between Kevin Smith and the symphony tonight? Or any night?
My ticket is in the front row. That sounds great, but I note that it was also relatively cheap - something like $40. Five rows back, tickets were $90. I suspect I may find myself to be TOO close, like at the Art of Time shows earlier this year. Oh well, I don't really need to see much, I just need to be able to hear things.
AT THE SHOW Yeah, this is really close. But I think it should be okay.
ALSO AT THE SHOW Intermission. I'm just off centre, front row, 6 feet directly in front of Sarah Slean at all times. I thought she'd be playing piano but she's only singing (not ONLY only - you know what I mean - not multitasking). There's a trio with her on piano, drums, and upright bass. Been very good so far. She accidentally tried skipping a song but recovered nicely. I know more of these songs than I thought I would. Will list all songs later; hooray for programs.
They're selling CDs later and also having a reception to welcome the new musical director. I likely won't buy anything or go meet anyone but it's nice that these things happen.
No encore listed in the program. I wonder what they have planned? If anything?
AFTER THE SHOW The encore was Over the Rainbow. She tried to encourage people to sing. Most did. Me, no. I didn't sing on request for Edelweiss either, but that time I had the excuse of not knowing it well enough to even try.
Songs! Here they are:
• Overture (I noticed Anything Goes and If I Were a Rich Man; there may have been other songs in the medley if you know more than I do, which you probably do) • Oh What a Beautiful Morning (Oklahoma!) • I've Never Been in Love (Guys and Dolls) • Chim Chim Cheree (Mary Poppins) • Somewhere (West Side Story) • Edelweiss/My Favourite Things (Sound of Music) • Mein Herr (Cabaret) Intermission (not a song) • NYC (Annie) • Consider Yourself (Oliver) • You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile (Annie) • America (West Side Story) • Falling Slowly (Once) • I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables) • There's No Business Like Show Business (Annie Get Your Gun) (presumably a gritty reboot of Annie) Encore (also not a song) • Over the Rainbow (I dunno, maybe Hamilton, that's a thing I've definitely heard of)
The show opened with a bunch of introductions of symphony people that you probably don't care about even though they do important work and give important money and make the entire symphony possible and have you ever even thanked them? I thought not. For shame.
This led to the introduction of Sarah Slean and the Mike Janzen Trio. Like I mentioned, Slean was singing and Janzen was on piano, with George Koller on upright bass and Ben Riley on drums. Plus there was that whole orchestra thing. This was the setup for pretty much every song, apart from Consider Yourself and You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile; both of those numbers had Janzen singing, and Smile featured just the trio.
Whether or not you think this was a good show would depend on your thoughts about 1) the musicians, 2) show tunes, and 3) Slean herself.
The musicians were fantastic and so of course that means they're going to get the shaft and I'm not going to talk much about them. But yeah. All great.
Show tunes... I don't know. I've never been a musicals guy apart from comedy stuff. That said, I knew an awful lot of these songs just because how can you not, right? I thought the arrangements (all done by Janzen) were really well done - true to the originals but took full advantage of the orchestra.
As for Slean, I know some people who love her and some who don't. Obviously, I'm a fan, but I can see how it could get to be too much of a good thing. This is probably best summed up by the reactions of the folks I was sitting near; the group to my right loved her and praised how "emotive" she is. The group to my right said very little as they were leaving beyond "she's a ham." Two sides of the same coin, I figure. Even more than her own songs, Broadway show tunes gave her the opportunity to emote as she sang. So basically, if you already liked her, you'd have enjoyed this. And if not, nothing here would change your mind.
Like I said, I'm a fan, and I thought this was quite good. I've seen Slean in concert a few times now, and I'd have gone to see her playing another "normal" gig, but I love unique shows like this. Very glad I went, would go again. They should bring in other people too. Like Ben Folds, so I could see him with an orchestra without having to drive to Edmonton. I need every one of you to go on Twitter and tell the symphony they should do this; they've got me blocked for some reason.
UPCOMING CONCERTS • Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27) • Donovan Woods w/Joey Landreth (November 2) • Steve Earle & The Dukes (November 3) • Bif Naked w/Jordan Alexander (November 8) • Duotang (December 2)