Comment: Porchside Songs with Sara Farb and Britta Johnson

by Lynn on August 9, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

A concert of songs, live and in person on the front yard of a private residence.

Created and performed by Sara Farb and Britta Johnson

The always resourceful Musical Stage Company has come up with a wonderful idea to keep musical theatre alive, employ talented theatre makers and engage, friends, family and neighbours in the event called Porchside Songs.

The idea is simple. A host or hosts books a concert usually involving two musicians/singers, perhaps more, who will create a 45-minute concert to be performed on a front porch, lawn, or front yard of a private home, in which the host/hosts invite the neighbours to come, bring their own chair and enjoy.

I’d heard about these wonderful concerts and wanted to hear one but didn’t know how to go about it. Then the lovely folks at The Musical Stage Company enquired of a host if I could come and hear the concert he arranged, and the gracious host said yes. I will keep his name a secret in case he’s inundated by the music lovers in the area to make this a regular Saturday night occurrence.

On Saturday, Aug. 7 I went to the front yard of a house on a leafy street off Bathurst near St. Clair to hear Sara Farb and Britta Johnson do a concert they call “Sad Lady Songs.” Individually these ladies are powerhouses. Sara Farb has acted across the country, on Broadway in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, at the Stratford Festival and in Fun Home for Mirvish Productions, to name a few. Britta Johnson is a force in musical theatre in this city. She wrote the musical Life After for Canadian Stage which played internationally; with her sister Anika she wrote Dr. Silver, A Celebration of Life, with Liza Balkan she wrote The Children Stay. With Sara Farb she wrote Kelly v. Kelly and He is Coming. Together they are a force to be reckoned with.

The dynamic duo chose eight songs to showcase their considerable talents. The songs were a celebration of complicated women. Six of the songs were from shows that either Sara Farb and Britta Johnson wrote together or Britta wrote with others. They also sang “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell and “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn who the duo said was a terrific Swedish singer. (Who knew?)

Sara Farb has a glistening voice that plumbs the depths and heights of the emotions in the songs. Britta Johnson is an attentive accompanist as well as an expressive singer in her own right. Some people’s skin sweats. Britta’s skin seems to emit music. Music is in her fingers. Both women bring a wonderful sense of the perfect lyric to express an emotion. Their sense of language is terrific. Their banter is teasing and good natured with Sara Farb asking if the amplification on Britta’s keyboard could be brought down a bit. T’was ever thus—finding the proper balance of sound between the singers and the accompaniment.

The hosts plastered the neighbourhood with posters announcing the concert and to come and enjoy it. People flocked. Kids came with their parents. People stood in the street if they didn’t have a chair. Everybody had a great time. Glad I heard/saw this gifted duo.

Produced by the Musical Stage Company.

For details on Porchside Songs, contact:

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1 Аркадий August 19, 2021 at 5:09 pm

“We were making a few changes before rehearsals, but we were all ready to get into it,” says Johnson, who wrote the music and lyrics, with Farb supplying the book. “I think there’s every intention for it to happen eventually. I just hope it’ll be as soon as it can be.”