Hey blog world! 20 years ago, a journalist and a teacher/piano player gave an incredible gift to this province. That gift was Spirit of Newfoundland, a dinner theater company. For two decades they have been making Newfoundlanders laugh, sing and feel proud of their heritage. Last night, they celebrated this milestone anniversary with a brand new dinner and show called “The Young and the Rest Of Us” (name credit goes to Penny Scott who won Spirit’s “Name Our Show” contest. Congratulations Penny!) It was one of the most spectacular shows I’d ever seen!
I was very, very lucky yesterday! I got to spend all afternoon and evening at Spirit of Newfoundland! I worked yesterday afternoon! I absolutely love my job there! I polished the silverware, refilled the sugar dishes, folded the napkins and set the tables. I was flat out busy, but I enjoyed myself. I always have fun at work!
After my shift, I sat in the bar as I waited for my friend who was coming to the show with me to arrive. Little did I know, I was soon going to make a new one! Colleen, one of my co-workers, brought an older lady into the bar and the two of them started dancing together to the music that was playing on the radio. I love dancing so I of course joined in! We had lots of fun! After a couple of songs, Colleen had to get back to work, so I sat down with her friend and we talked to each other. I found out that her name was Mary and that we have a lot in common! We both have special dolls (she has a baby doll and I have a stuffed dragon) and love coloring and country music! We talked for a few hours and those few hours were some of the best of my life. She is such a joy to be around! She told Colleen that I was her new best friend! My heart overflowed! I’ll never forget you Mary and I sincerely hope we’ll get to see each other again someday soon! God bless you!
Later on, my friend Laura showed up. I don’t get to see her very often because we both have such busy schedules. It was wonderful to get to see her tonight! Not long after she arrived, the doors to the grand room (the dining and stage area) opened up. We sat down at our table and tucked into the breadbasket. Spirit of Newfoundland makes their own sourdough and it is absolutely delicious! The homemade, whipped butter is really yummy too! There were three different kinds on our table and Laura’s favorite was made with blueberry and allspice. I myself preferred the one made with honey.
The appetizer tonight was a spinach salad with julienne red pepper, beets, crispy won-tons and smoked cheddar with a lemon vinaigrette. The lemon vinaigrette was a tad bit sour, but other than that, the salad was really nice! All the different flavors worked really well together. 8/10!
For the main course tonight, Laura and I both had chicken stuffed with onions. That was paired with broccoli, carrots and mashed potato. Chef Alex, I don’t know what you do to the mashed potato, but please show me! Oh my firetrucking God is it ever delicious! So light and fluffy and yummy! The stuffed chicken was delicious as well! So tender, juicy and flavorful. The onion stuffing inside was superb! It was a big piece of chicken and I couldn’t finish it, but I loved every bite that I was able to eat! 10/10!
Not long after the meal, the show began! Tonight’s cast was Peter Halley, Darrin Martin, Sheila Williams and Shelley Neville. The show started with videos of anniversary greetings from lots of people. Alan Doyle, Petrina Bromely, the Ennis Sisters, even her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who actually was Shelley. I don’t know how they did it, but they had Shelley’s mouth on a picture of the queen. That was cool and also very funny!
They talked about their first three shows and did a short little skit and song from each. Their very first one in 1997 was “Hard Tickets In High Society”, which by the way is being brought back! In honor of their 20th anniversary, Spirit is remounting this show near the end of August! For more info on that click here, or call 579-3023. When Peter, A.K.A Fonz Cheeseman sang “Woman Of The Island”, it sounded beautiful! So much so that I almost cried!
Then, they went on to talk about their next show, “Wedding at Octagon Castle”. In that little skit, Sheila was playing a bride and as she waited for her husband to arrive, her and her aunt (played by Shelley) started talking about some of her former beau’s. One of whom was named Earl! They then proceeded to sing the Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers classic “Chainsaw Earl”! Spirit of NL’s version of “Chainsaw Earl” is now my new favorite cover of the song! I loved the three part harmony Sheila, Shelley and Peter went into on the line “Stunned was Earl!” Click here to see a video from 1998 of this song being performed!
Thirdly, they talked about “Paddy McGinty’s Wake”, inspired by this song. Peter played Paddy’s adopted son and told a story of how his father and his best friend made a promise to each other. They had bought a bottle of rum and made a promise to each other that whomever died first would get the bottle poured over his grave by the other. It was Paddy’s friend who passed away first and as promised Paddy went to the grave with the booze and told his friend “I’m here and I’ve got the rum so you can have a little nip. I just hope you don’t mind if I passes it through me kidneys first!”
It was a real treat to see Darrin back on the stage at Spirit of NL! Correct me if I’m wrong on this, but I believe it’s been 4 years since he last graced the Masonic’s stage! Last time I saw him at Spirit was in “Go Duet Yourself” in 2014. His voice is unbelievable! Last night, Peter held open auditions for “Diamonds In The Rough”, their Neil Diamond tribute show and Darrin showed up and sang “The Long and Winding Road”. My mind was blown! It was jaw dropping, beautiful and all around mesmerizing! I stood up when he was finished and gave him a well deserved standing ovation! My jaw hit the floor once again when Darrin and Peter sang “O Sole Mio”. Those two are spectacular singing on their own, but put them together and it’s absolutely stunning!
Darrin was a cast member of the very first ever Spirit of Newfoundland show that I saw, “Viva Lost Elvis” at the Majestic Theatre in 2007 when I was 10 years old. It was really nice to hear a few songs from that show last night. When the whole cast came together for “An American Trilogy it was captivating.
My favorite show that Spirit has done was “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop“! It’s the favorite of many people, 6 years later and the show is still running! In fact, it’s playing tonight! I saw it during it’s original run in 2011, and then again in 2014 and twice more last year! It’s one show I’ll never tire of seeing! It’s so much fun! Last night, they sang “Mamma Mia” and my heart overflowed with happiness! So much so that I almost cried a few happy tears!
The ABBA show holds a very special place in my heart. The night I first saw the show (April Fools Day 2011), Peter asked the audience a question, which song by ABBA is from the perspective of two men, but yet is sung by the girls? (click here to reveal the answer). I raised my hand to answer the question and Peter was astounded! He said he felt like he was back in his classroom! I got to meet him after the show and he recognized me as “The girl in the back who was raising her hand”! We talked to each other about the show and other things. I really liked him, he was a very nice person. I could tell that he liked me too. We kept in touch and very quickly became best friends!
Another performance that made my heart overflow with happiness was when Anne Murray (Sheila) came out onstage! I heard the beginning piano riff of “Daydream Believer” and a smile about a mile wide came on my face! That is one of my all time favorite songs! It makes me feel so happy! Sheila does a fantastic job of singing it! She sounds so much like Anne!
When it came time for the intermission, there was of course screech cake! I love it and Laura did too! It’s to die for! One of the best cakes that you will ever eat! The Screech caramel sauce paired with it perfectly balances out the strength of the flavor of the screech in the cake with the right amount of sweetness. Yum yum!
In act 2, they did a special “In Memorial” segment. In remembrance of Sheila’s mother Rosemary, they played a radio interview Rosemary did with Paul Raynes talking about her favorite Spirit of NL show. She said that it was “Nunsense”. I have never seen that one. I am disappointed that I missed out when they remounted it a few years ago. After the audio clip of the interview, Shelley and Sheila sang “Just A Couple Of Sisters”. I have heard that song many times and every time I hear it, I can’t breathe because I’m laughing so hard!
Peter’s mother Margaret (Frenchy) was next. Her favorite show was “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”! It’s one of my favorites as well! Her favorite scene from the show was “The Family That Drives Together”. Not only is that scene really funny, but it’s also really cool! During the song they actually are driving! The “car” is made up of four steno chairs!
Next, we heard an audio clip of Shelley talking to her dad John and asking if he remembered what her favorite Spirit of Newfoundland show was. He said she loved the Patsy Cline show. Reprising her role as Patsy, Shelley came out dressed like Patsy Cline and sang “Walkin’ After Midnight”. She sounded wonderful! I can’t remember the name of the song that was sung next, but Sheila came out also dressed as Patsy Cline and they had a sing-off to see which was the better Patsy. I think they were both excellent! They sounded so lovely when they sang together!
After that, Peter and Darrin came out onstage and sang the theme song from “The Beverly Hillbillies” by Flatt and Scruggs. Every now and then they would stop singing and point the mic at us so we could finish the line. That was fun! After we sang, the band played an instrumental version of the song. Sandy Morris, the guitar player absolutely blew my mind!
Another duo paid tribute to in the show last night was Kenny and Dolly! I love it when Peter and Shelley perform as them! Peter wears a stocking over his face and looks so silly! Then, when he starts to sing I’m amazed by how incredible he sounds and by the fact that he is singing with a stocking over his face! That does not seem easy to do!
Sheila Williams looks smot (one of my favorite Newfoundland terms, smot is the words “Some” and “Hot” smushed together into one word) as Tina Turner! She brought the house down with her killer performance of “Proud Mary”! It was one of my favorite performances in the show!
They ended the show in the same way that they end each performance of “Sinatra On The Rock“, by singing “My Way”. It was so powerful and emotional! What a way to end the show!
At the end of the show, as the band played “Time Of My Life”, on the projector screen in front of the stage there was a slideshow of pictures from the past 20 years. This was one of them!
I was so touched by this! Peter, Darrin and everyone else at Spirit are all so special to me, it was so heartwarming to see that picture in the slideshow and know that I mean as much to them as they do to me!
To all cast, crew and staff of Spirit of Newfoundland, I’d like to thank you all for your help each night, for bringing laughter, smiles and friendship and making everything alright. You have made such a huge impact on my life and for that I am forever grateful! Here’s to another 20 years! Long may your big jib draw!