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Review: The Stratford Festival's FINALLY THERE'S SUN Cabaret takes Audiences on a Poignant Journey through the past 18 Months

Once Again, Ross and Farb Bring us a Moving and Memorable Cabaret

Review: The Stratford Festival's FINALLY THERE'S SUN Cabaret takes Audiences on a Poignant Journey through the past 18 Months

The Stratford Festival's production of the FINALLY THERE'S SUN Cabaret allows us to reflect on the challenges, triumphs, hope, and self discovery that accompanied the past year and a half. No two people had the exact same journey through the pandemic, but this cabaret manages to capture the commonalities between us all while also shedding light on unique experiences as well. This cabaret truly takes the audience on a journey through the good, bad, and the unimaginable while always maintaining a sense of beauty. The final numbers of the cabaret will lift your spirits and send you off into the world with a spring in your step and hope in your heart.

This cabaret was curated and directed by Steve Ross and Sara Farb, who both also sing in it. This is not the first cabaret these two have worked on together and like their previous projects, they have assembled incredible talent and selected poignant music. Joining Ross and Farb are Festival newcomers Germaine Konji and Noah Beemer. All four singers are incredible talents and everyone has multiple moments to shine.

FINALLY THERE'S SUN opens with the quartet singing "Something Just Broke" from Sondheim's ASSASSINS, but with changes to the spoken lyrics to focus on the moment news broke about the pandemic. This sets the tone for the show and each subsequent number feels equally as appropriate. There is not a dull moment in this entire cabaret, but some numbers I continue to think about days later include Farb's breathtaking performance of "Poetry" from the musical LIFE AFTER (which was written by Stratford's own Britta Johnson), Beemer's show-stopping rendition of "Midnight Radio" from HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, Ross' beautiful performance of "Hope" by Jason Robert Brown, and Konji's incredibly powerful performance of her own song/spoken word piece, "The Smearing of Silent Blood." I am so excited to see and hear more from Konji and if this number is any indication of their talent as a writer and performer, we will all be hearing more very soon.

The singers are joined by a top notch band of Franklin Brasz on keyboard, Dave Campion on drums, Dave Thompson on guitar, and Michael McClennan on bass. At one point during the cabaret, the singers speak of the things that they all have done during the pandemic - whether it is taking up a new hobby, or making a special purchase, etc. They also share something each band member has done and then extend it even further to include members of production, close friends, etc. This moment is so special and so relatable. It is wonderful to see all of these talented people performing again and one does naturally wonder what they have been up to during all this time away. It is so nice for the audience to be part of this little check-in and it reinforces that feeling of shared humanity that this cabaret is exploring.

Something this cabaret does well is to not shy away from the difficult topics. A lot happened and continues to happen during this pandemic - from police brutality and attacks on Black lives, to the devastating death toll of COVID. A lot of challenges and injustices continue to devastate us. It is this cabaret's honest and unfiltered acknowledgement of suffering and inequality that allows the equally honest calls for hope and light to resonate so strongly. By the time the quartet is celebrating the vaccine and performing Dolly Parton's "Light of a Clear Blue Morning," I predict there will be hopeful tears in the eyes of many an audience member. All I know for sure is that I immediately added this song to my personal 'Songs the Pandemic Inspired' playlist.

What is so beautiful about this cabaret is that it meets its audience exactly where we are emotionally and it allows us to unpack the shared grief and growth of the past 18 months. What's more, it allows us all to do it together.

I fear I have made this cabaret sound depressing so it is important that I make it clear that the reason why it isn't, is because the depressing thing it addresses is something we all have already been experiencing anyway! There's no avoiding that. What this production does so well is give us permission to express and feel hope and joy again. FINALLY THERE'S SUN indeed.

FINALLY THERE'S SUN continues until September 26th.

Photo Credit: David Hou

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From This Author - Lauren Gienow

Based out of Stratford, Ontario, Lauren is an Occupational Therapist working in mental health by day and a BWW Contributor by night (or by matinee). Lauren enjoys daring new productions, classic pl... (read more about this author)

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