Live Bait Theatre is bringing I’m Not What I Seem: Stories and Songs of Rita MacNeil, the company’s new musical tribute to Cape Breton’s First Lady of Song, to Amherst as part of a fall tour.
The show will play at the Community Credit Union Innovation Centre on Friday, Nov. 1.
This celebration of MacNeil’s music features Jennie Del Motte, Heather MacIntyre, Carley Varner-Joudrey and New Brunswick’s Queen of the Blues, Theresa Malenfant, performing over twenty of the singer-songwriter’s songs.
The show features well known hits like Working Man, Flying On Your Own and She’s Called Nova Scotia, as well as a number of lesser known songs.
The evening will be hosted by Amherst native Charlie Rhindress, who will read excerpts from his best-selling biography of MacNeil, I’m Not What I Seem.
Rhindress is also the author of a play based on MacNeil’s life called Flying On Her Own, which premiered at Live Bait Theatre in 2000 and was subsequently produced by Neptune Theatre. Rhindress developed the play with MacNeil, who had final approval over the script.
In addition to the book excerpts Rhindress will share stories about working with Rita on the stage version of her life story.
MacNeil, who passed away in 2013 first came to national prominence in 1987 with her hit song, Flying On Her Own. At the time she was 42 years old and had been performing professionally for over twenty years. She famously won the Juno award that year as Most Promising Female Vocalist, beating out Celine Dion.
Previous to that MacNeil was well known on the folk festival circuit and was instrumental in the women’s movement in Canada. She released the country’s first feminist album, Born a Woman, in 1975. MacNeil faced a number of hardships on her road to success. This was often reflected in her music as many of her songs were autobiographical. This musical tribute will not only celebrate her music but also her resilient spirit.
Del Motte, MacIntyre and Varner-Joudrey have all worked with Live Bait Theatre for a number of years, performing in both dinner theatres and mainstage productions.
Del Motte has also worked with McSweeney’s Dinner Theatre and the Atlantic Ballet Theatre as a musical director.
MacIntyre and Varner-Joudrey both have extensive performing experience and have gained a following for their musical duo, Harmony Girls. Malenfant has been a professional singer for more than 40 years and is widely regarded as one of Canada’s best blues singers.
The singers are not attempting to impersonate Rita, but rather showcasing her extraordinary songwriting talents.
“I’ve always felt that Rita was underrated as a songwriter and I have wanted to put a show like this together for years. I’m hoping that the audience might hear Rita’s songs in a new light and even discover some gems that they were previously unaware of,” Rhindress said.
Besides the Amherst show, it is also appearing in Sackville, N.B. on Nov. 4; and in Springhill on Nov. 7.
For tickets or more information about any of the performances call Live Bait at 506-536-2248 or visit livebaittheatre.com.