Last Saturday night I saw Canada ROCKS! at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. If you haven’t been to the Confed Centre (as locals call it) you really must visit. I have been to big theatre centres in Toronto, New York, and London yet none of them quite compare to seeing a show here. On a smaller scale, but just as grand. Recently renovated, the seating is comfortable, every spot has a great view, and the lighting is perfect to view but not blind. The best part is the connection between the actors and audience in this venue– cheers and claps can always be heard throughout a show without being disruptive.
Canada ROCKS! takes viewers on a musical journey throughout Canada from west to east. There are songs for all ages (the full spectrum from Justin Bieber to Anne Murray) interspersed with history and a storyline of young lovers being reunited. The result is an engaging and charming musical that had me singing in my seat more than a few times. The type of songs that can bring you back to a moment in time, perhaps your first school dance or a road trip with the tunes blaring.
It is our national soundtrack speckled with local Confed Centre flavour – proving once again that they can consistently stage outstanding theatre performances. The entire audience was engaged as an Ian & Sylvia tune had everyone over 50 cheering and more than a few feet were tapping to The Tragically Hip. The renditions of Rita MacNeil’s “Working Man” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” brought me to tears by the standout voices of Terry Hatty (former Guess Who vocalist) and Susan Henley.
The lighthearted musical warrants a big night out with a visit to Mavor’s in the Confed Centre for dinner (the burger and the pad thai are some of my favourites) and a stop at Victoria Row after the show. Lined with outdoor patios and serenaded by live music most nights, Victoria Row is only open to pedestrian traffic in the summertime. Complete with two new entrants this season, Row House Lobster Co. and John Brown Richmond Street Grille, you can find anything from fine dining to the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing drink on this cosmopolitan strip. Like Confed Centre, there is an energy here reminiscent of bigger cities – without the long waits for tables! We had a fabulous end to our evening at Fishbones, discussing the show and people watching.
With the impending early wake-up call of children, we had to call it a night just when things were just heating up on the Row. Perhaps in 10 years time we’ll get to stay out past the stroke of midnight but for now – dinner, a show, and a drink is the perfect summer night out in Charlottetown.