By Michael Boriero
There will be live music again in Brome Lake, as the Community Singers and Knowlton Players prepare for their first concert in nearly two years.
The event will take place at Mill Pond Park in Knowlton, where spectators will gather under a massive outdoor tent. According to Lucy Hoblyn, who is directing the second half of the show with the Knowlton Players, they wanted to accommodate as many people as possible.
“This is a good way of doing it and we’re limiting the audience size to 150 people and we’re going to be very Covid conscious, space between each of the reservations, following all of the rules,” she said.
The concert, which takes place on Aug. 26 and 27, will start with a performance from the Community Singers, directed by Laura Barr with John Barr. Hoblyn told The Record that the duo have been pining for an opportunity to collaborate for years.
“[They are] going to be interspersing the choir with soloists who are going to be singing music from broadway, including Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Les Miserables, and quite a few other musicals,” said Hoblyn.
In the second half of the concert, the Knowlton Players will be tapping into fan-favourite performances from past plays. Hoblyn and other cast members decided to re-enact several songs from Mama Mia and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The plan right now is to mix it up with different soloists, but they also wanted to re-emerge from the pandemic with something familiar and comfortable for everyone in town. It was a special moment for everyone when the crew was finally able to start practicing.
“We missed each other, it was really amazing when we first got to go to a rehearsal, of course extremely Covid separate from everybody, it was just so amazing to see everybody and start telling jokes,” said Hoblyn, noting there is an age range from 10 to 89 years old.
She added that the hardest part about the past couple years, aside from the pandemic, is the fact they were not able to get together regularly. They are a community theatre troupe, first and foremost, she explained, and they felt isolated for a long time.
“It has been really sort of tough, for us it’s more the social aspect, we have all of these gangs of people, especially when you are rehearsing for a show, you see them once or twice a week, and then you don’t see these people at all,” Hoblyn said.
Jody Murray and her 10-year-old daughter, Michaela Meacher, are part of the Knowlton Players. Meacher is the youngest member of the group, and she has already been involved for a number of years, alongside her mother. They felt disconnected since the pandemic.
They used to see everyone twice a week, Murray said, and they craved the energy of being on stage with the Knowlton Players. Meacher said she missed rehearsals the most throughout the pandemic, and Murray agreed with her daughter.
“Practicing together I think sums it up for me, too. Practice has given us so many opportunities to laugh at ourselves. The performances are great, but the practices are part of the fun,” said Murray.
Darleen Bell, a member since 1997, said returning to the stage side-by-side with her fellow members has been like riding a bike. The lockdown hit Quebec right when the group was about to start rehearsals for their next show. She is excited to see their loyal fans.
“I think one of the greatest things about Knowlton Players is that they are like an old friend. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since you have seen them, as soon as you reconnect with them, it’s like you have never been apart,” said Bell.
She added that they tried to connect through social media as often as possible throughout the pandemic, but it was never the same as being in person. When asked about the impact the pandemic had on the artistic community, Bell said it felt like they were overlooked.
While she acts and sings in plays as a hobby, she has many friends who work professionally and suffered throughout the past two years. When people in the community lose their outlet, the ability to be creative, it could have a negative impact on their life.
“I think people underestimate the power of performance. How it helps a person, any person, whether it’s someone who has been doing it like me for a long time, or someone new who wants to try it out,” said Bell.
People interested in the event can search Knowlton Players Thank You For The Music on https://www.eventbrite.ca/. The tickets are technically free, but Hoblyn and company are asking for donations from the community to keep the theatre alive.