Reviews & Previews

Lyric Theatre’s Raise Your Voice! rarin’ to rollic

There is something glorious when 47 skilled choral singers deliver a soul-lifting song in multi-part harmony.

That was clear at a May rehearsal of Montreal’s Lyric Theatre Singers where the ensemble was putting finishing touches on this year’s revue of Broadway hits.

Their annual show – this year called Raise Your Voice! – has become a musical milestone in the Montreal cityscape.

The songs include Falling in Love with Love, This Can’t be Love, and With a Song in My Heart. To these ears, they sounded fresh, lively and new. Some Enchanted Evening was uplifting, my eyes welling during a gorgeous and resonant My Funny Valentine.

The songs all come from the Broadway repertoire back to 1929. As Lyric does it, they are joyful and fun.

Raise Your Voice! one of the show’s pieces, has 32 women dressed as nuns belting out. A tune from the Broadway show Sister Act, a Divine Musical Comedy.

The Lyric Theatre dates back to 1965 in the West Island. It moved to Montreal in 1986. The group’s continued
popularity is due to leadership – theatre professionals with a real track record. The musical directors – Bob Bachelor and Chris Barillaro – are joined this year by Lyric veteran Cathy Burns who is Bachelor’s co-director. Guest choreographer is Jonathan Patterson.

As for the singers, most are millennials, a sign that younger people can appreciate Broadway’s timeless qualities. The package is staged, blocked, and choreographed, with seamless costume changes and personnel shifts. Burns has spent years as a Lyric singer, working on blocking shows before returning this year as an enthusiastic co-director.

“You really can’t hear a chorus like this unless you go to New York, or perhaps Toronto.”

“The opening number this year is going to be amazing,” she said. “It’s from the show called Something Rotten, which is playing now on Broadway.”

Burns said despite this year’s show having more dialogue and segues, it’s still all about the music.

“You really can’t hear a chorus like this unless you go to New York, or perhaps Toronto.”

The songs range from Rodgers and Hart’s Spring is Here in 1929 to the 2008 Tony-winning In the Heights. Others comes from shows such as The Music Man, Annie, South Pacific, Cinderella, The Lion King, Newsies, In the Heights, and Sister Act.

There is a tribute to lyricist/composer Stephen Schwartz, with selections from Wicked, Godspell, The Bakers Wife, Pocahontas, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Raise Your Voice! is on at 8 pm, June, 16, 17, and 2 pm and 8 pm June 18 at D.B. Clark Theatre of Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd W. Tickets are $36, while students and seniors pay $32. Children 12 and under $17, with additional discounts for groups of 15 and students on Friday. Call 514-743-3382, lyrictheatre.com or lyrictheatreboxoffice@gmail.com

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