Every new season brings an eclectic mix of entertainment to the stage of the Registry Theatre. This year’s lineup, announced publically Thursday, is no exception.
The range is indicative of the little venue’s mandate to support the arts and serve a wide, diverse audience, says program director Lawrence McNaught. That blend has become the hallmark of the Kitchener performance space.
The One Night Only series, for instance, is indicative of the mix put together by McNaught. The series opens November 3 and 4 with the ever-popular Kevin Ramessar Group continuing the tradition of musical tributes. This time around, it’s Canada’s Singers – Canada’s Songs, a focus on Canada’s brightest lights in the sesquicentennial year. They’ll play songs of artists from Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen to Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan and Bruce Cockburn.
“It’ll be great to have him back. Kevin is a local favourite – he always puts on a popular show. It’s his 10th consecutive year at the Registry,” says McNaught of the concerts.
Next in the series are the Sultans of String, who’s December 1 performance will have a holiday focus, the worldbeat group holding its world premiere CD release concert for its new Christmas album.
It’s world-music versions of some Christmas chestnuts such as the Little Drummer Boy, The Huron Carol and Feliz Navidad. The quintet will be joined by special guest vocalist Rebecca Campbell.
Jumping ahead to April 21, the series features Alejandra Ribera whose musical mosaic of English, Spanish and French definitely fit the eclectic bill.
“She’s originally from Montreal, and she’s becoming popular in Europe, but she’s totally unknown here. Those who come out for the show are going to hear an absolutely wonderful show – she’s a beautiful songwriter with a lovely voice,” says McNaught of Ribera.
Switching gears from an emerging talent to one who’s well established, the Registry presents Jackie Richardson, Canada’s reigning queen of jazz, gospel, soul and blues on May 26. Familiar for more than her voice, Richardson is a veteran of many television and movie performances.
She wowed the Registry audience with her previous show three years ago, so McNaught expects people will be eager to catch her return.
“She’s a wonderful stage presence. When I say her 2014 concert here was legendary, it’s not hyperbole. She put on an absolutely spectacular evening.”
Along with the one-off concerts, the year’s schedule includes a range of series, from jazz and classical to dance and comedy.
Among the offerings in the Classics at the Registry series are the fittingly named Registry Quartet performing a show dubbed Blooming Brahms and Magical Mozart on February 18. Led by WLU professor Paul Pulford on the cello, the concert will feature a Brahms quartet, plus a Mozart quintet with a special guest viola.
And keeping with the spirit of firsts, The Springdale Trio’s New Music in Canada show on March 11 will see the premiere of a new suite by popular pianist Boyd McDonald, the beauty of the west in a sonata by Murray Adaskin, Ten Miniatures by Owen Underhill, and a beautiful ballad by Gordon Lightfoot. McDonald will be joined by Wendy Wagler on flute and Ben Bolt-Martin on cello.
The Jazz series kicks off with local favourite Larry Larson and his Jazz Guys. Their show February 23 is part of the Jazz Festival Weekend, to be followed on February 24 by the Penderecki String Quartet’s Jerzy Kaplanek doing a Jazz Violin Tribute to such innovators as Stéphane Grappelli and Jean-Luc Ponty.
“I’ve been talking with Jerzy for a couple of years about doing this kind of concert. He’s got the classical stuff, but he’s got a real feel for the jazz,” says McNaught.
Joni Nehrita and Mary Catherine Pazzano team up for Women Music Revolutionaries, presenting songs from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Joni Mitchell, Sarah Vaughan, Barbra Streisand and Carole King on March 9.
Jane Bunnet & The Spirits of Havana return to the venue April 20 for their 25th anniversary concert. Bunnett on the sax and flute and Hilario Duran on the piano promise a night of spirited Afro-Cuban sounds.
Some traditional jazz will be on tap May 4 when the Dave Wiffen Quartet presents the pioneering music of John Coltrane, sampling from Lush Life, Blue Train, Giant Steps, My Favourite Things, A Love Supreme and others.
Old-school in your viewing of silent films? The VOC Silent Film Harmonic provides live accompaniment to classic films. For the upcoming season, classic is very much the focus: The Passion of Joan of Arc from 1928 (November 2), Faust from 1926 (March 8) and Metropolis, the epic 1927 film from Fritz Lang (May 3).
Dubbed the Local Heroes series, this three-concert segment features local players interpreting some favourites.
The Dan Beacock Group presents the Three Kings of the Blues – Freddie, Albert and B.B. – on October 20.
Benjamin Rollo Presents Great Canadian singer-songwriters – Vol. 2 on February 2. And March 3 will see Matt Weidinger Plays Van Morrison.
“He’s going to try to recreate that period when Van was touring with a nine- or ten-piece band, including strings,” says McNaught of the third concert. “It’s going to be a fun show.”
Rounding out the year’s calendar is a mix of offerings, from live theatre to dance and even a “Group Karaoke” featuring a host of local musicians. Oh, and some bluegrass, with a series that will feature the return of the Kruger Brothers, among others. And add to that mix the Folk Night at the Registry, as outlined in last week’s edition. Plus more.
Having just launched this season, the Registry’s 17th, McNaught will have an eye on the next one.
For more details about these and other shows in the 2017-2018 season, visit www.registrytheatre.com.