Saturday, July 6, 2019

Happy 25th Anniversary to Oh Canada Eh

I've written before about the talented folks down at Oh Canada Eh? dinner theatre down in Niagara Falls, and with their 25th Anniversary celebrations currently underway I thought another visit was in order.

Last weekend Sophie & I paired up with dear friends Joanne & Gino Deloisio to catch the latest version of their long-running salute to Canadian music.  We went on a Sunday night and the place was packed, so that tells you something about the staying power of this venerable institution.

It's hard to believe it was 1994 when an old colleague of mine, Jim Cooper got together with like-minded theatre souls to launch the dinner theatre on Lundy's Lane.  From those humble beginnings the tradition started, and today a tight-knit nucleus of young local talent takes to the small stage six days a week to entertain locals and tourists alike.

The current roster includes, depending on the performance, Rylan Allen, Chelsea DiFranco, Emily Draper, Aidan Eddy, Andrew Goff, Ian Harte, Dayna Harold, Morgan Hilliker, Connor Jesso, Nathanael Judah, Louisa O'Keane, Melissa Penner, Adrianna Polita, Alexandra Reed, Dexter Sonier, Brandon Stafford, Sue Thibert, Matthew Yipchuck and Ann-Marie Zammit.  Add to that several musicians as well as technical and front of house staff and you have a good-sized group to welcome you to the familiar log cabin.

One of the special elements of an Oh Canada Eh show is the performers are also your servers.  Doing double duty is no easy task, as evidenced by our server Ann-Marie, simultaneously singing in the finale while dealing with a recalcitrant credit card processing machine for the other family at our table.  These performers know their stuff and how to get the job done.

The dinner is the usual fare, which is served during breaks in the show and is always piping hot from the kitchen, with special dietary requirements filled with ease.  The service is family style which may not be to everyone's liking, but it certainly fits with the family-friendly nature of the show.

The show itself we had seen before, but the musical tribute to all things Canadian has been updated for the anniversary show with some newer cast members and costumes, choreography, set and about 30 minutes of new musical material.  The music covers the Canadian scene from basically before there ever was one to modern day, ranging from nostalgic gems such as the Indian Love Call from the movie Rose Marie all the way up to music by Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen.  A nice touch in the Moose Paper handed out after the show is a complete list of all the songs in the show, who popularized it and where the performer(s) hail from.

It's a much more traditional show than the 70s show we caught almost two years ago, so the production values are much more basic here.  But don't take that as a criticism of the show; it simply means you'll see less showy lighting effects and more Canadian music you grew up with.

The big news this season is the fact there is now a second Oh Canada Eh? dinner theatre up and running in Ottawa.  Opening just in time for the Canada Day long weekend, the new venue is run by some familiar Oh Canada Eh? faces:  J.F. Grenier and Meaghan Chapin along with Michelle Chapin.  Grenier & Meaghan first met years ago here in Niagara performing at Oh Canada Eh? and eventually married.  Moving to the nation's capital they decided to basically pick up the show and move another version of it there.  Early word is the new venue is quickly picking up a following in Ottawa as well.

Sophie & I have been fans of Oh Canada Eh? for a long time, and wish them well for at least another 25 years.  They provide great entertainment and solid value for Niagara locals and tourists alike no matter what show is on stage at the moment.

For tickets and more information, including how you can still take advantage of their current anniversary promotion, check out their website at or call them toll free at 1-800-467-2071.

Have a great weekend!

July 6th, 2019.

No comments: