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Shelburne Rotary celebrates 80th birthday in style

April 19, 2018   ·   0 Comments

Written By Marni Walsh

Local politicians and dignitaries filled the front row at Shelburne Rotary Club’s 80th anniversary celebrations April 12 at Grace Tipling Hall. Rotarian Bill Waite welcomed Rotary District Governor Kathi Dick, Assistant District Governor Ingrid Sproxton, and Shelburne Rotary President Sandra Gallaugher. Also present were Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson, who brought regards from the leader of the opposition, and Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones, along with Town of Shelburne Councillor Steve Anderson, both offering warm wishes of congratulations.

The Hall was filled with Rotarians and supporters, all there to celebrate the Shelburne Rotary Club’s many accomplishments since 1938, and to enjoy the evening’s main event – Leisa Way and the Wayward Wind Band performing their musical stage show Oh, Canada We Sing for Thee.

Before the performance began, Rotarians and former Rotarians stood at their seats among the audience, in recognition of their hard work and contribution to the community over many years. The longest standing member Bob Carruthers was given special appreciation for his over 50 years of “service above self.”

“We truly had a fantastic time performing for everyone on Thursday night,” Ms. Way told the Free Press. “It felt special to me to know that we were performing for folks from my own community who have done so much over the years to make this area the greatest and most artistic spot in all of Canada. It was an honour to celebrate the Rotary’s 80th anniversary by performing such a patriotic show.”

“The Rotary spoiled us, of course, and took great care of us,” said Ms. Way. “It was a joy to work with the crew at Grace Tipling – Dale Lundy from LP Stage Productions and his student technicians, Justin DaSilva and Brodie Ireton, did an amazing job. It always makes me happy when a venue mentors and empowers young people.”

Ms. Way, who resides in Orangeville, continues a bright career in music and theatre that began at a very young age. She has performed for major theatres and centres across North America and the globe, including solo performances for Queen Elizabeth. With a powerhouse voice that seems to know no bounds, to say Leisa Way and the Wayward Wind Band “wowed” the audience is no exaggeration. Oh, Canada We Sing for Thee was first class entertainment all the ‘Way.’

Under the musical arrangement of local master Bruce Ley, the mix and flow of the entire show was stellar – and so important – the sound projection and quality was perfect for the small theatre. Simply put, no one does it better than Mr. Ley.

Performed more than 80 times across the country last year for sesquicentennial celebrations, Oh, Canada We Sing for Thee showcased the best of Canadian musicians from multiple genres, including celebrated artists such as Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot, Michael Buble, Shania Twain, Leonard Cohen, Buffy Ste. Marie, and Joni Mitchell, as well as famed Canadian bands like BTO, The Guess Who and many more.

Ms. Way and the band shared jokes and points of interest throughout the show, switching musical personalities and costumes with unfaltering energy and a pure joy of performing that could be felt in the back row and beyond.

“A good concert is always give and take,” says Leisa Way. “We, the performers always try to give our best show every time, but truthfully, the more responsive an audience is, the more we will give…Thursday night’s audience gave us a lot!”

“When the audience gives back, by participating and laughing and singing along,” she says, “something magical happens for me. It’s the reason I’ve stayed in this crazy business as long as I have – I love putting smiles on people’s faces and in their hearts.”

One of the many things that made Oh Canada We Sing for Thee special last Thursday night was the performers’ mutual and musical respect for each other. Everyone shared the stage with great generosity, and a fondness and pride in the others’ talents, which was very evident when they performed their solo sets. Reading their bios, it is not hard to see why – along with Ms. Way, the five multi-talented singers and instrumentalists included Fred Smith, who has performed with greats like Chuck Berry, “The Supremes,” “The Drifters,” and “The Mamas & The Papas;” Bobby Prochaska, a Broadway veteran from Buddy Holly and the original production of Crazy For You at the Royal Alex; violin player Nathan Smith, who is just as at home playing a Don Messer tune as he is playing with the Ottawa Symphony; Musical Arranger Bruce Ley, who was Tommy Hunter’s pianist and is the composer of a film nominated for an Academy Award; and drummer Sam Cino, a versatile percussionist of Métis descent, who plays with the popular rock group “Fiddlestyx.”

“I have a marvellous band,” says Ms. Way. “I am so lucky to share the stage with these talented gentlemen, and I love creating new shows for us, because we’ve really become a team that works so well together. More importantly, each one of them is a very special human being, and that’s what allows us to travel so much together and spend so much time together. Last year we traveled to over 42 cities together with our shows, and by the end of the year – we still liked each other – that’s an accomplishment.”

Thursday night marked five months since the cast last performed Oh Canada We Sing for Thee. Ms. Way said, “It felt marvellous to sing this show again. It really is, as they say, like putting on an old sweater – a hockey sweater!” She calls it a joy to remind audiences how lucky we are and how much we, as Canadians, have to be proud of.

“With the recent tragedy in Humboldt,” she said, “an area where we spent a lot of time on tour recently, nine cities and small towns in Saskatchewan, I was proud to put that hockey jersey on, and proud to look out and see some audience members wearing them, and proud to see that hockey stick at the front door of Grace Tipling Hall.”

For those who wish to follow Leisa Way and the Wayward Wind Band, their upcoming Ontario shows include:

April 23 to May 4: Opry Gold (New show) at Upper Canada Playhouse, Morrisburg
May 21 to June 2: Across the Pond (British Invasion show) at Port Stanley Festival Theatre
June 8 to 9: Opry Gold at Theatre Aquarius, Hamilton
June 26 to July 7: Across the Pond at Globus Theatre, Bobcaygeon
July 10 to 14: Across the Pond at Theatre Collingwood
August 1: Across the Pond at the beach in Grand Bend
August 2: Rhinestone Cowgirl (Dolly Parton) Outdoors at Fonthill Bandshell, near Niagara
August 7 to 10: Opry Gold at Bluewater Summer Playhouse, Kincardine

Rotary President and Co-Chair of the Heritage Music Festival, Sandra Gallaugher says, “It was a great celebration. I would like to thank everyone who came out and supported Shelburne Rotary’s 80th Anniversary.”

All profits from the 80th anniversary presentation of Oh Canada We Sing for Thee go to support the many great causes that the Shelburne Rotary Club champions including: Headwaters Hospital, Breakfast Clubs at local Elementary Schools, the Robotics Club, The Door, Minor Hockey, Camp Enterprise, the Blood Donor Clinic, and many more. For more information on how to become involved in the Shelburne Rotary Club, contact Sandra Gallaugher 519-925-2006. Be sure to stay up to date with all the news on the Rotary’s biggest fundraiser of the year – The Heritage Music Festival, including the Old Time Fiddle Contest running August 8th-12th in Shelburne.

         

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