Review | Shania Choir are in it for love

Shania Choir | Fringe Central | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Fringe: if you’re not in it for love / if you’re not willing to give it all you got / if you’re not in it for life / if you’re not in it for love / let me make it clear / to you my dear / if you’re not in it for love / get outta here!

On entering this show, a question presented itself to me: can this strange homage show to a country singer I barely remember from my youth actually make me feel and appreciate country music for an hour? It’s a very important question, right up there with inquiries into the meaning of life. The answer? Yes. Yes it can. And then some.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Shania Choir. I’ve seen them roaming The Cultural Centre,  doing their acapella flash mob, dressed in leopard print and wonderfully ill-fitting wigs. They’ve been doing a great job of adding colour, movement and song to the streets. But I was worried about seeing a full-length show, particularly about… shudder… country music. I loathe country music.

Correction… loathed. Past tense.

Shania Choir is the story of Saint Shania Twain, Canadian breakout country star who was an icon of female empowerment in the 90s. The giddy rush of grooving away to Saturday morning music mayhem in 1995 while cranking Rage and Video Hits – and then hearing Get Outta Here! – suddenly came rushing back to me while watching this show. And what a show!

As the name suggests, it’s basically a choir singing a medley of Shania Twain hits. What they don’t tell you in the promotional material is exactly how infectious this singing is, how comedic and sincere storytelling follow the narrative arc of Twain’s life story to present something that is actually quite sweet and touching. Nor do they tell you that damn, you’re gonna be tapping that toe and clapping those hands.

The passion of this choir is commendable: they’ve taken the campiest premise possible and created a beautiful guitar-twanging gem of a show. This is a show filled with anthems and feels, a raucous little riot that will leave you feeling lighter and braver and empowered then when you entered. If you’re a big Shania Twain fan, it’ll jerk some tears out of you… as it was, my stony little heart and eyes did well up with emotion, largely fuelled by the passion of the entertainers. Maybe it was the air conditioning? Nope… all down to the entertainment. Damn country music… making me feel…!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in other reviews, there are several types of Fringe shows, from the ugh to haha to the ooooh. This is definitely an awwww, and a beautiful heartfelt awwww. It’s time to stop wondering what all that 7pm singing from The Circus Tent is all about as you walk past it. Get in there and experience it for yourself. You will not be disappointed. Give it all you’ve got, just like Shania Choir do.

Scott-Patrick Mitchell

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