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.
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!