This song isn’t boring

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Making Love in a Canoe takes shots at political issues while remaining entertaining

Jonathan Petrychyn
A&C Editor

From the moment Making Love in a Canoe creator and performer Kyle Golemba walked onstage, I should have known I’d be in for a more political show than what I had originally expected.

Golemba walked on stage wearing a retro CBC t-shirt (the same one he wore when I interviewed him a few weeks ago, I might add). The CBC, along with many other artistic and cultural endeavors, is under intense scrutiny in Canada under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

What a time we live in when wearing a shirt with the state broadcaster’s logo is a political act.

I just wish I had noticed the political implications before Golemba made it apparent in the second half of the show, when Golemba relayed a quote from Mavor Moore, former Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts. Moore, Golemba told the audience, was chair of the Canada Council during a time of declining arts budgets and increasing national defence, a situation, he suggested sardonically, that was impossible under the current government.
“I’m not against national defence,” said Moore, “I just want something to defend."

In a time where we’re seeing ballooning national defense budgets and shrinking arts budgets, Moore’s words are words to remember when defending the arts in Canada.

Saturday night’s audience will remember those words for the rest of their lives, letting out a collective “ahhh,” as if the idea was so self-evident that they were disappointed they didn’t think of it themselves.

This is what Making Love in a Canoe is about.

Making Love in a Canoe reminds us of the vast culture we have in Canada, and shows us parts of that culture that we didn’t know existed through its exploration and showcase of Canadian musical theatre. The show is Golemba’s sonnet to Canadian culture and his plea to the conservative governments we’re run by to remember the arts.

But, like I said, this isn’t really evident until the second half of the show.

The show is short, running at about 90 minutes with a 20 minute intermission. The show is simply a revue of Canadian musical theatre, so that leaves you with just over an hour of music and show.

Golemba is witty, charismatic, and attractive, and he demands your attention. He sings with gusto and with charm, his encore rendition of “Boring” from Jonathan Monro’s Variations on a Nervous Breakdown being a notable highlight. The loose structure of the performance, which amounts to a dozen or so songs interspersed with Golemba telling stories about his life and about Canadians, really allows Golemba to flourish.

I’ll be honest: I don’t think I recognized a single song in the revue, despite having seen Anne and Gilbert, the sequel to Anne of Green Gables, when I was in Summerside this summer. Golemba performed a song from each of those musicals, as well as songs from Larry’s Party, Variations on a Nervous Breakdown, Nobody Told Me, Stagefright, and The Last Resort.

I know these names must be ringing so many bells right now.

But despite the fact that these plays are unfamiliar to us, Golemba brought the music to life with his animated performance and willingness to be open and frank with the audience. He told the audience a few of the things he lights in a song, including loving a girl.

“For some reason I really respond to that,” Golemba said. He waited a beat before adding, “In song.”

I might not remember the titles of all the songs he sang, but it’s little things like that, little quirks in his character and the pure energy he put into the songs that made the performance truly entertaining.

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