Fascinating female trios abound in pop culture, from classical icons like the mythological Fates and MacBeth’s witches to modern examples like Charlie’s Angels, the Sanderson Sisters or Triplicate Girl – and of course, musical combos: the Andrews Sisters, Josie and the Pussycats, Wilson Phillips, the Hex Girls, the Ault Sisters.
PEI’s recent contribution to that model is the Fascinating Ladies franchise, created by Catherine O’Brien and assorted collaborators for Young at Heart Theatre several years ago and revamped, recast and remounted in various forms since then. As before, their latest musical revue – Fascinating Maritime Ladies – features a singing trio (currently O’Brien, Allison Kelly & Kelley Mooney) with a focus on popular tunes of times past.
The titular twist this time around is they’re covering songs by musical luminaries of the East Coast and Quebec such as Edith Butler, Margie Carmichael, Teresa Doyle, Catherine McKinnon, Rita MacNeil, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Anne Murray, Ginette Reno, Laura Smith, Nancy White, the Rankin Family and more.
A charitable organization as well as a theatre company, Young at Heart’s commendable aim is to stage professional theatre for seniors all over PEI, which is why this new show’s extensive touring schedule included plenty of church halls, community halls, social clubs, seniors homes and so on (though alas, recent public health issues have canceled most of their March dates). They even offer travel assistance to seniors attending their shows.
But is it entertaining for all ages? My preteen darling daughter (hereafter DD) and I investigated, attending opening night at the historic, architecturally impressive and acoustically lovely Saint Paul’s Church in Charlottetown. DD seemed skeptical at first, pointing out to me that “almost everyone else here is a senior citizen – or people who are almost senior citizens, like you.”
I disputed her math on that last bit, though I agreed with her that Saint Paul’s pews remain wickedly uncomfortable. DD was also struck by the big block lettering on the arch at the front of the church: “THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE – LET ALL THE EARTH KEEP SILENCE”. When she asked about it, I opined that in this context it seems to be a solemn, highfalutin’ way of saying: “Shut up, we’re trying to church here!” She liked that.
She also liked the show when it got started a few minutes later. Margie Carmichael herself was the opening act – I particularly liked her wistful “Old Grey House” song, though DD most enjoyed her between-songs anecdotes: “I love this lady’s stories,” DD whispered.
DD and I also both enjoyed the main event. The O’Brien/Kelly/Mooney trio are lovely singers, both collectively and individually (the show mixes some solos in with the group efforts), as well as charming, lively stage personalities with an infectious sense of humour. As DD remarked after the group’s goofily rousing version of “Gaelic Envy” complete with wacky mock Celtic dancing, “That was hilarious!”
Other highlights include their renditions of “I Built a Boat”, “Flying on Your Own”, “Could I Have This Dance”, “You’re My Cup of Tea” and “Log Drivers Waltz”. This not-quite-senior citizen even found himself singing along with a couple of these, and you may well do likewise if these Fascinating Ladies cross your path.