Shadow Theatre's upcoming show brings musical light to dark times
By Jesse Cole | October 18, 2023
Sometimes it’s the little things — like a community choir — that guide us through the darkest of times.
That’s one of the messages behind a new performance premiering at Shadow Theatre this week.
Crescendo, premiering Oct. 18 and running until Nov. 5, tells the story of the community that’s formed between several women who sing in a choir and what happens when that music is taken away. The play is both a funny and tender examination of the joy of music and the connections it can bring us when we need it most.
Written by Edmonton’s Sandy Paddick (Naked Lies, Back Pocket Lennie, Enchantment), the performance is inspired by Paddick’s own experience singing in a choir and the stories she found therein.
“I started to ask people why they sing and what made them join,” Paddick says. “I got such great answers and wonderful stories and I thought this would make a really good play.”
The play also plumbs the depths of what happens when connections are severed, as was the case early in the COVID-19 pandemic when Paddick’s choir was unable to meet in person. Instead, they would meet in parking lots and sing from their cars.
“I started thinking, what happens when you can’t sing anymore? What happens when that’s taken away?” Paddick says.
The play is directed by Kate Ryan, who has a storied theatre career in Alberta, having directed renditions of Sweeney Todd, Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia! and others through her company Plain Jane Theatre.
Despite being lifelong friends, Ryan and Paddick haven’t worked together until Crescendo. But Ryan says she was inspired to get involved upon reading the script.
“The first time I read (Crescendo) was at a table read … I went to Sandy right away and said I thought it was a beautiful and impactful piece,” Ryan says.
Directing Crescendo has been exciting, says Ryan, who allowed herself to lean into the messiness of human relationships and theatre when directing the performance.
“This play is so much about relationships and the human spirit. There are these really rich, detailed characters in the play that are all trying to move through something really hard in their life,” she says. “It’s messy, and sometimes the rehearsals are messy. It’s a messy process but I feel like that’s really important with this play. It’s not a binary situation. It’s a beautiful mess.”