By TORI RUTHERFORD
Oh Canada Eh?’s new show At the Movies takes its audience on a trip down memory lane, featuring songs made famous by movies from all generations.
From Feb. 12 to April 4 guests can experience this all-new show featuring over 50 movie soundtrack anthems from every genre. Guests can choose if they want dinner and a show, or just the show.
Returning writer and director Lee Siegel has written over 10 shows for the theatre company with this most recent creation being the biggest.
“A couple years ago we did On the Radio, which included over 100 songs but it wasn’t as technical. This one has a lot more dancing and these guys are really working,” said Siegel.
The jack of all trades started at the theatre company at age 18 but went on to perform two seasons at the Stratford Festival and in 2012 performed in New York on Broadway doing Jesus Christ Superstar as well as being on the Tony Awards.
Siegel said, “I started here with Oh Canada Eh? and I’ve evolved in and out of the door for the past decade or so.”
The theatre company prides itself on its ability to keep guests coming back while consistently bringing new guests in.
“It’s a challenge to build a show that appeals to all ages but I think we’ve accomplished that with At the Movies,” said Siegel.
Production manager and performer, Sue Thibert, has been part of the family for five seasons, about 20 shows. A graduate of the Performing Arts program at St. Clair College, in Windsor, Ont., Thibert said her favourite part of working at the theatre company is performing and saying goodbye to guests after each show.
Her other highlight is when the show recalls the 1980s.
“My favourite part of any show is when we can include the ‘80s. I love solos too, of course, it’s my time with the audience when I can relax and do a nice ballad as opposed to the usual hustle bustle of the show,” said Thibert.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which the company does as a charity event every year, ranks in No. 1 spot for her.
“I love Rocky because performers get to let loose and don’t have to serve tables,” said Thibert. “Winter shows are physically demanding. Lee works us very hard and pushes us farther than other shows, it is very hard but very rewarding in the end.”
New to the company’s family, Brandon Stafford has marked one year but is already becoming popular with repeat guests.
“In the summer show I play the host, Pierre, and for some reason I always have the older ladies come up to me after the show and talk to me. So, I’ve started flirting with them from the stage, one lady once told me that I had bedroom eyes,” he said.
Stafford, who considers singing to be his weakest performing skill, favours Swingin’Little Sleigh Ride of all the performances he’s done so far because he is able to do more character development.
Also a graduate of St. Clair College’s Performing Arts program, Stafford was offered his position here right out of school, with his roommate right beside him.
“My program did a general audition and Sue saw me and called me in for an audition here and my roommate and I both got a job, which was great because I got to start this journey with someone I already knew,” said Stafford.
Although Siegel considers the entire show to be his baby, “The horror movie section gives me a lot of pride and joy, especially the first three sections. Seeing the whole thing come together, especially when the cast really nails their moves, is really rewarding on its own.”
In addition to writing this show, Siegel also recently revamped the company’s regular summer show, keeping fan favourites but introducing some new components to give it a fresh face.
Talk to any performers or employees and they will all tell you the same thing; Oh Canada Eh? is like a family.
“I was 18 when I started here and even though when I come back there is a mix of new and old faces, it’s like a family reunion, it’s like coming home. We fight like people fight with their family but at the end of the day it’s all forgiven because we’re a family,” said Siegel.
If the performers learn nothing else from him, Siegel said he hopes they understand their performance should be worth the audience’s time.
“I always tell the performers, yeah, the guests have spent money to be here, but what’s more important is that they are spending their time here and that is much more precious than money, so make it worth their time.”