Multi-talented en­ter­tainer stages one-man show for TryLight fundraiser

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - LOCAL NEWS - REG CLAY­TON

There’s a new per­form­ing artist in Kenora and his name is Mark LaBelle.

LaBelle isn’t ex­actly the ‘new guy in town’ as the veteran singer/en­ter­tainer has per­formed here in the past while criss­cross­ing Canada ear­lier in his ca­reer.

How­ever, the one-man show he presented on the TryLight Theatre stage at First Bap­tist Church on Thursday, July 6, was his first solo per­for­mance since be­com­ing a Kenora res­i­dent about two years ago.

Com­mu­nity theatre regulars will re­call LaBelle as the mu­sic man be­hind this year’s pro­duc­tion of the Lake of the Woods Mu­seum’s va­ri­ety show Rat Portage Fol­lies in March.

This time out, it was just LaBelle and his key­boards shar­ing his unique mix of mu­sic and com­edy ap­pro­pri- ately ti­tled Mu­si­com­ica with the au­di­ence. He presented the even­ing of hu­mour and songs as a fundrais­ing ben­e­fit for TryLight Theatre.

LaBelle opened his show by shar­ing with the au­di­ence de­tails of his youth and per­sonal in­sights in the jour­ney which ul­ti­mately brought him and his fam­ily to re­side in Kenora. Some of the de­tails he shared in­cluded record­ing his first song at age 14 in Mon­treal and later host­ing his own ra­dio pro­gram on CBC.

An en­gag­ing and mul­ti­tal­ented per­former, LaBelle in­ter­acted with the au­di­ence with char­ac­ter­is­tic gen­tly­chid­ing hu­mour, seem­ingly cre­at­ing the show spon­ta­neously as the even­ing pro­gressed through a mu­si­cal reper­toire rang­ing from opera to The Mup­pets.

In­deed, the au­di­ence cap­ti­vated by LaBelle’s con­stant repar­tee be­tween songs, didn’t know what to ex­pect next when he sang the “The Rain­bow Con­nec­tion” from The Mup­pets Movie, not only as Ker­mit the frog but also so­los in the voices of the 12 most pop­u­lar char­ac­ters from the 70s TV show.

Then mov­ing to the clas­sics, LaBelle turned his deep bari­tone to sing an aria from a pop­u­lar Ital­ian opera, only to tran­si­tion mo­ments later to a more re­cent ver­sion by Spike Mul­li­gan of Goon Show fame.

The first set wrapped up with a rous­ing ren­di­tion of the coun­try clas­sic “Rawhide” with au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion on the cho­rus ac­com­pa­nied by sound­man for the even­ing Jan Boutwell on the whiplash.

LaBelle promised even more shenani­gans in the sec­ond half of the show. He de­liv­ered as promised with vo­cal im­pres­sions of Johnny Cash and Paul Si­mon per­form­ing well-known hits to “Scar­bor­ough Fair” as sung by Gor­don Light­foot, Leonard Co­hen and Corey Hart. “What a Won­der­ful World” fol­lowed as origi- nally recorded by Louis Arm­strong but with David Bowie and John Lennon chim­ing in on the cho­rus.

LaBelle con­cluded the even­ing with sev­eral well­known­songsin­hisown­pow­er­ful voice, in­clud­ing a sen­ti­men- tal bal­lad by John Prine, “Back to Pooh Cor­ner” by Kenny Log­gins and his own ver­sion of “Those Were the Days”.

To say a mem­o­rable even­ing was had by all who at­tended is an un­der­state­ment given the stand­ing ov­tion by an ap­pre- cia­tive au­di­ence fol­low­ing the fi­nale. LaBelle is sure to be back on stage shar­ing his nat­u­ral gifts as a multi-talented en­ter­tainer. Only next time he is likely to re­quire a larger venue to ac­com­mo­date the crowd.

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