Ocean Park-based Pacific Showtime Men’s Chorus has sung a lot of shows for a lot of different events over the 12 years since it was first established by original founder and director Mike Dwyer.
An alternative to existing non classical male-voice choirs, the dynamic group succeeded early on in getting away from the repertoire limitations of ‘barbershop’- style harmony.
But founding members Terry Bucknell and Denny O’Donovan admit it took the 13-strong chorus a long time to reach its current point – being able to present a full musical show and carry a broadly comic plot, as well as singing the numbers.
“From the outset The name Pacific Showtime implied a show,” said O’Donovan.
“We started with the intent of doing different music and doing a lot more shows,” said Bucknell.
“We seem to be getting into our stride now.”
The success of the group’s Western-themed Deadwood, in 2014, and last year’s mob-themed The Godfather – A Musical Comedy, both sell-outs, have built an audience for Pacific Showtime’s trademark brand, a large helping of determinedly goofy hokum with cues for more than a dozen songs to showcase soloists and the ensemble vocal blend.
That ready-made audience has driven early sales for their newest offering, Ticket To Ride, in which Pacific Showtime will bring the songs of the Beatles to Ocean Park Community Hall (1577 -128 St., June 4, 7:30 p.m.) and the Royal Canadian Legion Crescent Branch 240 (2643 – 128 St., June 10, 7:30 p.m.).
A series of Lennon-McCartney classics including Blackbird, A Hard Day’s Night, Yesterday, Let It Be, All You Need Is Love and Hey Jude receive a distinctly nautical touch in the show, thanks to a typically tongue-in-cheek plot about the crew and passengers of a Canadian schooner that winds up becoming shipwrecked on an exotic coast populated by headhunters.
Director/keyboard accompanist Jonathan Wiltse has not only provided his usual special vocal arrangements, but also wrote the script for Ticket To Ride.
“It’s his baby,” said Bucknell.
“He’s to blame,” countered O’Donovan.
More seriously, they credit Wiltse with providing a lot of impetus for the current run of hits for the group.
“One thing that has added to the success of the last three or four shows is that he’s done the arrangements,” said O’Donovan.
“He’s a professional musician, unlike the rest of us enthusiastic amateurs. Sometimes in rehearsals you wonder if he is or is not pleased – but he’s very good, and very accommodating to our weaknesses.”
“And he’s playing a couple of parts in the show,” Bucknell points out.
Pacific Showtime’s theme and plot frameworks, which have made the most of the hammier instincts of such fellow members as Don Dickson, Ron Flaterud and Leigh Anderson, have become a selling point of the shows, he said.
“We try to make them as humourous as possible to keep people interested,” he added.
“If you just stand on stage and sing at people, that’s all very well, but after five songs people can lose interest.
“Me and Don Dickson have been talking about doing a Beatles show for years. We’ve had the western, we’ve had gangsters. With every year you have to come up with something different, but this is very popular music – it’s going to appeal to a whole lot of people. And Jonathan’s arrangements are very true to the sound of the Beatles.”
O’Donovan and Bucknell say they’re also hoping the show will attract some audience members who would consider becoming part of Pacific Showtime.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Bucknell noted.
The group, which rehearses Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Church, 12953 20 Ave., is currently seeking new members for subsequent shows in all vocal ranges (lead, tenor, baritone and bass). Singers are invited to attend rehearsals to check out the group and, hopefully, join in.
Tickets for Ticket To Ride ($20) are available from Denny, 604-536-7983, or online from www.pacificshowtime.com
For more information on joining Pacific Showtime, call 604-536-5292 or email firstname.lastname@example.org