2 min

Tone Cluster promises fabulous showdown

Focus on showtunes for singing competition

SHOW TUNE SHOWDOWN. Orpheus Musical Theatre's team for the "choral event of the season" is Michael Gareau (left), Robin Guy and Patrick Donahue. Credit: (Mélanie Provencher)

Tone Cluster, Ottawa’s queer choir, is challenging fellow performers and local show tune fanatics to put their knowledge – and their voices – to the game show test.

Tone Cluster kicks off its season Nov 5 with The Fabulous 2005 Show Tune Showdown, just one of the notable events the choir has planned before heading off to Vancouver next year.

“We’ll have some showdown rounds where the MC will call out a show tune and they have to buzz in if one of the teams thinks they can sing it,” explains Tone Cluster president Rob Bowman, the event organizer. “If none of the teams buzz in, the MC will call out the challenge to the audience to see if anyone can come up and sing it.”

Teams set to compete include representatives from the Ottawa School Of Speech And Drama, Orpheus and the Canadian Centennial Choir.

All profits from the Showdown will help send Tone Cluster to Vancouver for the Canadian Unison Festival in May. And the Showdown promises to be full of music, excitement and audience participation.

“This is going to be the choral event of the season,” says Tone Cluster director Jane Perry.

Although Tone Cluster is the creative force behind the showdown, they will not compete, opting to instead open the show with a song from Rent.

“We’re organizing the event as a choir and letting them have the fun,” says Bowman.

The panel of judges consists of Alex Munter, former city councillor and now visiting professor at the University Of Ottawa; CBC theatre critic Alvina Ruprecht; and Laurence Ewashko, professor of choral studies at U Of O.

And Tone Cluster members have their sights firmly set on May’s Canadian Unison Festival.

“Tone Cluster is very excited to be going,” says Perry.

Perry is especially excited about the choir performing at the Chan Centre at the University Of British Colombia. “I’ve heard only good things about it in terms of the acoustics and its beauty,” says Perry. “We’re really excited to perform there and perform with gay choirs from all across Canada.”

Tone Cluster hopes to also raise funds towards their trip with the release of their first CD in March. The recording of their debut album was made possible with a grant from the Ottawa Arts Council.

“The Ottawa Arts Council has been very supportive of Tone Cluster. It would have been hard to complete the project without their assistance, so we’re very grateful for the support they gave us,” says Perry.

Tone Cluster will also perform at two concerts planned for November and March. November’s theme, Songs of America, lightly touches on the political landscape of today’s world.

“There’s so much good choral music coming out of the States. In a way, it is an ironic time to do it because the world opinion is against the United States because of the war in Iraq,” explains Perry. “However, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have great choral music and great choral composers. So I thought it might be an interesting time to do a concert of American music because people’s thoughts are already there, for better or worse.”