Glory Days! blockbuster musical opens the UC Playhouse season

MORRISBURG – Book your seats at Upper Canada Playhouse early, because Glory Days!, a brand new musical created by Chris McHarge, is already selling out at the box office.

Glory Days!, opening April 23 and running until the 28th, celebrates the music of three revolutionary decades, 1960 – 1990: it paints an intimate picture of the sensational artists who ‘broke out’ in those 30 years. Delivering hits from Elton John to the Eagles, Van Morrison to Carole King, the band is going to make this musical tribute a “glorious” experience for audiences.

Donnie Bowes, artistic director of Upper Canada Playhouse, is thrilled to premiere Chris McHarge’s new show here in Morrisburg.

“Live concerts have an energy that simply can’t be duplicated in any other way,” Bowes said. “To experience that live music in our intimate space here at The Playhouse is a real treat.”

In a career spanning 30 years, McHarge has written well over 100 productions, and acted as artistic director of Lighthouse Festival Theatre, the Grand Theatre in Fergus and artistic associate with Theatre Aquarius. “Honestly,” he said, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else as a career. This is my life.”

McHarge discussed the roots of his new musical Glory Days!.

“The key starting point for this show was my desire to focus on the artists who either got their start at the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood, or rocketed to fame from the Troubadour stage. Some musicians, Elton John for example, literally came right out of total obscurity into instant stardom following a performance at the Troubadour.”

The Troubadour Club opened in Hollywood in 1957. It soon grew to be a major centre for folk music in the early 60s, and a showcase for singer/songwriters who later became major musical stars. Some of the greatest rockers of three decades launched their careers from the mics at the Troubadour.

“Carole King, the Eagles, they all began to write and then sing their own music independent of the production system that existed at the time,” McHarge said. “Musicians at the Troubadour Club basically broke the mould for popular music.”

Clientele “hanging out” at the Club ranged from ordinary people, right off the street, to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and comedians. It was the “place to go.”

“On Mondays, the Club held open mic nights, ‘Hoots (short for Hootenanny) Night,’ where anyone could get up and sing,” McHarge explained. “If your set went over well, you could be looking at instant stardom.”

The music in Glory Days! draws from the Troubadour Club’s rich heritage. Glenn Frey and Don Henley once played back-up for Linda Ronstadt there. Carole King stepped out of the shadows as a song-writer after James Taylor encouraged her to sing for herself at the open mic. Carly Simon sang there, and actually wrote the hit ‘Anticipation’ in 15 minutes while she was waiting to go out on a date with Cat Stevens.

The artists and the songs that lit up the stage of the Troubadour for over 30 years, form the basis of the musical Glory Days!

“There’s maybe a few places still around like the Troubadour Club,” McHarge said. “But none has ever achieved its legendary status.”

With such a wealth of music to choose from for his production, McHarge definitely found it tough to make the cuts. “Our original list of songs was huge. But the list we selected for the show is, I think, well chosen. Audiences will love hearing those songs and some of the stories that go with them.”

Performing in Glory Days! will be a group of “incredible musicians, all seasoned pros. Cumulatively, we’ve got over 200 years of professional experience,” McHarge said with a laugh.

Musical director for the show is multi-instrumentalist Michael Ray. Willem Cowan provides vocals and guitar; Stephen Ingram is on vocals, keyboard and percussion; Chris Dahmer, band leader, provides keyboards and vocals; Matthew Lima is on electric and upright bass as well as vocals; Julia Dmytryshyn provides vocals, keyboard and percussion; Terry Branagh, guitars and vocals; Kevin Dempsey, drums and vocals.

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