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Hollywood Sings … and sings and sings

Christine McKeon, Diane Chase, June Crowley and Susan Gilmour are part of the cast of Hollywood Sings, opening August 5 in Drayton. [Submitted]

 

Christine McKeon, Diane Chase, June Crowley and Susan Gilmour are part of the cast of Hollywood Sings, opening August 5 in Drayton. [Submitted]
Christine McKeon, Diane Chase, June Crowley and Susan Gilmour are part of the cast of Hollywood Sings, opening August 5 in Drayton. [Submitted]
Drayton will be the launching point of a whirlwind tour through some of Hollywood’s most memorable musical moments – from Rick’s brooding over “As Time Goes By” to the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic – with the opening next week of Hollywood Sings.

The show by David Rogers and David Hogan weaves together a tapestry of instantly recognizable music, from hit songs in their own right (from “Moon River” to “Mamma Mia”) to the scores that made us afraid to go into the water (Jaws) or accept favours from Marlon Brando (The Godfather).

Hollywood Sings starts a two week run August 5 at the Drayton Festival Theatre.

With so much ground to cover – some 80 songs over more than two hours – the pace is brisk, with lots of set and costume changes. That provides plenty of work for Hogan, who directs the show.

“The task is daunting, but exciting,” he said of the show in an interview from Petrolia, where he and Rogers are co-artistic directors at the Victoria Playhouse. The show presented there last year, conceived by Rogers and choreographed by Hogan, sees the cast reunited for Drayton, including Brian Belleth, Mark Cassius, Diane Chase, June Crowley, Susan Gilmour, Christine McKeon and Michael Vanhevel.

“Everybody is very happy to be back – it’s such a fun show,” said Hogan. “It’s the great songs of Hollywood. “It’s so chockfull that you feel so satisfied.”

After a big Hollywood opening when we meet the cast on the red carpet – cue “Hooray for Hollywood!” – as part of a 12-minute medley, the show is presented in chapters: Academy Award winners, country, scores and the like. There’s an ode to Judy Garland. And a salute to Marni Nixon, whose voice was recognizable to millions as songstress behind many actresses, including Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember and The King and I, for Natalie Wood in West Side Story. Here, as throughout the show, a comedic touch allows the audience to see behind the curtain to the woman singing in the movie set’s sound booth while the actress out front does some less-than-stellar lip-syncing.

“It’s fun to watch,” said Hogan of the sequence, noting there’s plenty of humour mixed in with the music. “It’s chockfull of laughs.” Picture, for instance, a group of adults dressed in curtains as the Von Trapp children from The Sound of Music.

Themes are a key part of Hollywood Sings. Like linking up “Stormy Weather,” with “Singing in the Rain” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” to form a chain through several decades of movies. Or like running through the iconic theme songs that go along with Bond, James Bond. Or ending the show with a 12-minute medley of songs from Disney movies, a family friendly sequence if there ever was one – “Disney wrote some amazing music.”

And the music is really what it’s all about, after all. There are visual cues in flashing up the marquees from the movies, but the songs are usually easy to recall.

“It’s very accessible – nothing is obscure. We’ve just filled it with recognizable songs,” said Hogan of the show. “The interesting thing about movie music is that you can go back and share the experience – it instantly takes you back.”

Packaging up some of the songs into medleys helps Hollywood Sings cover a lot of ground, and there’s plenty to be covered.

“David Rogers is the medley king,” Hogan noted, adding the show hits all the high notes for the audience. “You’re going to spend two and half hours in total bliss with the music. We’re giving them what they want – and doing it well.”

Drayton Entertainment’s presentation of Hollywood Sings plays seven shows a week from August 5-23 at the Drayton Festival Theatre. Tickets are  $42 ($25 for those  under 20 years of age), available online at www.draytonfestivaltheatre.com, in person at the theatre box office, or by calling 519-638-5555 (toll free at 1-855-DRAYTON).

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