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Registry Theatre reaches milestone

Call it the little theatre that could. From an idea for a community-based venue a decade ago, Kitchener’s Registry Theatre has become probably the busiest theatre in the region. This fall, it launched its 10th anniversary season.

To celebrate the milestone, the theatre is programming an even wider array of entertainment for 2010-2011.

“We try to bring in things that you wouldn’t expect at a little place like ours,” said director of programming Lawrence McNaught. “We’re a showcase for local and regional talent, but this year we’re looking a little farther afield because it’s our tenth season.”

The Registry Theatre has a full slate of performers on tap this season. Upcoming concerts include Celtic guitarist Tony McManus

That includes the likes of Canadian jazz royalty Don Thompson as part of the popular Jazz Series. The acclaimed pianist will be playing Apr. 8 along with Jim Vivian on bass and Terry Clarke on drums. And the Folk Night at the Registry Series scored a “big coup” by arranging to have the legendary Sylvia Tyson wrap up the six-concert season with a performance May 7.

Along with those two series, both celebrating their fifth years, the season includes two others: classics and dance.

The former includes concerts by the Nota Bene Period Orchestra and, on Apr. 10, “Classic Piano Trios,” featuring Boyd MacDonald (fortepiano), Julie Baumgartel (violin) and Paul Pulford (cello). They’ll be performing Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart on period instruments, recreating the music as it was first heard.

The Dance Series – three shows in March, April and May next spring – kicks off with a performance by Peggy Baker, one of the country’s foremost dancers and choreographers.

As always, the series are rounded out by a variety of other performances, some of them one-offs lumped under the One Night Only banner. That includes the popular tribute concert by local guitarist Kevin Ramessar and his cadre of musical friends. Last year it was Paul Simon. For this season – the concerts are Mar. 18 and 19 – it’s Get Back to The Beatles, featuring the tunes of the Fab Four, along with pieces by George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

“Kevin’s shows are very popular – the musicianship is great. It’s a group of topnotch musicians taking a run at not only The Beatles but the solo works by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison,” said McNaught.

In the near future, the Registry line-up includes a couple of back-to-back shows he’s enthusiastic about: Tony McManus Nov. 13, followed by Laura Pudwell the next afternoon.

“Tony is considered by many to be the greatest Celtic guitarist in the world. For this show, he’ll be doing a variation of The Maker’s Mark album in which he plays a number of the world’s finest guitars.”

Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus took the traditional Celtic sounds of pipes and fiddles and transferred it to the guitar. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word. From those early days, McManus eventually made his way to Canada, and now calls this area home.

At the following day’s show, we jump from the music of Scotland down south to Italy.  Grammy-nominated mezzo soprano Laura Pudwell will be joined by The Registry Chamber Players’ co-artistic director Julie Baumgartel (baroque violin), Margaret Gay (baroque cello) and Lucas Harris (arch-lute) in what is billed as an afternoon of frivolity, despair, unrequited love and … complimentary biscotti and coffee.

The all-Italian program features works by Caldara, Porpora, Corelli, Bononcini and  Handel – “he ate a lot of pasta and drank red wine … oh, and these songs are in Italian, so he’s an honorary Italian.”

For more details about these and other shows in the 2010-2011 season, visit www.registrytheatre.com.

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