The Melbourne Fringe Festival is a long – established performing and visual arts celebration. For three weeks from September 14 – October 1, this year the program offers a veritable smorgasbord of entertainment choices including comedy, cabaret, dance, live art, music, and social events.
Riding on the global popularity of television dramas like Glee and blockbuster films such as Pitch Perfect, one of the festival’s most – anticipated acts for 2017 was the Shania Choir.
Born Eilleen Regina Edwards, Shania Twain is a Canadian singer and songwriter.
Struggling at first to make a name for herself at home, Twain’s career took off once she moved south of the border to Nashville, Tennessee.
With sales in excess of one hundred million albums, she is the best – selling female recording artist in country music history. Country music’s roots are closely tied to tunes about heartbreak, loss and rejection. Which is ironic, as Twain’s personal life was about rising above all three, the artist used the power of song as a source of strength and personal guidance.
The Shania Choir is made up of eleven women and four men. Their show, Still The One is a high – concept tribute with tremendous (and respectful) attention to detail. That being said, their act is jam – packed with playful tongue – in – cheek references to the artist in question.
For instance, each group member is decked out in a flowing brunette wig, trademark red checked flannel shirt and black stretch jeans. Drawing on video clips such as ‘Honey, I’m Home’, there are also several choreographic moments, as well as a delightful costume change mid – show, which had this reviewer in stitches.
Right from the get – go, I was reminded of the all – male classical dance troupe, Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo. Similarly with the Shania Choir, once viewers are able to absorb the outrageous set – up, their presentation is the real deal.
A capella is a notoriously difficult vocal medium to perfect. Skill and trust between team members play a huge role in keeping time and pitch. On the evening I attended, the execution was never less than faultless. (It should be noted that several tunes also had expert cello and electric guitar accompaniment.)
Still The One is similar in structure to cabaret acts such as Alana Conway’s Songbird (which details the life and songs of Eva Cassidy), or The 27 Club (covering Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse.)
Various team members take turns to present a linear overview of biographical snippets from Twain’s personal life and career. Using ten of her greatest hits as a backdrop, this information is spliced over sixty gripping minutes.
The group covers such favourites as:
From This Moment On;
Don’t Be Stupid;
Honey, I’m Home;
You’re Still The One;
Black Eyes – Blue Tears;
Home Ain’t Where His Heart is (Any More);
If You’re Not In it For Love, I’m Outta here!;
Life’s About to Get Good; and
Man, I Feel Like A Woman
Heading in, I was only vaguely familiar with Twain’s body of work. But, thanks to the show’s structure and smart musical choices, I became an immediate fan.
By Still The One’s conclusion, I guarantee this seamless, high – energy experience will have audience members on their feet, cheering, clapping and singing along.
Here’s hoping Still The One has a return season very soon.