Across the Pond takes Upper Canada Playhouse by storm

MORRISBURG – And the crowd went wild! That’s actually a bit of an understatement.

The audiences that packed Upper Canada Playhouse for the four day run of Leisa Way’s ‘Across the Pond: The British Invasion,’ were out of their seats, singing, dancing and cheering for practically every number. With the incredible singer/musicians of the Wayward Wind Band – Bruce Ley, Nathan Smith, Bobby Prochaska, Fred Smith and Don Reid – backing her up, Leisa Way brought back the memories, the social changes, and the sheer fun of music that was born in Britain in the 60s and spread to the whole world.

For many in the audience, this was the music of their youth – a time of go go boots, Beatle haircuts, mini skirts, mood rings, lava lamps and bell bottoms. Everything in life was groovy.

From their opening medley, Leisa Way and her musicians delivered on songs as varied as the Beatles’ ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ to the (“anti-Beatles”) Rolling Stones’ ‘Satisfaction.’ In the course of the show, music from Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Elton John, Mary Hopkins, the Kinks and the Animals thrilled the house.

As Way told the audience, “In 1776, England lost her American colonies. In 1964, the Beatles took them back again.” Wearing striking costumes that evoked that magical time in music, Leisa Way, whose powerful voice spans the octaves, shared songs that ranged from the soulful ‘What’s It All About, Alfie,’ to the ‘Look of Love’. And her medley of 007 classics (“I like my Bond shaken, not stirred”), including ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Live and Let Die,’ brought the house down.

She, Bobby, Nathan, and Fred also shared stories and anecdotes throughout the show, built around the songs, the artists, and around those sometimes turbulent times of the 60s and 70s. Van Morrison’s huge hit was changed from ‘Brown Skinned Girl’ to ‘Brown Eyed Girl,’ because certain Southern states still outlawed mixing the races. Petula Clark brought barriers crashing down when she touched her co-star Harry Belafonte live on air, as they sang together. ‘To Sir with Love’ honoured a black teacher and his white British students, while Bob Dylan’s classic ‘House of the Rising Sun’ was tied to a New Orleans ‘house of ill repute.’ No question the times “they were a changin’.” And ‘Across the Pond’ reflected those changes through the songs Leisa chose.

‘Across the Pond’ showcased an incredible range of music. Glam Rock, Punk Rock, perhaps even a bit of Acid Rock – there was no musical style that the performers failed to deliver. Each of the artists was specially featured in great solo numbers during the concert: Fred, Nathan, Bobby, Don and Bruce, proved again and again what incredible vocalists and musicians they are. While, in person Leisa Way may be a petite person, on the stage, she is a mighty voice and presence. It was very clear, all night, that she loves this music. She loves to sing. And the crowds, without question, love to hear her.

The final medley (‘He Ain’t Heavy’ to ‘Crocodile Rock’) saw all the performers gathered on stage in their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts uniforms. When they finished, the Playhouse erupted with cheers. No question, Playhouse audiences were thrilled to join these outstanding musicians in “our journey Across the Pond.”

Since you’re here…

… Thanks for reading this article. Local news is important. We hope that you continue to support local news in your community by reading The Leader, online and in print. Please consider subscribing to the print edition of the newspaper. Click here to subscribe today.

Subscribe to Email Alerts

Enter your email address to subscribe to Email Alerts and receive notifications of new posts by email whenever The Leader publishes new content on our website.