4:30 p.m., Nov. 6)
Western-themed Bytowne Beat concert a real
By Fred Sherwin
Myriam Laliberté (centre) played Lawanda Darlene
in the Bytowne Beat Chorus production of 'The
Rodeo Queen' at the Shenkman Arts Centre on
Nov. 5. Fred Sherwin/Photo
a fan of the iconic television series "Hee Haw",
I was thrilled to hear that the Bytowne Beat Chorus had
adopted a country and western theme to their concert this
year, and judging by the near capacity audiences that
showed up for their two shows on Saturday, I wasn't the
it turns out, the Orléans-based barbershop chorus
has quite the following, and for good reason. The 35-member,
all-female group is both talented and creative.
concert revolved around the central character, Lawanda
Darlene, a barrell-racing rodeo queen from Balzac, Alberta.
discovering there is more to life than quarterhorses,
Lawanda meets a young man named Billy who is performing
in a Calgary saloon with a traveling barbershop quartet.
The two hit it off immediately, but Billy has to leave
town with the rest of the quartet the next day.
her chance meeting with Billy, Lawanda's thoughts soon
turn to her first love -- a big, brwany Brahma bull-rider
fate would have it, the two run into each other at Pete's
Poker Palace in Edmonton. But much to Lawanda's surprise,
Johnny is married to a ravishing redhead. The hope of
one day rekindling her love with Johnny is over; "crushed
like a cow turd in the middle of the arena" is how
the narrator puts it.
the romantic, Lawanda still holds out hope that she might
one day run into Billy again. Several years go by before
the two are finally reunited at the saloon where they
time Billy sticks around, and the two lovebirds ride off
into the sunset to live happilty ever after.
simple plot line formed a fitting and colourful backdrop
to an electic array of songs that were brought to life
by the 35-member chorus, assisted by a large segment of
the audience who couldn't help themselves. And how could
they? You try sitting still when an all-female barbershop
chorus strikes up "Any Man of Mine" or "Hey,
Good Lookin' ".
an added bonus the concert also featured several numbers
by the Toronto-based barbershop quartet Fusion and a little
old tyme fiddlin' by Cumberland's own Wade Foster,
90-minute concert was entertaining as all get up and at
several moments during the show I felt like letting out
a loud "yeehaw". From what I could tell the
rest of the audience fully enjoyed it as well. The only
unfortunate part, is that we have to wait a whole year
before the next production which musical director Pam
Warkentin plans to start working on early in the new year.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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