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Africville Stories gets things rolling

Bruce and Marilyn Ogram’s property on Line 86 is home to numerous decorations, including their prized tractor-riding lawn jockey. [Scott Barber / The Observer]

Little spot. Big sounds. As the Registry Theatre moves into its second decade, you can expect to see the kind of eclectic mix of performances that has become the hallmark of the Kitchener performance venue.

The One Night Only series, for instance, is indicative of the mix put together by director of programming Lawrence McNaught. The series opens next Friday with the premiere of Joe Sealy’s Africville Stories.

Based on the JUNO Award-winning recording Africville Suite, the musical tribute to the lost community of Africville features traditional style jazz compositions, songs and spoken word, led by Joe Sealy, the legendary Canadian jazz pianist-composer and his quartet.

Originally, author and playwright George Elliott Clarke was to do some readings, but due to a scheduling conflict the show now features Jackie Robinson, Canada’s First Lady of gospel, blues and jazz, with new songs written especially for this performance.

SEASON TAKES SHAPE Joe Sealy kicks off the Registry Theatre's One Night Only series Oct. 21 with Africville Stories. Other upcoming performances in the new season include Nota Bene Baroque, who perform Oct. 23, and pianist Gene DiNovi's I Can Hear the Music: The Great American Songbook on Nov. 20.

“We’re very lucky to have Jackie Robinson, she’s such a wonderful singer and she’ll certainly add her own flavour to this performance,” said McNaught, noting she’ll be backed by “great Canadian jazz virtuosos” Perry White on sax, Paul Novotny on bass and drummer Daniel Barnes.

“This quartet is definitely something to focus on, and certainly a must for jazz aficionados.”

Other performances in the series include jazz pianist Gene DiNovi’s I Can Hear the Music: The Great American Songbook on Nov. 20; the Kevin Ramessar Group performing Harvest: The Music of Neil Young on Feb. 24-25, 2012; Jane Bunnett & Hilario Duran Ensemble, with the Penderecki String Quartet on Mar. 17; and the John Tank Quartet playing Apr. 20, 2012 to mark the release of a live CD recorded at a sold-out 2009 performance at the Registry.

“This is definitely an eclectic mix, which is exactly what we have in mind,” said McNaught of the series.

Also on tap next weekend is the launch of the Classics at The Registry series, opening Oct. 23 with Nota Bene Baroque. Marking 10 years, Nota Bene’s artistic director and harpsichordist Borys Medicky will lead a performance of the group’s hits from past seasons.

That will be followed up Nov. 13 by Kevin Ramessar & Friends performing Guitarra Barroca: A tour of Baroque music for the guitar, featuring local guitar great Kevin Ramessar, Larry Larson on trumpet and Graham Hargrove handling the percussion.

Perennial fan favourite Larry Larson returns later as part of the Jazz Series, which this season focuses on tributes. His own show, Larry’s Jazz Guys, will perform Hot & Cool: The Trumpets of Jazz on Mar. 9. Larson pays tribute to some of his favourite trumpet heroes, including Miles Davis and Chet Baker. Part of the K-W Symphony, Larson and his guys – Kevin Muir, bass; Dave Campion, drums; Paul Shilton, piano – have become beloved regulars season after season.

The series kicking off Feb. 3, 2012 with Bernie Senensky Quartet doing Take 5: The music of Dave Brubeck.

Another mainstay of the Registy, the Dance series, sees the MOonhORsE Dance Theatre present Dances in a Small Room, an evening of work by James Kudelka and Tedd Robinson, on Nov. 19.

That’s followed Jan. 28 by In a Matter of Seconds, produced by Oliver Pavia in a co-production with JMYE emerging choreographer Amy Sproule. The performance is set to music from The Rising by Bruce Springsteen, and shows the events and aftermath of 9/11 as well as observations on the human condition.

For silent movie and music fans, the VOC Silent Film Harmonic have three performances on tap for the season, starting Nov. 24 with Robert Wiene’s Hands of Orlac, in which pianist Orlac (Conrad Veidt) loses both hands only to have those of a murderer transplanted in their place.

For more details about these and other shows in the 2011-2012 season, visit www.registrytheatre.com.

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