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Poetic theme earns nice coverage

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The Northland Barbershop Chorus of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, earned some nice pre-show press coverage because of the unique material which serves as the connecting theme of the show:

Bob Shami started to warm up to a story about the Klondike Gold Rush long before Old Man Winter settled in for the season.

Northland Barbershop Chorus liked a pitch from Vernon Bailey to feature works by The Bard of the Yukon, Robert Service. The decision to head north for creative inspiration Saturday’s show at Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre was made last summer.

Shami, the group’s music director, wrote a script, North To Alaska, that ties together six of Service’s poems performed by Bailey and 10 songs sung by the 40-plus members of the chorus.

Bailey, who just wrapped up a four-night run in Family Life Theatre’s production of Moon Over Buffalo, will recite excerpts of The Call of the Wild, The Trail of Ninety-Eight and The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill and full versions of Laziness, A Sourdough Story and The Cremation of Sam McGee.

That list follows Shami scouring hundreds of Service’s poems – the native of Preston, England wrote more than 1,000 – over a three-month span “trying to find just exactly the right pieces that would fit the music that we have in mind to do.”

Shami could only dig up one song, North to Alaska, about the gold rush that audiences

would know. He rounded out the group’s program with tunes that relate to the experiences of the 100,000 men who dreamed of striking it rich. Only a few hundred would end up making that claim.

“It’s a fascinating story,” said Shami. “The hardship they endured was colossal. Most were unprepared for how difficult it was.”

Full story: Barbershoppers strike gold | Sault Star.

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