On the Horizon - July 12

Introducing a new season of entertainment

I want to take a quick moment to thank everyone who came out to Jubilee Park for Canada Day last week. It was very disappointing that the weather was so uncooperative, since it takes such a huge amount of effort to put on an event of that size. Unfortunately, outdoor events in Alberta always run the risk of weather delays or interruptions, but I’m super proud to say that even when several communities in the area cancelled their events, we persevered. Despite having to close some activities and cancel some Community Stage performances for safety reasons, we managed to keep a lot open for those who stayed. As I’m sure you can understand, it’s just not possible to have an indoor “backup venue” for an event this size – imagine moving the K-Days midway, the Folk Festival, or an Eskimos game. Weather is a risk we take when programming outdoor community events. On the bright side, it didn’t snow! And we got some great pictures of kids splashing in mud puddles, having the time of their lives, and couples dancing in the rain. The evening turned out great, with fantastic music and fireworks to celebrate our country. Along with all the volunteers, staff, and artists, thank you for sticking it out with us.

Moving on, a new Horizon Stage season has been unveiled, and the initial response has been great! There have been some really great conversations about upcoming shows, and I think that’s one of my favourite things about this time of year. From the time we start with sneak previews, I love hearing your thoughts. Some people want to share stories of why they’ve chosen to see a particular artist, and some want to be convinced. Being open to new experiences is key to finding something truly special. You never really know where a new favourite will come from; my teenage son laughed at me the other day when I said I really liked a song he was playing. Apparently it was some obscure metal band – who knew? I definitely don’t like everything they do, but I liked that song, and it reminded me to be open to possibilities the same as I always say to you.

With that being said, I want to share some of my thoughts on the upcoming season. Since it’s unrealistic to hope you will buy everything, my real goal is to persuade you to try something a little out of your usual picks, at the same time as filling your calendar with easy choices.

You’ll see that our brochure design has a bit of a retro look to it. I mean, records - actual vinyl. We thought that was a fun way to highlight some throwback shows, meaning either the content is retro or it’s a show we’ve hosted previously and is back by popular demand. Of course we have lots of new stuff too, because that’s the kind of variety you have come to expect from Horizon Stage.

In terms of content, of our retro shows include Kenny Hess (a returning artist) with The Songs That Wrote Country Music. Mac Daddy is a Fleetwood Mac tribute, and Christine Hanson’s The Cremation of Sam McGee is based on the iconic Canadian poem by Robert Frost in 1907. Jake’s Gift has been here previously, and tells the deeply personal story of a World War II veteran. Billy McGuigan’s Rock Legends is a unique experience; there will be songs from lots of eras because it’s an audience-customized performance. Music personality quizzes will be done by those in the audience, and the band will create their set list based on the results. How cool is that? Billy was here about 4 years ago with his Buddy Holly tribute, so you know he can belt out the rock tunes. BOOM stars Rick Miller, and portrays the music, politics, and culture of the baby boom era. This is a wonderful multi-media piece of theatre and music, capturing an extraordinary time in our history, and ours is one of only four Canadian dates this season.

When we talk about returning artists, I’ve already mentioned Kenny Hess and Billy McGuigan. Add to that Jimmy Rankin’s east coast favourites, and Janelle Nadeau (formerly of Winter Harp) with her seasonal sounds of A Prairie Christmas. I consider Tiny Islands as returning even though they haven’t played at the theatre, because they entertained the crowds at Canada Day a couple years ago. Ken Lavigne is bringing a new show to Horizon Stage with Three Knights with a Tenor featuring the music of Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber… three British Knights. Clever, right? We’ll also welcome back the Cheesecake Burlesque Revue and their ladies-only workshop, renamed Tease and Tassels. Such fun!

So, what fits into the “new” category? LOTS! Nice Horse and The Abrams are both bringing new, young country music to our space. TerZettto and Rythmo are family shows from Quebec that engage the audience with their creative energy. The Red Dirt Skinners and Lloyd Spiegel are both names you likely don’t know but will be pleased by their talent. Our Singer Songwriter night with Ryan Langlois is a new concept for us, as well as a new artist. This intimate evening will be so well-suited to our space, invoking the atmosphere of festival side-stages and Nashville jams.

Naturally, there isn’t space for me to talk about all the upcoming shows at Horizon Stage in just one column. Over the next few weeks, I will feature several of our shows, in effort to give you some background that is beyond our brochure or website descriptions. I hope you’ll learn a bit, become intrigued, and take a chance on what we have to offer. Come see us!

-Brandi Watson, Theatre Manager

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