Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Revisiting the soundtrack of star-crossed lovers

Stewart Legere and Kim Harris revisit the soundtrack from Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo + Juliet in a tenth-anniversary remount of Young Hearts at Dartmouth's Alderney Landing Theatre on February 14.

In 1996, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann captured the cultural zeitgeist of the time as he transformed Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy into a modern and innovative retelling of the young star-crossed lovers in Romeo + Juliet.

Not only did the film help launch Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes into superstardom, but it also became a touchpoint for many young people at the time. Among them was Halifax multidisciplinary artist Stewart Legere who remembers seeing the film as a teen.

“I have a visceral memory of the movie,” says Legere. “I was a 13 or 14-year-old closeted kid going through puberty when I saw the movie, and it ruined me for months.”

Fast forward to 2013, Legere and his friend, Halifax-based singer Kim Harris, were looking for a distraction from other projects and began talking about their favourite soundtracks growing up. It didn’t take long for the two to agree on the soundtrack from Romeo + Juliet.

“We both started listing song after song and singing them off by heart and thought it would be a good basis for a show,” says Legere.

It led to a sold-out crowd at Halifax’s The Company House that same year, a show Legere calls both “magical” and “nostalgic.”

Since then, Legere and Harris have been encouraged to remount the show numerous times, including an annual ask from Eastern Front Theatre artistic director Kat McCormack. However, busy schedules over the past decade have always put the idea on the back burner.

Finally, the two agreed to revisit the soundtrack ten years later with Young Hearts at Alderney Landing on February 14.

“[Kim and Stewart] have finally relented to my begging and are going to do a 10th-anniversary concert of their infamous Company House tribute concert,” says McCormack in an email. “The soundtrack is incredible, and they both have the voices of angels … and I really think it’s going to be a really special night.”

Featuring a yet-to-be-announced line-up of special guests who will join the two on stage, Legere says that not only will they once again perform every song from the original movie soundtrack but are “levelling up” this time.

“The production values will be bumped up, and since we’re doing it at Alderney Landing, which is a larger venue, we’re going to try to recreate a basement cabaret vibe but on a bigger scale,” says Legere.

Of course, revisiting the show a decade later means the duo will draw on their intervening years as artists.

“I think it’ll be very different just because we’re older and supposedly better musicians and have ten more years of experience,” says Legere. “Besides, we’ve got a good design team, and it’ll be a really special fun night. I’m super excited about it, and I hope that other people are too.”

Eastern Front Theatre presents Young Hearts at the Alderney Landing Theatre (2 Ochterloney St, Dartmouth) on February 14. Visit easternfronttheatre.com for tickets and information.

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