Review of Hare Band cabaret Starring Bridget Ryan

Come Sail Away, Living on a Prayer and Orionco Flow were just some of the songs that could be heard opening night of Year of the Rabbit/Hare Band cabaret and art show. Sail away is just what the audience did; they sailed away down a musical memory lane to the 1980s.
The performance was held in the Catalyst Theatre on Gateway Boulevard in Old Strathcona. The show is a mix of 80s music, and canvas and stone artworks expressing the elements of fire, water, earth and metal in the year of the rabbit. Rabbit inspired artwork was the starting point,since this is the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac. The title of Edmonton based artist Jason Carter’s art show seems fitting for this part of the show. And it’s not just a show, but an experience.

From start to finish Bridget Ryan along with her four piece band; comprised of Jennifer McMillan (keyboard and vocals), John McMillan (vocals) Andrew Miller (drums), and Connor Walsh on bass guitar were, to cite an old 80s adage, totally radical!

Ryan, a 30 year veteran of the stage, (who can also be seen Monday to Friday on CityTv’s BreakfastTelevision). enthralled audience members with her powerful alto voice. Ryan seemed quite at home on stage and it showed. So did the band’s keyboardist/vocalist and other band members.

McMillan, an active member of Edmonton’s musical theatre community, held her own displaying her soprano capabilities and range for all to hear. With at least one solo, McMillan proved herself a tour de force. McMillan also proves her knowledge and talent in music by having arranged the songs to suit the band’s unique,unfettered sound. Including arranging one song to be an original bluegrass sounding rendition.

Carter, created beautiful “rabbit” works of art. Embracing the simplicity and beauty of rabbits, his canvas painting and stone carvings are telling of a talented artist. The rabbits on canvas for instance, lay stationary but seemed to show the spirit of rabbits nonetheless. The stone rabbit sculptures showed rabbits in various forms. Some were at rest, content to sit on their laurels while other pieces showed rabbits standing at alert replete with ears perked upward as if sensing impending danger. Carter works alongside Ryan Monday to Friday as a cameraman for Breakfast Television.

Throughout the course of the evening’s performance, the audience learned just what each of the four elements meant, as they stand within the Chinese zodiac. The elements are listed as fire, earth, water and metal. Currently we are half way through the year of the metal rabbit. As the show progressed, each group of songs were likened to one of the four elements. For example, Orionco Flow by pop star Enya was said to symbolize water.

With music of the 80s, band members’ hair plastered in hair sprayed giving them all a rebel style look, canvas painted and stone carved rabbits in the stage’s background; Year of the Rabbit/Hare Band cabaret and art show proves a must see for “bunnies 13 years and older,” as the website for the cabaret says.

Part of the proceeds for each performance of the Hare Band cabaret is slated to go to the Youth Emergency Shelter Society, which works with at risk youth.

Parental advisory on the humour however as it is really rather adult throughout the show.

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