The more things change, the more they stay the same. Times tend to change and all its inherent trends and political zeitgeist as well, but human nature tends to remain constant. Louise Pitre and spouse W. Joseph Matheson are renowned in Canadian theatrical circles, and they are now eager and willing to take us on a majestic trip through turbulent times of yore to show that while the rise of counterculture and a growing love affair with the notion that love is all one really needs to enjoy a life brimming with peace and harmony, nothing moves the emotional needle like setting it to a seminal soundtrack.
Many look back on the 1960s as a time of contrast and revolution. Some that were approaching middle age then felt uneasy as the social and cultural mores with which they’d been raised were publicly challenged like never before. Some who were just beginning to blossom into adulthood then took sides, to either stand at the public pulpit and preach the virtues of the status quo, or to take to the task of helping shatter it. Some who are too young to have cognitively absorbed the tumult or who weren’t even born during the undeniably enigmatic era are often bombarded by traditional and social media imagery of stereotyped visuals of the decade and are left to their own devices to decipher, perhaps research or even just put out of their minds the cultural relevance of it all. The dynamic duo of Pitre and Matheson have masterfully managed to run the gamut of the continuum on which rest those paradigms in The Times They Are A Changin’, merely using the minimalist visual gifts of stools, chairs and piano yet also the modern spectacle of video imagery and factual footage to take mesmerized audiences on a breathtaking magic carpet ride through a generation’s soul searching and uprising. And through the eyes of Jewish songwriters and performers no less, no societal strangers as a steadfast surviving people to upheaval, uncertainty, strife, and world stage struggles. If the names Bob Dylan, Carole King, Arlo Guthrie and Simon & Garfunkel mean anything to you, then your musical ear has been tuned to Ravi Shankar-like razor-sharp acuity.
Created as a moving song cycle in 2017 for the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company in Toronto by Pitre and Matheson themselves – along with their co-Artistic Directors Avery Saltzman and David Eisner, each song is set to a video projection poignantly orchestrated by Dan Bowman. Audiences will be immediately struck upon arrival by the front and center positioning of the amazing five piece band led by Nick Burgess, as their instrumentation is key to the stories being told, mostly through song. Saltzman steps into the directing role with passionate aplomb and theatergoers cannot help but be swept up in the many ideas and forces blowing in the wind.
Pitre is by far no wayfaring stranger to Segal Centre audiences. After her celebrated turn as Parisian musical icon Édith Piaf in the 2018 production The Angel and the Sparrow, this Tony Award nominee has more than earned the moniker “The First Lady of Canadian Musical Theatre.” Matheson is an internationally recognized star of stage in his own right, from The Jazz Singer at the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company to Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story in Regina just to name a few Canadian accomplishments.
Bring your tambourine, your love beads, perhaps your protest signs even – for the joyous yet culturally caustic kaleidoscope of songs you’ve always loved, sung by a duo who will inspire love and introspection on timeless matters of conscience and virtue – at Segal Centre’s Sylvan Adams Theatre until March 22nd. Visit segalcentre.org for more information or call the box office at (514) 739-7944.