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'An amazing time': Sudbury native Leisa Way brings her show about British Invasion to STC

'Across the Pond' runs at Sudbury Theatre Centre March 15-24
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“Across the Pond: The British Invasion" runs at Sudbury Theatre Centre March 15-24. (Supplied)

Sudbury native Leisa Way always wanted to make a living working in theatre, and she's done just that. 

She got her start at Sudbury Theatre Centre as a teen, and has spent more than 30 years on the stage. 

Over the past decade, she's created her own work by writing and producing musical shows, with help from musical arranger Bruce Ley. 

She performs the shows alongside a group of musicians she's dubbed the “Wayward Wind Band” (currently Fred Smith, Bobby Prochaska, Nathan Smith and Don Reid).

Past shows have featured the music of Peggy Lee, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton, among others.

She's brought several shows to STC, including “Oh Canada, We Sing for Thee!” in 2017, a touring performance featuring the music of Canadian greats in honour of the country's 150th birthday.

Way returns to STC March 15-24 for a run of her show “Across the Pond: The British Invasion,” celebrating 50 years of the British musical invasion, from the hits of the 60s to the favourites of today.

“Last year when we were all over the place with this concert for the summer season, it's the first show of mine where people are up in the aisle dancing,” Way said.

She said the British Invasion began partly because the American rock stars of the 1950s stopped performing by the early 1960s.

Buddy Holly died in a plane crash, Elvis enlisted in the army, Little Richard became a minister and Chuck Berry was in jail. 

After the 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, Americans needed something to “cheer them up,” Way said, and found it in British culture.

In 1963, Ed Sullivan was at the Heathrow Airport in London, England, and saw girls screaming for The Beatles. He invited them on his show for their famous performances in 1964.

From there, the British Invasion impacted not only music, but movies, television and fashion — do Twiggy, James Bond, and the long-running “Coronation Street” ring a bell? “It was an amazing time,” Way said.

And “in my opinion, the British invasion has never stopped,” she said, bringing up more modern artists such as the Spice Girls and Adele.

If you catch the show, expect to hear the hits of the 60s right up to today's biggest stars, saluting such musical royalty as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Queen, Rod Stewart, Herman's Hermits, Adele, The Dave Clark Five, Shirley Bassey, Elvis Costello, The Who, Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Animals, Dusty Springfield, Eric Clapton, The Troggs, Van Morrison, Sting and The Police, Annie Lennox, Joe Cocker, Lulu, The Hollies, Donovan, Cilla Black, Peter and Gordon, The Kinks, Mary Hopkins, George Michael, Spencer Davis Group, Manfred Mann and The Swinging Blue Jeans.

Writing and producing a show might seem like quite enough work in itself, but Way said she likes to perform in them herself partly to ensure everything runs smoothly.

She takes care of everything from working with venues to promotion to doing laundry. But Way said it's also a lot of fun.

“I hearken back to when I was a little girl in Sudbury, dreaming of doing this,” Way said.

“More than once a night on stage with these talented musicians I have these moments of 'Oh wow, this is it. We go off stage and greet the audience and they say 'Oh my gosh, it looks like you're having so much fun.'

“I say 'I never work a day in my life. I have so much fun on stage.'”

Tickets cost $37 each for students and seniors, and $42 for adults. Visit sudburytheatre.ca.

@heidi_ulrichsen
 




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