Toronto Fringe: Out of the echoes of pain and loss comes a beautiful noise in the powerful, moving Echoes – A New Musical

nickeshia_garrick_and_kyle_holt_brown - echoesWriter/director Andrew Seok “wanted to write a musical about war and its effect on families and relationships” – and he’s done just that, to great effect with Chaos & Light’s production of Echoes – A New Musical, running at Toronto Fringe at Jeanne Lamon Hall in Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, with music direction and accompaniment by Robert Graham.

Inspired by personal letters and journal entries, and taking us across decades and into a new century, Echoes is divided into three acts, starting with the American Civil War, where fugitive husband (Kyle Holt Brown) and wife (Nickeshia Garrick) slaves are separated when the wife and their daughter (Millie Davis) are captured; when he reaches the north, the husband joins the army to gain his freedom. Act II takes place during WWI, where we see the effects of war on the future of a young captain (Andrew Seok) and his fiancée (Marisa McIntyre). Act III finds us in WWII and a father (Micah Richardson) leaving his daughter (Millie Davis & Amaka Umeh) to serve in the army shortly after her mother has died; ashamed by what he’s doing in the name of duty, he constantly breaks his promise to return home to his daughter until years later. The common, running thread throughout all of these stories is the courier (beautifully performed by Jeff Madden), delivering and receiving letters for delivery – and wondering about the reasons for it all.

The score is filled with gorgeous, heart-wrenching ballads, with some dark comic relief (performed by a pair of scoundrels played by Hart Massey and Christopher Sawchyn – “The Treaty” and “We’ll Be Back”). Stand-outs include “Demons & Angels,” “Angels Won’t Sleep Tonight” and “All the Things that Life Used to Know.” And “Hymn,” the gospel-inspired finale lead by Nickeshia Garrick is a perfect way to end this piece in that it reminds us of the better angels within us all.

I’ve seen several standing ovations over the course of Fringe this year, but none so unanimous as the one the Echoes cast received last night.

Out of the echoes of pain and loss comes a beautiful noise that reminds us what we could be in the powerful, moving Echoes – A New Musical.

Echoes – A New Musical has one final performance at Jeanne Lamon Hall in Trinity St. Paul’s: tonight (Sat, July 9) at 8:00 p.m. They’re sold out, but there may be a few stray tickets at the door.

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Upcoming Angelwalk Theatre fundraiser extravaganza – Liza & Barbra: Together At Last

There are a couple of amazing one-night only fundraiser shows I must tell you about – please get out and support local theatre. The first one is this musical extravaganza:

Liza & BarbraLiza & Barbra… Together At Last: Saturday, October 19 at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Created and performed by Jennifer Walls (as Liza Minnelli) and Gabi Epstein (as Barbra Streisand), this 5th anniversary gala fundraising event for Angelwalk Theatre brings two incredible actresses playing two legendary performers live onstage for a cabaret-inspired evening of story and song, with a special appearance by Jeff Madden as Frankie Valli.

The evening’s festivities will include a silent auction, raffle and prizes – plus hors d’oeuvres!

7 p.m. hors d’oeuvres and silent auction; 8 p.m. performance. Tickets $40-$75 ($35-$75 for Angelwalk subscribers; $30 for arts workers). Call: 1-855-985-2787 or book online at: www.angelwalk.ca

So – what are you waiting for? Get on the phone or online, and get yourself hooked up with some tickets to this fabulous fundraising event! You’ll have a blast – and, since you’ll be helping to support local theatre, you’ll feel good doing it.