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Chorus to put on a performance to remember
Expect entertainment with a strongly nostalgic theme.
The latest South Surrey show by the members of The First Capital Barbershop Chorus (Langley Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society) is all about music and memories according to co-producer and longtime chorus member John West.
The 2012 Remembrance and Variety Show will evoke the Second World War and the sacrifice of those who served – while also spotlighting the talents of local singers in a second-half variety show format.
The show – which comes to St. Mark’s Anglican Church (12953 20 Ave.) at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 – once again draws many of its singers from the Semiahmoo Peninsula as well as the Langley area.
As West, and his daughter Barbara Bourbonnais – a member of participating quartet Mixed Company – and veteran South Surrey chorus colleague Denny O’Donovan point out, this is the first time in three years the chorus has returned to its popular annual Remembrance show.
A number of factors contributed to the hiatus, including the rising costs of venues, they said, plus the inevitably thinning ranks of the earlier audience, those who served and their families.
The change in format also recognizes the fact that traditional remembrance programs, while popular, can run the risk of being repetitive and artistically limiting for the singers.
“You can end up doing the same show year after year, and the guys singing can get tired,” O’Donovan said.
The new format gives the well-regarded, rich-sounding harmony chorus – and guest groups The K Sisters, recent district senior champion barbershop quartet Syncromesh and Mixed Company – an opportunity to feature a much broader, if equally nostalgic, repertoire, they said.
“It throws it wide open, because we can do numbers like It’s A Good Day; some ’50s and ’60s stuff like My Special Angel and Love Me by Elvis Presley,” said West.
Not that remembrance will be neglected in the show, which in addition to songs that evoke the war years, such as A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and Lili Marlene, will include spoken passages.
“The theme is ‘What do you remember?’” said Bourbonnais. “The guys in the show will be getting up and giving snippets of what they remember.”
While current members are too young to have served in the Second World War, many are old enough to have vivid memories of the war years – like West himself, who grew up in Brandon, Man.
“While I was a very young child during the war, I remember the war effort needed aluminum,” he recalled.
“My mother gave me a couple of aluminum cooking pots that I took down to this big open lot in Brandon, and threw on the pile.
“My father used to give me 50 cents allowance. I’d spend one quarter for a war stamp (contribution to the war effort) and I’d use the other quarter to go to the movies.”
He also remembers VE-Day clearly, he said.
“I was a paper carrier, and on VE-Day I was at the movies, at the Strand Theatre in Brandon, when the news came through. They actually stopped the movie and made an announcement: any paper boys who were in the theatre needed to get out because there would soon be special extras that needed to be distributed.”
The variety format of the second half gives additional scope for Mixed Company, which plans to hark back to the days of vaudeville for some of its set, and for Langley chorus member John Spence, a veritable troubadour who sings self-accompanied on the guitar.
“John has this version of Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home – it’s a wonderful version,” said O’Donovan.
“He has a very funny second verse – Bill Bailey don’t you, please, come home,” said Bourbonnais.
Adding extra pizzazz to this year’s program is the K Sisters, a professional quartet including versatile singers Caitlin Beaupre (soprano), Jennifer McLaren (mezzo), Karen Lee-Morlang (piano and vocals) and, for this show, Katy Hedalen (soprano).
“They’re very good – they sing along the lines of the Andrews Sisters,” said West.
“For the remembrance part of the program they’ll sing songs like Apple Blossom Time, the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy and Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, while in the second half they’ll probably have a costume change and a completely different set of Gershwin standards and other songs like that.”
Tickets ($20, $15 seniors and students) are available from Keith Ridge Men’s Wear, Semiahmoo Centre; The Pelican Rouge Café, Central Plaza; Ocean Park Pizza and Village Pub and Hallmark Cards in Willowbrook Shopping Centre.