Modelled after its Toronto sister organization, the newly formed Halifax Musical Concerts (HMC) has added a second night to its inaugural show, Broadway or Bust, after its first concert quickly sold out.
“Without sounding corny, it is a little bit of balm for the soul,” says HMC artistic producer Christopher Wilson of being in the enviable position of being able to offer a second show.
“People want to feel that energy that is inherent only in the exchange between the performer on the stage and the live audience member,” he continues. “We’ve been so starved for live up-close connection, especially those who like to devour theatrical offerings and its a wonderful feeling.”
Having run Toronto Musical Concerts for the past three years, like so many arts groups across the country, the professional musical theatre company cancelled much of its 2020 season when the pandemic hit.
As COVID-19 continued to grow in Ontario, Wilson escaped to his seasonal home in Nova Scotia, where the number of infections is much lower due to what he calls “the awesomeness of the Atlantic bubble.”
“My lovely partner Gavin is a Haligonian and built a lovely summer home, which is soon to be a four-season home,” explains Wilson. “We’ve been spending a more pronounced time here in the last two years, and because I was starting to extend my time in Nova Scotia, I decided to develop a sister company and formed Halifax Musical Concerts.”
Much like the cabaret performances produced in the past by its Toronto counterpart, Halifax Musical Concerts will launch with a Broadway revue.
“The focus of the evening was choosing musical theatre repertoire that was a combination of solos, duets and hopefully a quartet group number which will represent the diaspora of the musical theatre canon,” says Wilson.
From the music of Broadway’s Golden age from artists such as Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin to more contemporary work from Sara Bareilles and Jason Robert Brown, Wilson says Broadway or Bust will include both the familiar and unfamiliar.
“There isn’t a particular theme, story or throughline for the evening,” says Wilson. “It is really focused on music that resonated with the performers from up-tempo pieces and ballads and both familiar fare to the average listener and some new contemporary musical theatre works that local listeners may not have been exposed to.”
Joining Wilson on stage for Broadway or Bust are four local theatre artists who are no strangers to Halifax audiences.
“I’m drawing on the talents of some wonderful, locally established professional musical theatre artists. Laura Caswell, Kyle Gillis, and Rebecca Guilderson will be accompanied by our fabulous one-person orchestra Chuck Homewood,” says Wilson. “They are all very familiar to Neptune Theatre’s professional theatre stage and have lots of done lots of independent theatre in the city.”
And while Broadway or Bust will be “a smorgasbord of musical theatre repertoire,” Wilson has much bigger plans for the future of HMC.
“We wanted to introduce the local community to the brand with the hopes of ramping up larger-scale musical theatre concert presentations,” he says. “Maybe next summer and into the following season, in venues in Halifax and potentially taking them a little further abroad to other communities like Chester or the Wolfville area.”
For now, though, Broadway or Bust is here to help fill a void for audiences looking to see professional musical theatre performers do what they do best.
Broadway or Bust plays The Carleton (1685 Argyle St, Halifax) with a second show added on October 13. Visit thecarleton.ca for tickets and information.