By Neil Armstrong
Fans of Soul and R&B are in for a glorious treat when they experience the journey of Love Train, a musical journey of those genres recorded under such influential labels as Staxx, Phil Specter’s “Wall of Sound” and Atlantic Records and Motown.
The eclectic repertoire of the musical includes music from stars such as Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, The Drifters, Etta James, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner and Percy Sledge, to name just a few.
Their legacy has been passed to singers such as Prince, Beyonce, Boyz2Men, Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars and Whitney Houston. “Last year’s Motown Gold brought you the music that was specifically recorded under Motown Label and its stable of artists.
This time around we bring you Love Train - a musical revue and a journey through the music of Soul and R&B,” says Stage West executive producer and playwright/director, Timothy French, explaining that the artists featured in the new show were not recorded under Motown.
According to French, since March they (he and Howard Pechet, the other executive producer) have been compiling music that they had from Motown that they couldn’t use and then researched the top great Soul and R&B songs of all time from the most influential artists.
Eventually they ended up with 300-400 songs and then had to pare it down to between 60 and seven songs for the revue show.
He said during the research process the songs start to speak in their own ways through theme or musical grooves to form a medley of the Blues set or songs that more Funk-based.
“All together they just start to form a show and I think about the director/choreographer and I think about how they a certain group of songs will lend itself to musical staging.”
French said that when the songs are put together, he likes, when it comes to the choreography and the movement, to get the dance style to show how people moved at the time the songs were hits.
“I like to pay tribute to this music and not spoof it in any way. I think the artists are so amazing and people have such a real attachment to these songs at certain points in their lives that I think I want to connect with all of that sentimentality and all of that love and of those memories and bring it to the stage,” says French.
The songs are organized into thematic medleys and sung by an incredible cast of ten Canadian performers, including Aurianna Angelique, who performed a powerful rendition of I Will Always Love You .
The other cast members are: Troy Adams, Karen Andrew, Tafari Anthony, Andrew Broderick, Louise Camilleri, Aadin Church, Saccha Dennis, Rob James and Jivaro Smith.
The band members are: Anthony Bastianon (keyboards/conductor), Pol Coussee (tenor saxophone/ keyboards), Darren Poirier (electric guitar), Michael McClennan (electric/acoustic bass) and Robert di Salle (drums).
The musical director is Anthony Bastianon, Allan McMillan (lighting design-technical director), Samantha Burson (set designer), Kimberly Catton (costume designer) and Derek Brown (head of sound).
“You’re not going to get a finer group of versatile singers, especially Black Canadian singers together on a stage who have the versatility to sing all this music and I think just the quality of the singing is something that is not always seen on the stage in a musical revue in this country,” says French.
He says he respects the music and the artistry of the cast members to create something that is joyous and exciting. The show started on November 29, 2012 and runs until February 10, 2013.
Performances run Tuesday to Sunday evenings plus matinee shows on Wednesday and Sundays. Ticket prices include the award-winning Stage West buffet-newly renovated and updated to serve you better with plenty of new and exciting entrees, salads and desserts.
This is a wonderful show to see during the holidays to tap into all the genres of Soul that you love - Soul Legends, Soul Blues, Romantic Soul, Disco Soul, Modern Soul, Blue/Brown Eyed/British Soul, the King & Queen of Soul, among others.