The cast of Fiddler on the Loose, clockwise from top left: Klinger’s Lix, Mark Laidman, Diane Chase, Janelle Murray, Mark Payne, Alex Baerg, Jesse Grandmont, Dan Baerg (photo credit: VPP Staff)
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia (411 Greenfield Street, Petrolia) presents Fiddler on the Loose, onstage until June 2. For tickets, call 1-800-717-7694 / email@example.com
Catch this Fiddler while you can: VPP introduces Fiddler on the Loose
~ Amie Ronald-Morgan
London, ON - Jesse Grandmont is on the loose in Petrolia.
It was only a matter of time before the 22-year-old violinist extraordinaire would be starring in his own show – fittingly, at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia where he became a staple performer in the company’s musically-based shows last season.
Now, Grandmont is back to help kick-off VPP’s summer playbill in Fiddler on the Loose, an energetic show described as “all country-Celtic-classical fiddle-playing, all stepdancing, all music, all the time,” by VPP artistic director David Hogan.
“Jesse was in our big hit last year, Country Sunshine; he also played the violin for Michael (Learned) and Ralph (Waite) in Love Letters. He’s been in our Starbright Christmas and our Country Christmas Jamboree, and now here he is starring in his own show that we have conceived for him – because he is just that talented,” Hogan enthused.
Fiddler on the Loose is on the boards at Petrolia until June 2.
“Having my own show has been such an incredible experience. It has been so cool to see it all come together. It has been a lot more work than before, but it’s so worth it,” Grandmont added.
Written by Hogan’s co-artistic director, David Rogers, the show is in the vein of Country Sunshine, one of VPP’s most popular shows last season. Audiences clearly enjoyed the variety-style concept; ticket sales reached an amazing 87 percent of capacity over its two week run.
“Fiddler on the Loose is very much your classic variety show. So if you remember Jack Benny and those types of musical variety shows, that’s exactly what you’re going to get. We are featuring and celebrating fiddle music and the versatility of it. Jack Benny was a great violinist himself. Jesse is not just one type of fiddle player, he handles different styles so effortlessly, so he is just extraordinary to watch,” Hogan explained.
Grandmont hopes that audiences walk away with an appreciation of not only the high calibre of talent they saw onstage, but off the stage as well.
“This is my fifth show in Petrolia and everyone who is involved – from the cast to the crew to the band –is all so talented! Rehearsals and performances are always so fun with this group of people. Working with David (Hogan) and David (Rogers) is such an honour as well. They are both so brilliant,” he said.
Sharing the stage is Janelle Murray, whom audiences will recognize from Country Sunshine; well-known Canadian country singer Diane Chase, and Stephanie Cadman, who has travelled the world with her own touring production, Celtic Blaze.
The foursome is accompanied by music director Mark Payne and his Starbright Band. In the spirit of a true variety show, there will be comedy skits interspersed throughout the dancing and musical numbers.
As well as entertaining the audience with her fleet-footed stepdancing, Cadman will be fiddling alongside Grandmont. Chase and Murray will delight with such songs as Dust in the Wind, Devil went Down to Georgia, You Raise Me Up, Tennessee Waltz, Jolene, Orange Blossom Special, and more.
“There’s also some contemporary music in there from Footloose, and they’re doing some classical music too – but [Grandmont] plays Mozart with a real flair. The band even gets dressed up and participates in the skits. It is really quite funny. So with the laughs and the country to the waltzes and the Irish jigs, it’s a fast-pacing, heart-beating, high-energy show, which is exactly what we wanted to start our season with,” Hogan said.
“During one of the previews, someone said ‘well , you can’t take a nap during that one!’”
Catch this Fiddler before the show closes on June 2.