We’re thrilled to have Festival favourite Cynthia Dale with us this season for a special concert — Outside Looking In – running until June 21 at the Studio Theatre. The charming Dan Chameroy will join Ms Dale on stage as they explore the themes of the season through song.
We were lucky enough to talk with Ms Dale about Outside Looking In as she began her concert series. Here’s what she had to say…
Stratford Festival (SF): What first inspired Outside Looking In?
Cynthia Dale (CD): Antoni [Cimolino, the Festival’s Artistic Director] asked me to perform concerts as part of the Festival’s Forum series. From there, a lot of my inspiration sprung from themes of the season. We deal with prejudice and racism in songs like “Children Will Listen,” the importance of community and of teaching our children well in “Born to live” and “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” – a wonderful Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash tune. That’s in a very broad scope. In a much more intimate way, I look at relationships at their end in that beautiful song “Where do you start?” and then from a couple’s point of view in “Every Day a Little Death” and “Sorry-Grateful.” So, there are many different ways we look through the prism of “outside looking in.”
SF: How long have you been preparing for this concert?
CD: 52 years, really! Directly I have also been preparing for this since last fall. Once I knew what my themes were, I started by looking through tons and tons and tons of music. Then once I finally picked the songs, my days, nights and middle of the nights were devoted to learning the 22 tunes that we selected. The concert includes everything from Stephen Sondheim to Stevie Wonder to songs from musicals that haven’t even hit Broadway yet – so there’s something for everyone.
SF: Gary Griffin, who directed you in 42nd Street for our sixtieth season, is working with you on this concert. What’s it like having him direct you for this kind of performance?
CD: It’s been a more difficult rehearsal process in the sense that it’s just the two of us sitting there going through the tunes, trying to tell the story. So he’s much more “on” me, of course – but it’s a much more intimate experience, working this way. I love it, and I love Gary; he’s the best.
SF: Dan Chameroy will join you as a special guest for your concert series. Why did you pick Dan and what can we expect from the two of you on stage (besides being brilliantly entertained!)?
CD: Why not pick Dan? Everybody would love to pick Dan!
I realized I wanted to sing with someone else, as well. You can’t really do songs about community and sing alone. I knew if there was going to be one other person, it should be someone who is a magnificent singer, whom I love, who is incredible on stage – someone I’ve worked with and someone who had worked here at the Festival before. Dan fit the bill perfectly.
SF: Watching you dance in 42nd Street last season was a complete joy – will there be any dance in Outside Looking In?
CD: I don’t haul the tap shoes out on this one! The concert is filled with movement, though.
SF: You’ll be performing in the Studio Theatre, a warm and intimate venue. How does the theatre inform how the concert is arranged, and what is it like singing in the Studio?
CD: It’s such an intimate space – you really can see the people in the back row. It’s different than the Festival. It’s not about the songs as much as it’s about how the music is arranged and how the story is told.
I love singing in the Festival, but singing in the Studio is completely different. It’s a sweet setting – with a very close, intimate, warm feeling. All of those emotions arise in the bigger theatres, too; it depends on the mood that you set and the type of show. This show was tailored to the Studio Theatre and it suits the space wonderfully.
SF: You’ll have a band – how many people will be accompanying you?
CD: Three extraordinary musicians accompany me: Charlene Nafziger on piano, Michael McLennan on stand-up bass and George Meanwell on guitar and cello.
Just for fun…
SF: One thing we’ll always find in your refrigerator is…
SF: The book resting on your nightstand right now is…
CD: James Salter’s All That Is. I just started it yesterday. I can’t read when I’m learning music or when I’m in rehearsal, so I’m glad to be able to pick up a new book!
SF: The most played song on your iPod is…
CD: It’s mostly my rehearsal music from the show – it’s all I’ve been listening to for the last two months! Although, I did buy the new Michael Bublé CD and I’ve been listening to Joni Mitchell and wonderful old soundtracks from movies from the 40s and 50s.
See Cynthia Dale and special guest Dan Chameroy in Outside Looking In this spring at the Studio Theatre! Cynthia’s show is getting rave reviews earning four stars and tickets are selling quickly – get yours today!
Follow Cynthia on Twitter: @CynthiaDale