Markham Theatre wraps up a great season

On the heels of, arguably, its most far-reaching month of shows in terms of both quality and diversity, the Markham Theatre is looking forward to another great lineup this April. General Manager Eric Lariviere and his team have a great month planned.

“It’s another great bunch of shows,” says Lariviere.

We start the month off with two-time JUNO winner Kiran Ahluwalia and her unique brand of global music that features her much-lauded vocal performance. Joining her on April 17 at 8 p.m. will be a six-piece band featuring her partner and ace Indian guitarist Rez Abbasi. With nearly two decades of music making that has taken her from Punjabi folk and Indian classical music to what she now calls, “borderless songs”, Ahluwalia looks forward to a magical night in Markham this April.

“Kiran is a very eclectic musician,“ says Lariviere. “She’s a great singer, songwriter, and performer.”

Returning for another year, the Just For Laughs RoadShow pulls into Markham on April 18 at 8 p.m. Local audiences have been experiencing belly laughs and ear-to-ear smiles for many years with this perennial favourite which sees some of the finest comedians around take the stage for a full night of comedy.

“This is a show that our audience is always looking forward to. We don’t know yet who’s coming with the tour,“ says Lariviere, “but that’s part of the fun. They never disappoint.”

Next, on April 19, Jeans ‘n Classics: An Innocent Man – The Music of Billy Joel, takes the stage at 8 p.m Merging the music of rock with symphony performance for 27 years, Jeans and Classics offers much more than a standard tribute show. The intent is to capture the essence of legendary rock and pop albums while offering new interpretations of each song that carry a unique yet recognizable flavour that sets them apart. If this sounds like a tall order, rest assured that they bring the people-power to pull it off, as the group features many symphonic instruments as well as a complete rock band. Billy Joel’s music is a logical choice for this treatment too, as many of his best recordings feature complicated and lush arrangements that he can’t cover himself in a live setting.

“What I like about Jeans and Classics is the production,“ Lariviere says. “It’s incredible to hear their interpretations of these timeless tunes. It’s very, very, well done.”

There is, perhaps, no professional creative company that can call the Markham Theatre home like MOTUS O Dance Theatre. For nearly 40 years, the company has performed, workshopped, rehearsed, and even taught in the space. It is fitting that the company’s final piece ever, Confessions of a Professional Dancer, is going to be performed there on May 1 at 8 p.m. The show promises to reveal the deep recesses of life behind the curtain of professional dance careers. With well over 30 years to draw from, it’s sure to have much to say.

“We are honoured to host the very last performance of their farewell tour,“ Lariviere says. “Their passion, their capacity to work together, and their ability to resonate with any audience is and has always been just exceptional.”

At the age of 10, Matthew Whitaker opened for Stevie Wonder’s induction into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame. At 15, he became a Yamaha Artist, the youngest musician to join the stellar group of jazz pianists. On May 2 at 8 p.m., now 22 and one of the hottest and most sought-after names in jazz music today, Whitaker will close out the theatre’s jazz program for the year. Three acclaimed albums into what will certainly be a lifelong pursuit, Matthew believes that music connects us all. This connection is sure to be centre stage at the show in Markham.

“Whitaker is a phenomenon, and he gets a lot of attention,“ says Lariviere. “But his music is also great, and it’s a great way to finish our jazz season. He shouldn’t be missed.”

As always, the theatre features shows from independent and community producers. This April sees Markham Little Theatre close their 23/24 season with an original work, Bienvenue Oh Trout Lake, from April 24-27.

As this year’s season wraps up in May, Lariviere will be saying goodbye to Markham after 15 years. He leaves behind a legacy of great shows to be sure, but perhaps more importantly Lariviere has used programming to build an audience that reflects both the diversity and the breadth of tastes in the community. While we look forward to the future, it’s hard to overstate the impact Lariviere has had on Markham.

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Photo: Motus O showcases the company’s final piece ever, Confessions of a Professional Dancer, on May 1 at 8 p.m. 


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