by Lynn on November 15, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at Koerner Hall, produced by the Musical Stage Company, Toronto, Ont. Playing until Nov. 17, 2023.

Arrangements, orchestrations and music co-supervision, Kevin Wong

Co-arranger, co-orchestrator, and music co-supervisor, Jonathan Corkal-Astorga

Script curation, Jason Spetter

Staging, Kaylee Harwood

Lighting by Mathilda Kane

Cast: Jully Black

Nathan Carroll

Sara Farb

Eva Foote

Kelly Holiff

Lydia Persaud

Vinnie Alberto

Taylor Garwood

The Orchestra:

Piano/conductor/violin, Kevin Wong

Piano/guitar, Jonathan Corkal-Astorga

Drums/percussion, Jamie Drake

Bass, Eric Larson

Over the last several years the Musical Stage Company has created concerts devoted to the music of specific artists such as: The Beatles, ABBA and Dolly Parton, for example. The concerts are called “Uncovered” because the company delves deeply into the music and lyrics to uncover their secrets and inner lives.

This year’s offering is “Uncovered: Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.” The songs in the concert are curated by Kevin Wong, arranger, orchestrator and music co-supervisor and Kaylee Harwood who staged the work and was responsible for dramaturgy. Jason Spetter was responsible for the script curation. Much research went into not only the songs, but also the history of each band, culling information from interviews, quotes and biographical material. Most of the quotes are from band members and in a few cases, the members of the cast.

Much was made of the tension involved in each band. Both Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles were groups in which the band members were always at odds with each other. In the Eagles the members were: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Vince Gill, Deacon Frey, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder. There were feuds, firings, jealousies, disagreements, fights, disbandments and reuniting.

The members of Fleetwood Mac were: Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, John McVie, and Mick Fleetwood. In this case it also involved pairings and unpairings between the women of the band and the men. Since both bands were composed of musicians who also wrote the songs, matters could get complicated with jealousies and often produced the most incredible albums of music.

Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac is quoted as saying how depressing it was to spend the whole day with band members with whom you had a personal relationship but the few hours on stage singing and making music together was sublime. Anyone who has heard the albums of both bands knows what Stevie Nicks meant. The words and music conjure such emotions of love, regret, disappointment, uncertainty, joy, and ecstasy.

Some of the best musical interpreters are in the cast of “Uncovered: Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.” Sara Farb has a way with a mournful song like “Go Your Own Way” by Lindsey Buckingham; Nathan Carroll brings out a wistfulness in “Hotel California, (Don Felder, Don Henley, & J.D. Souther), ” Kelly Holiff is rousing in whatever she sings (Desperado by Glenn Frey & Don Henley, Rocky Mountain Way by Joe Walsh, Rocke Grace, Kenny Passarelli & Joe Vitale), Eva Foote brings a thoughtfulness to “The Boys of Summer” (Don Henley and Mike Campbell), and in just two songs Jully Black illuminates why she is at the top of her game singing “Edge of Seventeen” (Stevie Nicks) and the “Heart of the Matter” (Mike Campbell, Don Henley, & J.D. Souther). They were joined by Lydia Persaud and Vinnie Alberto and Taylor Garwood, the last two are the 2022-23 Syd and Shirley Banks Prize winners. Kevin Wong did multiple duty, besides doing the arrangements, orchestrations and music co-supervision, he also played the piano, violin and sang “Landslide” (Stevie Nicks).

It’s obvious care was taken to try and illuminate the depth of the music and the lyrics. Kaylee Harwood not only stages the concert, she provided dramaturgy to the script. It’s presented in Koerner Hall, probably one of the most acoustically pristine halls in the country if not wider.

Why, then, did I find the whole enterprise so disappointing and dispiriting? Let’s start with the music and lyrics—some of my favourite works—I couldn’t hear them. While most songs began quietly, slowly, thoughtfully, at a certain point near the beginning of each number, the band bashed in, playing as loudly as possible, mixed with the back up groups, singing as loudly as possible and the lead singer(s) also singing as loudly as possible. The sound was ear-splitting. The music and lyrics were drowned out. In some cases—hello Kevin Wong—the enunciation was non-existent. I have one word written next to the song “Rocky Mountain Way”—noise!

Perhaps I was too close in about the fifth row. During intermission I moved to the last row, behind the creative folks and the man ‘regulating’ the sound. Same thing—unintelligible. It’s called “Uncovered” It’s not a rock concert in a huge venue. It’s a concert that delves deeply into the music and lyrics of two leading, iconic, music changing bands, presented in a hall noted for its acoustics, and I can’t hear the music and lyrics—the reason why I’m in the room in the first place. Does no one check for this imbalance? Obviously not since this problem is on going for the Musical Stage Company. Is it not important? Think again.

The Musical Stage Company presents:

Playing until Nov. 17, 2023.

Running time: 2 hours (1 intermission)

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1 Shocked November 18, 2023 at 8:33 pm

Good thing probably nobody else is going to see this incredibly inane review. You should probably get your ears checked. My review of your review is worse than your review of this show.