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Getting back to virtual ahead of returning to live events

As the province reopens and theatre groups have the option to play before live audiences again, Drayton Entertainment is taking care of some unfinished virtual business: a pair of postponed livestreaming events are set to take place later this month.

The final two concerts of the organization’s Live Broadcast Cabaret, put on hold in April due to stay-at-home orders, will take place July 22 and 29, both at 7 p.m.

The concerts are livestreamed, which means they are not pre-recorded versions, and they cannot be viewed later. The livestream enables the audience to watch things as they happen, like they would if they were viewing it at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

“It was designed to have musicians play together and (the concerts) were going really well until the province shut it down again – we had two left, those are the ones we rescheduled. We’re excited about it, it’s a great way for us to stay connected to our audience. The fact that we couldn’t have them in an auditorium – this way they can tune in and see something live,” said Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment.

Streamers will be able to watch Little Big Band, a seven-piece group playing modern jazz hits and updated classics on July 22. The band features music director Brigham Phillips on piano, Sasha Boychouk on woodwinds, Howard Gaul on drums, Peter Hysen on trombone, Will Jarvis on bass, Paul Mitchell on trumpet and Dave Thompson on guitar.

On July 29, vocal powerhouse Kelly Holiff sings songs by Broadway and popular composers who shaped her life, including Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Céline Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now,” and “Defying Gravity” from the hit musical Wicked.

“There is nothing like that live communal experience, that we experience with 400 or 500 other people – we laugh as one, we cry as one, we think as one, and there’s nothing like it. It’s just a way for us to kind of stay connected until it’s safe for us to get back into the theatre.”

Mustakas said he is hopeful that by the fall they will be running live shows again, and by Christmas they’ll be running large-scale shows again.

The arts was one of the hardest hit industries since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and will probably be one of the last to resume operations, he suggested.

“There’s a statement by one of the greatest film stars ever – which is Charlie Chaplin – one of the things he said was ‘I like to walk in the rain so that people can’t see my tears,’ that’s how these artists have been feeling – some of them have been doing this all their lives; you don’t pick up dancing when your 30 years old, they started learning how to dance when they were 5 years old. It’s been hard for artists and musicians,” noted Mustakas.

“It’s hard enough to make a living as an artist in this country, so the secondary industries were taken away from them as well –  they couldn’t do catering jobs, they couldn’t work in a bar, for a lot of musicians they teach and that made it really hard, so I’m glad we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully very soon we’ll be able to open up again.

“I’ve heard from people many times; I didn’t realize how much I would miss it until I did,” added Mustakas, looking forward to welcoming the community and seeing a full audience again.

“The messages we’ve received saying, ‘we can’t wait ’til you’re back,’ that’s really inspired us and made us realize how important theatre is and the arts are to our community. We’re a balanced community – the arts are one element of a vibrant community.”

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