-8.5 C
Monday, January 20, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Music that’s designed to give you a lift

The stirring and the inspirational take to the stage in Good Ol' Country Gospel at the Schoolhouse Theatre, St. Jacobs


Woolwich proposes 5% tax hike for 2020

Budget talks underway this week, Woolwich council is looking at five per cent hike in property taxes, a...

EDSS student wins U.S. baseball scholarship

It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind....

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...


clear sky
-8.5 ° C
-6.7 °
-11.1 °
44 %
1 %
-4 °
-1 °
1 °
2 °
-1 °

Audiences can expect an authentic atmosphere, soul-stirring ballads, and plenty of interaction with the cast in Drayton Entertainment’s latest offering.

Now on stage, Good Ol’ Country Gospel is a lively musical revue taking place in the cozy confines of the Schoolhouse Theatre in St. Jacobs.

The tribute to the gospel sound puts a homespun feel on many beautiful songs, then adds a country twist. Audiences get a genuine feel for what they’re seeing: no one in the cast is taking on the role of another character, says the show’s assistant director.

“We’re basically playing versions of ourselves,” said Mark MacRae, who’s also a cast member. “It feels natural … but also quite different from playing a character.”

The eight-member cast showcases a variety of skilled multi-instrumentalists, several of whom are making their Drayton Entertainment debut. Actors include choral singer and cellist Ben Cookson, professional drummer Kevin Dempsey, fiddler and violinist Leah Grandmont, Drayton regular Zachary Knowles, versatile actor, and skilled baritone singer MacRae, Drayton veteran with a powerful voice Daphne Moens, and talented newcomers Paul Jerry Schwarz and Kate Suhr.

They are lead by director and choreographer David Rogers, whose voice and performance skills have landed him in many major musicals over the years; he played the Phantom and Raoul in the Toronto Production of The Phantom of the Opera, Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, and Harold Hill in The Music Man, among others.

“Packed with humour and heart, Good Ol’ Country Gospel is a fun-filled tribute to the cherished canon of gospel hits,” says Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment in a release. “Audiences will be uplifted, inspired, and amazed by the depth of talent on stage.”

Actors will switch effortlessly between playing the banjo, keyboard, mandolin, double bass, organ, guitar, double bass, and piano… in folk and country type style. Audiences will recognize “Amazing Grace,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Peace in the Valley,” “How Great Thou Art,” “When The Saints Go Marching In,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “I Saw the Light,” and many more.

Rather than focusing on scripted scenes with one another, the actors’ attention is on engaging with the audience.

“It’s more like a musical concert – where we’re going back to the audience and saying ‘hey!’” said MacRae with a laugh. “We might be joking about this, or a little bit of information about the background of a particular composer.

“It’s always about bringing them into our world.”

While much of the music has a religious theme, MacRae said that it would appeal to everyone, no matter what their denomination may be.

“Obviously, it has the religious aspect to it too, and I think that our audience members who come to it from a stronger religious background connect to it that way,” said MacRae.

“Even if you don’t, I think the music is very uplifting, has a good message of community, loving your neighbour – the goodness and wholesomeness that is transcendent beyond the religious overtones.”

As the show runs for a considerable length of time compared to usual Drayton Entertainment offerings – four months in total – the variety of audience members and engagement helps to keep things fresh for the actors onstage.

MacRae recalled one humorous incident where he blanked on his solo line during a live performance. One of the actors improvised, declaring the scene to be replayed again.

“The audience gets to see a moment where … y’know, we’re human up here. We’re going to go back and start again. That freedom is fun. As an audience member, I love it when I see little mistakes like that and think: ‘oh yeah, I’m seeing something real!’” said MacRae with a laugh.

“Because we’re not just watching something on Netflix. We’re watching a live show with live people, and anything can happen. If you weren’t there at that performance, you didn’t get to see that particular Mark McCrae addition to the show on that particular Thursday afternoon.”

Good Ol’ Country Gospel is on stage now to December 22 at the St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre. Tickets may be purchased in person at any Drayton Entertainment Box Office, by calling the box office at (519) 747-7788 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866), or online.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


The new face of health promotion

There’s a new face around the Woolwich Community Health Centre. Gebre Berlihun has taken on the role of public health promoter after the retirement of 25-year employee Joy Finney in October.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

EDSS student wins U.S. baseball scholarship

It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind. That’s not a passing fancy,...

EDCL donates $1,000 as thank-you to Floradale firefighters

Thanking the Woolwich Fire Department, Elmira District Community Living this week donated $1,000 to the Floradale station. Firefighters from Floradale...

Kings win two more to keep streak alive

The Elmira Sugar Kings extended their 2020 winning streak and their hold on the conference standings with a pair of wins over the weekend.

Choir to bring the sounds of Africa to Elmira

An Elmira church will play host to a lively performance by an internationally-acclaimed children’s choir from Uganda, Africa. The Watoto...

Applejacks extend winning streak to three

The new year continues to be good to the Wellesley Applejacks, who picked up a pair of wins over the weekend to make...
- Advertisement -