The Big Spirit Reunion Gala


Hey blog world! For those of you who don’t know, this year marks the 20th anniversary of one of my favorite things in the world, Spirit of Newfoundland!! To celebrate this milestone, they put off a gala concert at Holy Heart! The show opened on Thursday and closed last night. I was lucky enough to be there all three nights!

In my spare time I love to paint and I sell my paintings to raise money for the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund! Spirit of Newfoundland means so much to me and I want to do all that I can to save their home, the Masonic Temple! Huge thank you to Peter, Kathie and Paul who allowed me to set up a table during the three nights of the gala so I could try to sell my artwork to people who came to see the show.

Spirit Art Holy Heart

I absolutely loved sitting at my booth all three nights. I really enjoy interacting with people as they come to look at my artwork. There was one young girl in particular that I’m really happy I met and got to talk to. On Thursday night, a young girl named Alicia (I hope I got the spelling right!) who sings with the Shallaway choir came over to my table and admired all my paintings. She took one of my bio cards and then went on her way again. Later, she returned for another look and we had a chat! We talked about splatter painting and how her and her friend once came up with the idea of filling water balloons with paint and throwing them at a giant canvas and how my snowman painting reminded her of a time she made a snowman and used tons of carrots to make his different body parts. Friday night, she returned, money in hand, wanting to buy a painting. She had so many that she liked that she couldn’t decide! She had to do eenie, meenie, miny, moe to choose!! A few minutes after she bought her painting, she came back again with the painting in one hand and a pen in the other and asked for my autograph! That made my night! I felt really special! She came back for another visit and chat last night. Seeing her coming made me smile! She’s a really cool person with lots of interesting stories! I really hope our paths will cross again sometime. If you come across this Alicia, I’m very, very happy that I met you and that we became friends!

On Friday night, I got to see the show with my friend Laura! We both thought it was absolutely spectacular!!

The show started with video greetings from many different people, then Sheila Williams pretended to be an Air Canada flight attendant doing some pre-flight announcements. I thought that was a very funny way to introduce the show and go over a few basic rules for the evening (put your phones on airplane mode, pictures and video are allowed but wait till after the show to post them on social media, don’t kick the seat in front of you, etc.)

We got to see a scene from Spirit’s very first show “Hard Tickets In High Society” performed by the original cast of the show, Peter Halley, Sheila Williams, Michelle Doyle, Steve Gosse and Shelley Neville! The scene was very funny and their performance of “Away From The Roll Of The Sea” was mesmerizing!

Next, it was Christmastime for the hard tickets and high societies! Lady Maxine (Sheila) had just found out that her husband Johnny (Peter) lost their tavern in a poker game. To win it back from Sandra Sandoval (I can’t remember the name of the character she played) they decided to have a sing-off! Her and Georgina Stirling, both absolute divas battled it out until Georgina could no longer sing. It’s a shame she wasn’t able to continue. While I do really, really like Sandra Sandoval’s jazzy vocals, Shelley won me over with her stunning operatic performance. Because she couldn’t go on, they had to find someone else. Michelle Doyle’s character (whose name I have also forgotten) took her place. She too has an amazing, jazzy voice! In the end, yes she won the tavern back for her aunt Maxine! Yay!

Mallory Johnson, who is making quite a name for herself in the country music world (her song “Tupelo” ranked in the top 10 on the iTunes country charts for a while! You know you’ve made it big when!) sang one of her original songs, “Pedestal”. I had goosebumps! She is a very talented songwriter with a stunning voice! Congratulations on all that you’ve achieved so far Mallory and I wish you more and more success in the future.

One of my most favorite shows I’ve seen at Spirit of Newfoundland was “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”. It’s a touching, funny, slightly scary look at the life cycle of a relationship from first dates to childbirth and so on. My favorite scene and song from the show is “Funerals Are For Dating/ I Can Live With That”. Seeing it in the show on Friday night made me so happy! So much so that I cried a little. Roberta Simmons-Smith played Margaret. This was my first time seeing her perform. I thought she was a fabulous singer with a really lovely voice! This was one of my favorite parts of act 1!

After that, Shelley Neville and Calvin Powell performed together. They sang “The Prayer”.  Both of them have such magnificent voices on their own, but when they sang together that night it sounded angelic! This was such a breathtaking, beautiful performance.

Another one of my favorite parts of act 1 was when the Ennis Sisters performed. They sang “If Anything Happened To You” which is one of my most favorite songs! It means a lot to me. When I was born, the doctors found what they thought was fluid on my brain. They didn’t know if I was going to live or die and they prepared my parents for the worst. After further testing they had good news and bad news. Good news: no fluid on my brain, bad news: a piece is missing! I have no Corpus Callosum, the wide band of fibres that connects the left and right sides of the brain and transmits information between the two. I was the first case of Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum that those doctors had seen and so because they knew little about it, they still weren’t sure if I was going to live or die and they told my parents that. Dad heard “If Anything Happened To You” on the radio and he broke down and cried. He said that song was exactly how he felt about me not knowing what my fate would be. He sang it to me every night when I was little. It was amazing getting to hear Karen, Maureen and Patricia perform it live! I came so close to crying! After that song, they brought Shallaway out onto the stage with them. Together they sang “We Rise Again”. My jaw hit the floor! For such young children (they looked about maybe 12 years old) they had unbelievable, angelic voices!

Cheri Carrol is gorgeous inside and out. She’s a very sweet, kind person. I’ve gotten to know her over these past few years through her son Ian (whose personality matches hers exactly, excellent parenting Cheri and Sean!) who is a Shallaway chorister and a voice student of Peter Halley and has performed in many concerts and events throughout the province. Every time I’ve seen a show with him in it Cheri has been there supporting him. During the second act of the show on Friday was the first time that I’d ever heard Cheri sing. She performed “Growing Up Catholic” from “Nunsense”. I was amazed! She has a beautiful voice! I hope I’ll get to hear her again soon!

Sister Robert Anne was not the only one of the Little Sisters Of Hoboken to grace the stage that evening. Reverend Mother and Sister Mary Hubert (Sheila Williams and Shelley Neville) were there as well to perform “Just A Couple A Sisters”! I love it when they do this song! It’s hilarious and always makes me laugh til it hurts!

Keith Power and Dana Parsons had me roaring with laughter when they performed “St. John’s Girl”! Again, I was laughing till my stomach hurt! This was my favorite part of act two! Dana the skeet stole the show! I lalalalaloves ‘er!

Darrin Martin talked about his struggles with mental illness, which by the way I’m very proud of him for doing. It takes a lot of courage to do something like that. He also told us that the stigma of mental illness is finally starting to lift! It’s about time! It made me so happy to hear that! As a tribute to George Earles, a deceased member of the Spirit family who also had struggle with mental illness, Darrin and the entire cast of the show sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Darrin has such a powerful voice and I’m always in awe whenever I hear him sing. Paired with the over 50 other voices singing this song of hope it was the most spectacular thing I’d ever heard!

The last few numbers of the show were awesome! Jeff Sims, Erin Winsor, Keith Power, and Kara Noftle performed “Ordinary Day” by Great Big Sea and Lukey’s Boat, a traditional Newfoundland song. Then, they were joined on stage by the cast of “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop” to perform “Mamma Mia”, and lastly everyone in the show came out to sing “Sweet Caroline” as confetti flew through the air! My heart overflowed with happiness during all three of these songs as I danced and sang along with everyone! What a way to end off the show!!

To everyone at Spirit of Newfoundland, thank you. Thank you for the music, memories and magic you have created for so many people all over the world! Thank you also for your friendship. It means a lot to me that Spirit I fit in and am accepted and have many close friends in the cast, crew and staff. As I often say, everyone at Spirit has a heart that’s three sizes too big! Here’s to many, many more years Spirit of Newfoundland! Long may your big jib draw!

Leah

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Mucho Burrito


Hola blog world! Today was a work day so as I always do, I stopped into the Avalon Mall for lunch. They recently opened a new restaurant in the food court! Mucho Burrito, Fresh Mexican Grill. All summer I’d seen their space between the KFC and A&W blocked off, with a message on the door saying “Not opening soon enough”, darn right! I love Mexican food and seeing their opening soon sign was almost like a form of torture! I couldn’t wait to finally eat there! Today was the big day!

I got to the counter and was really pleased to see that it operated like Subway. All the ingredients were laid out in bins in front of you and you could choose what you wanted and see your food get made right in front of your eyes!

I looked at the menu and saw that there were loads of options! Quesadillas, bowls, tacos, salads, burritos, so much to choose from! It was hard for me to decide, but eventually, having not had one in ages, I decided to have a burrito today. Saying that lead to me having more options and things to choose from. I really like that this restaurant has at least a million possibilities and so many different things to choose from, something for everybody! My burrito had a white tortilla, barbacoa, pico de gallo, cilantro, rice, sour cream, peppers, cheese and black beans.

I was then offered a combo. I could get a drink and one of two other things, a bag of nachos and a dip of my choice, or two cookies. The chocolate chip cookies looked really yummy, but I love nachos and it’s rare when I get to have them so that’s what I went with! I went with mild salsa as my dip. I had ginger ale from the soda fountain for my drink. I was surprised and pleased to see ginger ale available from a soda fountain, I think this was the first time I’ve seen that!

I ordered a small burrito, but yet it was absolutely huge! If that’s the small, then I can’t imagine what their extra large burrito must look like!! This is what it looks like from the outside


and from the inside


I also couldn’t get over the size of the nacho bag!


It’s pretty big and they filled it up almost completely! I’m only one person and cannot manage to take down that big a burrito and that many nachos in one sitting! I knew for certain there would be leftovers!
When I took a bite of the burrito, it was great! The tortilla was nice and warm. There was loads of barbacoa beef and it was cooked perfectly and had a nice smoky taste to it. With each bite I’d get that smoky taste, combined with just a hint of spice that was noticeable but not overpowering. I loved how fresh the pico de gallo was! the tomatoes were ripe and juicy and I could taste a hint of lime in there as well which I thought was a nice little accent. The rice and beans both tasted very good as well.

Then, I ate a nacho and some salsa. Holy firetruck, I must learn their recipe! It was the best salsa I’ve ever tasted! Chunky, fresh tasting, a nice hit of sweetness from the tomatoes, not overly spicy, absolutely perfect! The nachos were really yummy as well! Perfectly crunchy and not too salty. I’m looking forward to melting some cheese over my leftovers later tonight and having that for a bedtime snack!


I’m so pleased that this restaurant uses fresh ingredients and makes all their salsa’s and other dips/condiments in house. It makes a huge difference in terms of taste and flavor and it makes the food healthier for you as well which is absolutely wonderful!

I do have a few criticisms about the meal though. They were a bit skimpy on the peppers. I only got three. I would have liked to have seen a few more. Also, the sour cream was a bit too sour. I got a bit of that with every bite as well and it wasn’t a very pleasant taste. Other than those two things, I enjoyed my meal.

I was very pleased with my experience at Mucho Burrito today! It’s a little pricy ($14.75 was my total today), but there is friendly service and fresh, healthy, good tasting food. I will be back again and recommend that you eat here too! Mucho Burrito gets 5/10 stars

Leah

Mamma Mia


Hey blog world! In 2009, when I was 12 years old, my mom took me on a trip to New York City because I’m obsessed with musical theater and had always wanted to see a show on Broadway. One of the shows we took in on our trip was “Mamma Mia”. It was absolutely incredible! Last Saturday night, I had the chance to see a local production staged by Theatre St. John’s and Broadway didn’t hold a candle to it! This was even better!

My date to the show was my boyfriend Glen! Last Saturday evening was very special because a: we haven’t had a date night in forever because of both of our busy schedules, and b: the tickets to the show were my present to Glen for his 29th Birthday back in May. Neither of us could wait for the big day to come and when it finally did, both of us were super giddy and excited to get to the theater and see the show!

When we arrived at the theater, we got quite the surprise! Erin Winsor was there selling cookies! Erin is such a lovely person, if she doesn’t make you smile your heart is made of stone! It was wonderful to see her and have a chat. The cookies she was selling were baked by Craig Pike, brother of Keith Pike, the artistic director of Theatre St. John’s. Craig also played the role of Bill. I wish I had thought to bring my wallet because the cookies looked amazing! There were peanut butter cookies that had Reese’s Cups smushed into the middle! I’m drooling just typing about them! I hope someday I’ll get to taste one!

Soon it was time to enter the auditorium. When the lights went down, Keith Pike came onstage. He talked a little bit about Theatre St. John’s and he gave us a dance lesson! He got the entire audience up on their feet and taught us a disco routine for the ABBA Megamix Finale! It was so much fun!!

Finally, the moment we had been waiting for arrived! The show started!!! Julia Dunne was in the role of Sophie. She is a beautiful young girl inside and out! She has such a pretty voice. She opened the show with “I Have A Dream” and it was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard! I asked Glen what he thought of her performance, “Rockin’!” was his answer. I couldn’t agree more. All throughout the show she totally rocked!

Tina Maddigan Mayer played Donna. Fun fact, she originated the role of Sophie on Broadway!! When she came out on stage and sang her first song “Money, Money, Money”, it came as no surprise to me that she was once a Broadway star! What an unbelieveable voice she’s got!

In the next scene, Harry (Peter Halley) discovered the old guitar that he had bought for Donna was still in the tavern, then he picked it up and played “Thank You For The Music”! Peter never ceases to amaze me! He is a man of many, many talents! He’s good at sports (He’s a great bowler and he’s incredible at swim races! Blink and you’ll miss him! He turns into the Flash!), he’s tutored me in several subjects (no matter what subject I throw at him, be it World History, Inclusion or Positive Behavior Guidance he’s always willing to help me with homework or studying) and of course he’s very artistically talented! He’s a phenomenal singer and pianist, a fantastic writer (all his shows at Spirit of Newfoundland are spectacular! Also, we spent the past two years writing a show together! Not to toot our own horns but it’s excellent!), and apparently also a really great guitar player! There’s nothing he can’t do! Getting back to the show, I was already absolutely loving “Thank You For The Music” because it’s one of my favorite ABBA songs and Peter was doing a lovely job of singing and playing it, but then Sophie joined in! It sounded even better! Their two voices blending together sounded angelic! This performance made my heart feel warm and fuzzy inside! I almost cried happy tears!

It’s a shame in my opinion that Donna and the Dynamo’s were back together for one night and one night only! Shelley, Michelle and Tina, please consider reprising your roles and doing a full concert! I would pay to come see it! The scenes and songs with you three in them together were my favorites in the show! You were hilarious and so full of energy, sass and fun, and all three of you have stunning voices! Glen’s favorite song in the show was one that involved you three, “Dancing Queen”! That is Glen’s favorite song of all time and he lit up when you sang it! You made his night!

The ensemble of this show was spectacular! They all had great singing voices! And the dancing, oh my firetrucking God! I couldn’t believe the choreography! Flips, high kicks, disco, all of it blew my mind! This was the best choreography I’ve ever seen in any show ever!

While still on the subject of choreography, “Lay All Your Love On Me”, now that was something else! Kudos to all the men in the ensemble, how they were able to dance in wet suits and flippers is beyond me! That tight rubber doesn’t seem like it allows much range of movement. It must have been difficult to dance in! Even so, they pulled off some really impressive moves, made it look easy, and made me crack up laughing throughout the whole number! Dancing men in wet suits and flippers strikes me as very funny!

Another thing I really liked about that number was getting to hear Sky (Adam Charles) sing! He was phenomenal! A better Sky couldn’t be found in my opinion! I hope this won’t be the last time I see him! Glen hopes the same! Adam was Glen’s favorite performer! He said about Adam “I likes that nice, good boyfriend. He’s a good singer! I want to be like him!”

When it came time for the intermission, sweet Glen burst into tears! He cried on my shoulder for quite some time because of how happy he was to be there and how much he loved the show! That made my heart overflow and I almost started crying too!

My favorite song from act II was “The Winner Takes It All”. That is my all time favorite ABBA song and Tina really showed off her powerhouse vocals in this number! It was breathtaking!

The dad’s had some great musical moments in Act II as well! One of which was “Take A Chance On Me”. Rosie (Shelley Neville) was trying to seduce Bill and he was not ok with it… at first anyway! This was my favorite scene in the show involving Bill. I love his voice and thought he was very funny in this song, trying to get away from Rosie! Sam’s performance of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” was spectacular! He too has a very powerful voice!”Our Last Summer”, where Harry and Donna reminisced about their time together was beautiful! Peter and Tina sound lovely together!

The show ended with a wedding, but this would turn out to be no ordinary day for Sophie and her wedding party! (*Spoiler alert!) It’s revealed that her dad is present! Donna is about to reveal (I think for sure it’s Sam) but Sophie doesn’t want to know! She loves all three and it doesn’t matter to her which is really her biological parent. Harry, Bill and Sam are happy to finally be part of her life and 1/3rd of a father to her. I thought that was very sweet! Also, Sophie decides she is not ready to get married after all! Not wanting to waste a wedding day, Sam proposes to Donna and she accepts! The show had a lot of feel-good moments, but this one by far was the most lovely! My heart overflowed and again I almost cried with happiness!

For those of you wondering who ordained the wedding and married Sam and Donna? None other than Father Alan Doyle!!!! Yes, the front man of Great Big Sea made a special cameo in the show! I thought that was the most awesome thing!

To cap off the show was of course the ABBA Megamix that Keith had prepared us for at the start of the evening! It was mesmerizing! Glen and I had a blast dancing and singing along!! Also, the brightly colored outfits that the dad’s and the dynamo’s were wearing looked awesome! Glen’s favorite was the red jumpsuit Geoffrey Tyler (Sam) wore because red is his favorite color. My favorite was the purple jumpsuit Peter Halley wore! Purple is my favorite color! In terms of the girls, Glen loved Shelley’s pink jumpsuit. I loved Tina’s light blue one! It was fabulous and she looked gorgeous in it!

Once the show had ended, we mingled with the cast! We actually got to go up onstage and see them! That was so cool! Glen and I loved getting to talk to and take pictures with everyone! Here are some of the ones we took on stage!

ABBA Peter

Glen and I with Peter Halley who played Harry

ABBA Tina

Donna and her backup Dynamo’s!

Alan Doyle

Me and Alan Doyle!

When we headed out to the lobby we ran into more cast members from the show. Glen was elated when he saw Adam. He turned to me with a look of sheer joy and excitement on his face and said “There’s Sky! I’m gonna get to meet him!” Adam was just as elated to meet Glen and hear that he was his favorite! The three of us talked about this show and musical theater in general. Adam is a really nice, down to earth guy. I’m glad we got to meet him.

Adam

Glen and I both will never forget that night! To everyone in the cast, band and crew, thank you for the music! I can’t wait to see what Theater St. John’s has in store next! Until next time blog world, always remember

If you see the wonder of a fairy tale, you can take the future even if you fail

Leah

Ants In Your Pants


Hey blog world! When I was little, my favorite DJ was a monkey named Lickety Split! If you were a child (or parent of a child) in the 90’s in Canada, you should hopefully know who I’m talking about. For those of you who missed out and don’t know him, Lickety Split was the host of the Treehouse TV show Ants in Your Pants that ran from 1997-2004. Lickety was a puppet monkey who lived in a tree with his mom (who was talked about often and heard occasionally, but never seen) and three pesky little carpenter ants (who spoke only in rhyme).

Today I found a bunch of episodes of the show on YouTube and honestly I almost cried I was so happy! A piece of my childhood that I thought had been lost with the times had just been unearthed! I took a long walk down memory lane, watched a few episodes and shed a few tears, absolutely overjoyed to see one of my old favorite shows again!

The best way I can think of to describe it is MTV for preschoolers. Lickety had all kinds of adventures in his tree, trying to stay up late, playing with a tape recorder, pretending to be a pirate, and in-between all the treetop fun Lickety played all the coolest music videos for little kids!

I loved to count feathers and then rock out with Al Simmons and his collections! He’s so quirky and fun!

Going “Deep In The Jungle” with Joe Scruggs and singing nanny nanny boo boo to a puppet alligator was fun too! As was hearing about his romance in the Bahamas hilariously messed up by the “psychic singers”!

I’ll never forget how excited I would get every time Charlotte Diamond’s “The Laundry” came on! The exploding washing machine was my favorite part!

Kim and Jerry Brodey were one of my most favorite performers to watch on the show! I have their “Hats On, Hats Off” VHS and when I was little I watched it all the time! “Garbage, No, No,No” was my favorite. Back then, I loved it because of the music. It’s got a tropical island kind of groove to it, complete with steel drums! Now, I still love it because of the music, but now that I’m older, I appreciate the songs message a lot more. Don’t just drop your garbage wherever! You’ve got to put it in the can man!

The Magpies were another one of my favorites! For one thing, they had a keen sense of style. I loved their vests! They also were very versatile with their music. “Robert The Polar Bear” is a soothing a capella masterpiece! The three part harmony is fantastic! “He’s An Emotional Guy” is a whirlwind of fun! Again, I don’t know any names but the person playing Johnny Fink is incredible! He truly does put a lot of emotion into the performance! He plays out each one, even the two most difficult emotions expressed in the song, remorseful and overstimulated extremely well! The Irish jig near the end of the song is also really well done! I love every minute of that video! Fair warning though, if you choose to watch it it will get stuck in your head!

Another staple of my childhood was Judy and David! I never missed an episode of “Judy and David’s Boombox”! I found out recently that they are in fact still on the go and that makes my heart so happy! I think it’s wonderful that they are still performing and bringing fun and dancing to a new generation of kids! My most favorite of their videos on “Ants In Your Pants”, hands down is “Funky Teapot“! It’s the coolest! David’s rap is the best part!

John Lithgow is known mainly for his role in “Third Rock From The Sun”, but to us 90’s kids, he was a silly old man who big kids used to scare the heck out of! Back in the day, he was a children’s entertainer! His song “Big Kids” was one of the songs I looked most forward to hearing on “Ants in Your Pants”. Every time the show came on I’d hope Lickety would play it for me! If not, I’d settle for his rendition of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round The Mountain” which always cracked me up!

Michael Burgess, who played Jean Valjean in the Toronto production of “Les Misérables” (and sang with 16 other international Valjeans in the show’s 10th anniversary concert!) also was on “Ants In Your Pants” back in the day! He had a couple of music videos on the show. My favorite both visually and musically was “Star In My Eye“. The song itself is absolutely beautiful and I really liked that the video was shot on a beach as he played with his children.

While I loved many music videos on “Ants In Your Pants”, there were some videos that I wasn’t the fondest of. One of them was “Aram Sam Sam” by Dutch Robinson. For some reason, it frightened me! I’d scream and run for my mom/dad and ask them to help me change the channel. I watched it again today and wondered what in the world I was so scared of! “The Shark” by Sandra Beech produced the same reaction! After re-watching that one, I’m not scared of it anymore either. Now, I actually think it kind of funny, especially the ending. Douglas John’s “Ug A Bug” was just plain creepy! Especially at the start and end of the video when his face is on the old sepia colored picture of one of his ancestors and is looking around. Yikes! The creepiness factor has not lowered any! Still when I watch “Ants In Your Pants” on YouTube I skip past that one! Some of the songs were rather annoying. “Trucks Everywhere” is one. The repetitiveness, cheesy truck puns and overacting of the singer (Doug Barr) just really annoy the heck out of me! I don’t remember if that’s how I felt about that song when I was little, but rediscovering it now, all I have to say is, to quote the song, “Oh dear, let’s get out of here!”… and listen to Doug’s better song “Dinosaur Chomp“!

I had such a wonderful, magical afternoon today revisiting the childhood gem that was “Ants In Your Pants”! If you would like to share “Ants In Your Pants” with any children in your life, relive your old memories or experience the show for the first time, the Lickety Split YouTube channel is the perfect place to go! You’ll find full episodes and music videos from the show!

Do you remember “Ants In Your Pants”? What was your favorite music video from the show? Tell me in the comments!

Leah

Best Spirit Moments: Offstage


Hey blog world! Not only do I have lots of wonderful memories of the Spirit of NL shows I’ve seen, but lots of amazing things have happened away from the stage as well!

On my first day ever working at Spirit, Evan Smith, who by the way is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, showed me around the downstairs area of Spirit. I’d only ever been down there to use the washroom, I’d never seen what was behind the many other doors. Evan showed me the prop closet, boardroom, and my favorite stop on the tour, the costume room! It was so cool!

Last year, I went to Spirit to film some of their rehearsal of the Christmas show “Three Wise Men and Other Christmas Miracles” and interview some of the cast. I decided to talk to John Williams as he was a fresh face at Spirit and thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of the newest member. We got to the Screech Room, sat down at a table and dad turned the camera on. I looked at it and said “I’m here in the Screech Room with…” my mind went blank! At that moment this is what was happening inside my brain. I stared blankly at the camera for a minute then said “Holy cow! I forgot your name!” and turned beet red! John had a good laugh out of it, he reintroduced himself and we tried again. I look back and laugh at it now too, but I was super embarrassed when it happened!

Darrell Tulk is a former chef at Spirit. He had great taste in music! He loves classic rock and his favorite band is the Rolling Stones. He’s even got their logo tattooed on his arm! When he’d be in the kitchen cooking the meal for the show that night, he’d turn on K-Rock and sing along with all the songs they played! I used to love listening to him. He had a good voice!

After work one day, Kathie Hicks (the COO of Spirit) and I went into the kitchen and made black bean chocolate cupcakes. It was a lot of fun! I had never made cupcakes like that before, I didn’t even know black beans could be a substitute for flour! I tried one when they had cooled off and it was yummy! I learned something new, tried a new food and got to do it all with a person I really like. It was a good day.

In 2015, I went to see Spirit of Newfoundland’s Christmas show “Three Wise Men (And Other Christmas Miracles)” and I brought something special for the cast. I made edible lumps of coal and Christmas cards for them! Before the show, I popped into the bar to give them their little treats. Just before I was about to leave, the cast got in a circle for their pre-show pep talk.  Peter outstretched his hand and said, “Leah, come join our circle!” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard! It’s a right of passage at Spirit to be included in the circle! I was honored! We stood together, talked about the show and the cast gave each other some encouragement and a pep talk. At the end we all shouted “Hard tickets!” That was one of the most unforgettable nights of my life!

My boyfriend Glen and I love the card game “Exploding Kittens”. We were introduced to the game at our Church youth group and we got hooked! I bought it on Amazon and Glen and I play it every chance we get. One night, we went to see “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop”, which by the way is my favorite Spirit show, and I just so happened to have the game in my purse. At the end of the night, we decided to sit in the Screech Room and have a game while we waited for dad. We invited Peter to join in and he did! He found it hard to catch on to the game, but he tried his best! Glen and I had fun teaching him how to play.

Last summer, we started offering New Amsterdam Peach Vodka in our bar. To celebrate the new arrival, we did a live stream on Facebook and threw a fancy hat party! Hats

In 2015, the Ennis Sisters performed onstage at Spirit of Newfoundland as part of “A Paperboy’s Blues Night”, a fundraiser to turn Kevin Lewis’s memoir into a play. My dad and I went to the show together. We are huge fans of the girls and one of their songs in particular has a very special meaning to the two of us. When I was a baby, the doctors found what they had thought was fluid on my brain. They prepared my parents for the worst. They didn’t know if I was going to live or die. After further tests, they told my parents there was good news and bad. The good news, there was no fluid on my brain. The bad news, a piece of my brain was missing, the Corpus Callosum, a wide band of fibres that connects the left and right side of my brain and facilitates communication between both sides. This was something they’d never seen before and because this was their very first experienced case, they didn’t know anything about it and again were not sure if I would live or die. My Dad heard “If Anything Happened To You” by the Ennis Sisters on the radio one day and he just broke down crying. He sang that song to me every day. During the intermission of “A Paperboy’s Blues Night” I actually got to meet Karen, Maureen and Teresa! They are such sweet girls! It was such an honor to meet them and tell them my story!

My boyfriend and I have a special anniversary tradition. To celebrate our special day, we take in the Christmas luncheon at Spirit of Newfoundland. Last year, Glen made a special request to Peter, asking him to sing “Jingle Bells”. Peter forgot to do so. After the show, Glen told Peter that he forgot. To make it up to Glen, he said “Come in the Screech Room, we’ll do it now!” We all had so much fun and sounded great together!

One day as I was working, local actress and singer Julia Halfyard came in with her children Estelle and Seth. While she attended to some business I got to watch them! We played with bubbles, talked about Mermaids and I read them a story I wrote! That was one of my favorite days at work that summer!

Last summer, to help raise money for the Masonic Temple Restoration Fund, I started selling my artwork. By August, I had collected $160! On my last day of work, I presented the check to Kathie Hicks (the COO), Paul Bugge (the general manager) and Peter Halley (the president and artistic director). I was overjoyed to be able to give them that much money to help fix up the Temple. Spirit of Newfoundland and the Masonic Temple mean the world to me! The cast and staff of Spirit are my second family and the Temple is my second home.

Congratulations on 20 years Spirit of Newfoundland! Here’s to many more years of making memories!

Leah

Best Spirit Moments: On Stage


Hey, blog world! For those of you who don’t know, my favorite place in the world (Spirit of Newfoundland) turns 20 this year!!! Yay!!! I have been a fan of theirs since I was 10 years old. To date, I have been to 33 of their shows and have loved every minute of each one! I loved some so much that I’ve seen them multiple times (I’ve seen “Duet Yourself” and “Where Once They Stood” twice and “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop” 4 times!) A few nights ago, I saw their newest show, “The Young and the Rest Of Us” and in it, they showcased their favorite moments from past shows! I thought I would do the same! Here are some of my favorite moments from shows done by Spirit of Newfoundland!

  • Victoria Badcock (whom I heard passed away last year. R.I.P sweet lady) made a special guest appearance in Spirit’s 100th-anniversary celebration of Bowering Park in 2014. She was there on that day 100 years ago when the park opened. Hearing her stories of the events of that day was incredible!
  • In 2014, they remounted “Grinch Dressing & Gravy” for the Christmas season. It was a Newfoundland… or rather “Whofoundland” adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss story. At the end of the show, there’s quite the plot twist! It’s revealed to the Grinch that all thanks to the night he spent in the back of a Jetta in the Whovelon Mall parking lot with Martha-May Who, he is Cindy-Lou Who’s father. This happens post heart growth, so of course, the news makes him very happy! He gives her a big hug. It’s so sweet!
  • The year before that, they performed “Christmas Around The World”. Michael Power delivered the most beautiful monologue! “Christmas Memories From Around The Bay”. He was Poppy John who was spending Christmas in St. John’s with his family. He doesn’t feel quite at home. There’s so much chaos going on Christmas morning with beeping, buzzing, his grandkids tearing open their presents, etc. Then… the power goes out. Poppy John becomes the center of attention as he recounts stories from his Christmases past.
  • In the summer of 2014, they performed “Beatles: Back In The N.F.L.D” and one of the segments of the show was called “Beatles: Through The Ages”. The best part of that was when they rapped “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”! It sounded awesome!
  • Whenever Michael Power plays a skeet, he always has a smoke. I don’t know how he does it, but he blows smoke rings! It astounds me every time! It’s the coolest thing!
  • In “Sinatra On The Rocks” last summer, Evan Smith absolutely blew my mind when he played piano backward! He sat on top of the back of the piano, leaned over and played the keys! I couldn’t believe it!
  • I got to perform on stage with Spirit of Newfoundland on various occasions. Peter Halley and I performed “Think Of Me” from “Phantom of the Opera” at the Mother’s Day brunch in 2014. Both of us forgot the words, but we did our best! I also got to perform “The Mummer’s Song” with Janet Cull at the Christmas luncheon in 2013, which was a ton of fun. In 2015, I got to perform “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on stage at the Christmas luncheon with Shelley and Peter and share with the audience why that song means so much to me. Each time I got to go on stage, it was the absolute most incredible feeling! Getting to perform with my wonderful friends and musical idols was a dream come true for me!
  • Boomer Stamp is Spirit of Newfoundland’s drummer, and was also formerly the drummer for the Wonderful Grand Band. Not only this, but he is also a comic genius! He writes a lot of parodies that are used in Spirit of Newfoundland shows! There is no video evidence of this on YouTube, though I wish there was, but one of his best in my opinion was his parody of “Galway Bay”

Maybe one day I’ll go back again to Ireland, if me dear old wife would only pass away. Sure she’s got me heart broke with her bloody naggin’! She’s got a mouth the size of Galway Bay!

  • In 2014, Spirit of Newfoundland performed in my neck of the woods! They performed their show “Skeets, Snobs & Peppermint Nobs” at the Legion as part of the Kelligrews Soiree. In that show, Erin Winsor sang a “proper English” version of our Newfoundland classic “I’se Da B’y!” This is the original

I’se da b’y dat builds da boat and I’se da b’y dat sails ‘er. I’se da b’y dat catches da fish and brings ’em home to Lizer

And this is Erin’s version

I am the boy who constructed the vessel. I am the boy who navigated it. I am the boy who apprehended the species and transported them home to Elizabeth.

She sang it in an operatic way and my jaw nearly hit the floor! It was absolutely breathtaking!

  • In 2011, I went with my parents to see “ABBA: Gotta Get The Scoop”. Peter told the audience that his favorite ABBA song is one that is sung by the girls, but is from the perspective of two men. He asked the audience if they knew what song it was (click here to find out). I assumed that question answering protocol at a fancy dinner theater show such as this was the same as at school, so I raised my hand to answer the question. Peter was astounded by this! He said he felt like he was back in his classroom! He thought I was very polite for raising my hand. Later in the show, he asked another question to the audience, does anyone have a favorite ABBA song that hasn’t yet been sung. Again, I raised my hand to answer. He was talking to a group of ladies when he saw my hand in the air. He told them that their answer is void now because they were not as polite as I was and didn’t raise their hands! This by far is my most favorite onstage moment at Spirit, because it led to me getting to meet Peter after the show. We very quickly became best friends!
  • “Funerals Are For Dating” is my favorite scene from the show “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”. The scene is set in a funeral home and the characters in this scene are Margaret, an elderly woman who has accompanied her friend to a wake, and Barry who has arrived early for the 4:30 wake he was to be attending. They cross paths and begin talking to each other and eventually Barry starts hitting on Margaret! This scene, and the accompanying song “I Can Live With That” make me laugh a lot and make my heart feel happy, especially the last line of the song when they say to each other

No matter, I can live with you

Seniors in love is the sweetest thing!

  • Near the end of “Where Once They Stood”, the cast (Kara Noftle, John Williams, Keith Power, Sheila Williams, Shelley Neville and Peter Halley) sing “Willie McBride”. It’s hauntingly beautiful! Especially when they harmonize on the chorus. I got chills both times I heard them perform it.
  • In 2015, they did a show called “Women Doin’ Men”. Please retrieve your minds from the gutter, because the title does not mean what you think it does! Anyway, Kelly-Ann Evans was one of the stars of the show and she is an absolutely phenomenal performer! She did a tribute to Freddy Mercury and not only looked absolutely smot in her outfit, but she brought the house down with her killer performance of “Somebody To Love”! To use one of her words, I thought that part of the show was amaze-balls!
  • Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the Spirit of Newfoundland song! That’s my favorite part of any night out at Spirit! It’s such a beautiful song that makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy inside.

There you have it! My favorite onstage moments from Spirit of Newfoundland shows! Come back tomorrow to see my favorite memories away from the stage!

Leah

 

The Young and the Rest Of Us


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!

Beatles Back in the N.F.L.D 013

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!

Leah