This week, we reached an exciting milestone in the lockdown/restrictions stage of the pandemic: live theatre was back on for the first time in almost twenty months. My last event review (March 13th, 2020), was Dancing at Lughnasa by Three Sisters Theatre Company and Seven Thirty Productions at The Gladstone Theatre, so it is fitting that this first live performance was also from Three Sisters!
No-Show: Songs from Lost Gigs was a perfect re-introduction to the (hopefully) post-pandemic theatre scene here in Ottawa. The concept of the show is really unique and clever: a concert/theatre/music festival-loving couple, Scott Richardson and Robin Guy, who normally attend a variety of concerts each year, perform songs from shows that were cancelled during the pandemic. During the performance, they explained that in March of 2020, when the pandemic began wreaking havoc on the event industry and concerts began to be cancelled or postponed, Richardson began trying to learn a new song each day. Over the course of the lockdown, this evolved, and the idea of No-Show was born. Richardson and Guy began to select significant and meaningful songs from each of the cancelled concerts that they had intended on seeing live. Veteran performers Richardson and Guy once again demonstrated their incredible musical abilities in this production.
This performance features their own renditions of these songs, and at the same time, is a beautiful tribute to the artists themselves. Some of the missed concerts included Hawksley Workman, Sloan, Arlo Guthrie, Hamilton, Alanis Morrissette, and Blue Rodeo, among others. Richardson and Guy have a unique, and very likeable performance style which I first experienced when I saw them in Lightfoot in Song (Bear and Company), back in October of 2019. They work exceptionally well together, and create a casual, comfortable environment that encourages audience participation, and their ability to tell stories allows them to connect with their audience in an intimate way not often seen in live shows. It has an off-script feel, as though they are not performing, but just chatting with their friends (the audience). While No-Show felt slightly more scripted than Lightfoot in Song, it still allowed for some back and forth comments between the two and some situationally relevant remarks about instrument tuning and small errors on stage.
At the start of the show, the performance felt somewhat slow-paced. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I was initially uncertain about whether I would enjoy it, as I didn’t recognize any of the songs that they had selected, despite being familiar with the original artists. However, that quickly passed as I was reminded of the talent of both Richardson and Guy, and as I realized that their set list seemed to have been meticulously curated with songs that were relevant to the theme of the show. If you are expecting a “best of” selection from these performers, you will be disappointed. But if you listen carefully to the lyrics of each song, you will find that each has a meaningful message, adding depth and emotion to the show. What could have very easily become a performance reminiscent of a cover band, instead was an evocative, thoughtful homage to some amazing musicians and their music.
Richardson is an incredibly likeable performer. His voice has a familiar, warm quality, and this is true whether he is singing or speaking. The way that he tells stories makes you feel as though you are his closest friend, and that it is just the two of you, hanging out, jamming and chatting. Musically, he appears to be a jack of all trades, delivering beautiful performances vocally and on both the piano and the guitar.
Guy is a force! Her vocals on some of the songs gave me goosebumps; she is clearly a very strong vocalist, and this really took the show to the next level. She also plays both the piano and the guitar, and she has this quality of musicality that had the audience tapping their feet and clapping along.
Together, Richardson and Guy make a great team. Their interactions are genuine, their harmonies effortless. I found myself smiling behind my mask for most of the performance. Personal highlights for me were the mashup they did (it was a request, and felt impromptu), and the final song, “S’iomadh Rid (The Dhith Om/Ciamar A Ni Mi),” which they did as a tribute to Dancing at Lughnasa, which, due to the pandemic, was cancelled halfway through its run.
No-Show is running at The Gladstone Theatre for two weeks. COVID protocols are in affect and are enforced efficiently and effectively. The seats appear to be limited, despite the recent lifting of restrictions. Patrons are seated in every second row, and on opening night, there were at least three seats vacant between groups. You’ll need to provide proof of vaccination on entering, and social distancing is encouraged. The bar is open, so you can indulge in a beverage at the start of the show with a large selection including wine, spirits, and local craft beer from Tooth and Nail or Dominion (my favourite). If you’re not comfortable venturing into public just yet, you still have the opportunity to see this show via LIVESTREAM. You can purchase tickets and enjoy the show from the comfort of your own home. Details and tickets are available through The Gladstone box office on their website. The running time of the performance is about 90 minutes with no intermission. It was really great to get out to the theatre again, and I’m looking forward to more shows in the near future as restrictions are removed and we transition to our new normal. If you like to support local, this show is a great opportunity to do that, and also enjoy a night out!
Stay healthy and be kind to one another.