(Posted 12:30 a.m., Jan. 21)
at the alter of the Church of Karaoke
By Fred Sherwin
Lynne Stacey plays Aunt Tara in the Queenswood
United Church production of 'The Church of
Karaoke: The Musical'. Fred Sherwin/Photo
never been a big fan of karaoke. For one, I don't have
a very good voice, and for another, I can think of a lot
better ways to embarrass myself. As it turns out, I was
completely unaware of the positive impact karaoke can
have on peoples' lives.
eyes have been opened by a brilliant musical written entirely
by Kathleen Grady-Thompson. The Church of Karaoke: The
Musical tells the story of Jesse Chase, an anxious young
man who has serious self-esteem issues until he's visited
by a group of angels in a dream.
wants to audition for a musical, but he's convinced that
he won't get the part. His low self esteem is the result
of being judged by others and constantly being bullied
and put down.
night before the audition Jesse has a dream about being
in a karaoke bar where he meets his "dream guide",
Dr. Sue Besstimer, and befriends Madeleine, who is also
an angel sent to help Jesse realize his potential.
bar is filled with interesting characters who share a
common love of singing. Girlfriends Katrina and Marilee
are just out for a good time. Peter is a middle-aged man
who looks like he would be more at home in a sports bar
than a karaoke bar. He sings to get attention. Then there's
Leo and his Aunt Tara. Leo can't stand karaoke bars, but
he goes to humour his aunt who would sing the dictionary
from cover to cover if she had an audience.
Besstimer manages to convince Jesse to sing. but before
his turn comes up he suddenly finds himself in a church
with all the people from the bar. At first they criticize
Jesse's sing choice, but they quickly change their attitude
after they realize that the artist who wrote the song
believed in peace love and protecting the environment.
Jesse finally gets a chance to sing, the rest of the bar
appreciates the effort and applauds him which empowers
him and builds his self-esteem. The message the play is
trying to convey becomes increasingly more apparent, that
music and singing is a wonderful means of self-expression
that can not only convey one's feelings and beliefs, but
their faith and spirituality as well.
the program states, "With singing we love, pray,
cry, suffer and rejoice, while leaving all the judgment
up to God."
side plot to Jesse's journey of self-discovery, is Leo's
journey of self-destruction. The young man overdoses outside
the karaoke bar and dies. He meets the two angels who
explain to him that his death will help others by turning
them away from drug use.
gets to witness his funeral service during which Jesse
sings Psalm 100 which speaks about coming before God with
grateful songs. Leo is touched by the tribute and learns
that he will become an angel.
the final scene each character sings about what they would
be if they were a song. Jesse finally realizes that he's
not afraid anymore. Through song he can be whoever and
whatever he wants to be. The transformation is complete
and he awakens from his dream in time to go to the audition.
play was produced entirely by members of Queenswood United
Church to help raise money for the church building fund.
cast included Queenswood pastor Ed Gratton who played
one of the karaoke DJs along with his wife Kim Gratton.
was played by Grady-Thompson's husband Terry, who also
happens to be a member of the Queenswood United Church
choir as does most of the rest of the cast including Lynne
Stacey who played the wonderfully eccentric Aunt Tara
in a variety of costumes that would have made Liberace
rest of the cast included Laura Burk as Dr. Besstiner,
Carol Pugsley as Madeleine, Doug Tudor as Peter, Benoit
Lorraine as Leo, Kattie Gratton as Katrina, Valerie Bishop
as Marilee, Archie Newby as Brother Bob, and Muriel Thompson
as Novice Nelly.
but by no means least, Wayne Robbins and Bruce Richardson
played home decorating TV hosts Pixie and Slider, who
appeared off the stage in a video. The flamboyant duo
was extremely funny, especially in their duet "Hey,
You're Really Good.".
the production on keyboard was songwriter, musician and
arranger Christopher Natiuk.
play was undoubtedly a great deal of work, the result
of which, was a tremendously entertaining production.
Here's hoping it's not their last.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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