First, in keeping with February being Black History Month, Tillsonburg will be welcoming once again, Michael Toby, and his magnificent voice, back to sing “Hear Freedom's Ring” at St. Paul’s United Church Feb. 26 at 3:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 and proceeds go to Michael and the Community Kitchen for the meals they and other community churches prepare and serve to meet the needs of the hungry in our community.
“Hear Freedom’s Ring” is an entertaining and very informative evening, where you will learn how the old slave spirituals from the southern United States were actually coded, telling the salves how to run north for freedom. For example: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, besides being about dying and going to heaven is also code that another conductor on the Underground Railroad would be coming soon to lead them to Freedom. Another, Wade In The Water, taught runaway slaves to get into the water to remove their scent from the bloodhounds chasing them.
I don’t know if Michael sings this one, but I liked the subtly of “Follow the Drinking Gourd." Gourds were used to dip up water from the well to drink, but the song was telling the slave to follow the Big Dipper, as the stars pointed north to freedom in Canada.
You will know some of them, but all will stir your hearts, knowing the stories behind the songs of slaves.
For anyone who has not heard Michael sing, you are in for a delightful evening. Michael doesn’t just have ‘a good voice,’ Michael is a trained opera tenor! Now for some of you the word 'opera' thrills. For other it scares them away, but you can be assured that when he sings other than opera, which is what this concert basically will be, it is going to sound like heaven for everyone. But for the opera lovers in town, Michael often gives a couple of his more memorable operatic pieces to satisfy you too!
Michael has performed major operatic roles on stage and has soloed with Toronto, Scarborough and Hamilton’s Symphonies as well as Buffalo and Hamilton’s Philharmonic Orchestras.
You will find this a wonderful afternoon experience, so bring family and friends and check out “Hear Freedom’s Ring." If you have any questions, please call, Laurie Drew 519-842-8786.
The next part of the column is to let you know it is your big chance to audition for Theatre Tillsonburg’s next production. I know, you are thinking that Guys In A Garage isn’t over yet and we are starting the next one! The Spring show is “Beau Jest" by James Sherman, directed by Karen Tripp and produced by Jeff and Sheila Tripp.
Beau Jest is a romantic comedy, about Sarah and she has a problem. Her parents want her married but they have never met or heard about Sarah’s boyfriend Chris, a business executive. In fact, Sarah told her parents that she is dating a doctor and they insist on meeting him. To satisfied her mother (and get her off her back), Sarah plans a dinner party and hires an escort service to send her a date to be her doctor boyfriend. Her boyfriend is not at all happy that she won’t introduce him. The service sends Bob, an aspiring actor who agrees to perform the impersonation. Happily, he is extremely convincing in the role and Sarah's parents are enraptured and would like to see more of him! There are more deviations and twists in this plot than you can imagine.
The Tripp family would like to welcome you to join the Beau Jest Team. We need on stage: Two females - one in her 30's and one 50-plus, and four males - three in their 30's and one 50-plus.
Backstage, which is a really great place to try your first show could also use some help, specifically they need a stage manager, and running lights or the sound board. Please contact us. Don’t worry they can train you to push the buttons and even how to stage manage if don’t know how.
Auditions are Feb. 23 & 24 at 7 p.m. at the Otter Valley Playhouse, 144789 Potters Road. If you have any questions, you can contact Sheila or Jeff at email@example.com or call 519-266-4903.