Review by Darcy Cudmore
It was opening night at The Guild on Tuesday for the Stan Rogers: A Matter of Heart show. Fans of Rogers’ music will not leave disappointed after seeing the cast perform over 25 of his most well-known folk songs, telling Stan’s stories as if they were their own.
Geordie Brown is the director, designer and definitive leader of the production. He is also a huge part of the show, starring in much of it. His performance of Rogers’ most popular song, Barrett’s Privateers, early on in the first act and his telling of the story inside Song of the Candle were a few highlights of Brown at his best.
He’s joined by a large and very qualified cast, varying in age and background but all contributing to the show in very big ways.
Lucas Popowich and Alex Baerg each deliver a stellar performance as they take up a large portion of the singing. Popowich sang the Rogers classic I was most looking forward to, The Idiot, and did a tremendous job with it. But it was Baerg’s rendition of Try Like the Devil that might have stolen the show.
The ladies of the show, Maria Campbell, Nadia Haddad and Celia Koughan, tell stories of old ships, fishing and other topics you’d find in a folk song written for the common Maritimer in convincing fashion. Campbell’s swing-like rendition of a Rogers classic and Koughan’s step dancing received a good holler from the sold out crowd at The Guild.
The backbone of the music is provided by Andrew Murray and Aaron Crane. Murray plays the acoustic, electric and bass guitar throughout the show while Crane jumps from the fiddle, keyboard, bass and more. Julien Kitson joins on the bass guitar or drums for much of the set as well. He also has a number of chances to sing, his presence and abilities making you question if he is actually only 14-years-old.
Shawnte Clow makes things happen behind the curtain as the stage manager.
Throughout the show, members of the show tell the story of Rogers’ life and the success he found with his songs. Though born in Ontario, Rogers spent a lot of time with family in Nova Scotia, falling in love with the way of the Maritimes. His songs connected with the hard working people in fisheries, mining, farming and more, telling stories of people you could mistake for yourself just by the descriptive writing Stan was known for.
Those who may not be familiar with the songs of Stan Rogers should enjoy the show as well. As someone born almost 10 years after the death of the legendary songwriter, after getting in from the show I was searching Rogers’ name online, wanting to listen to more of his music.
It’s a job well done by all involved with the production. If Stan Rogers was able to see his songs performed by such talented people, I think he would approve. For a show that is based around the heart, the cast definitely put theirs into this fiery opening performance at The Guild.
Stan Rogers: A Matter of Heart will run until September 28, playing every Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 pm.