An afternoon with John & Jane
August 16, 2011
Board member Peter Dickinson reports on the August 14th PuSh Festival Fundraiser…
This past Sunday approximately 45 friends and supporters of the PuSh Festival gathered at the beautiful Shaughnessy home of Roberta Beiser (founding Leaders Council member) and Allan Black for an afternoon filled with wonderful music, great conversation, and delicious food and drink. This unique fundraising event welcomed a number of new members to PuSh’s Patrons Circle, and in addition to enjoying canapés and wine in a spectacular art-filled setting, guests were treated to a special command performance by John Gray (also on our Leaders Council) and Jane Mortifee.
Sitting at the grand piano in Roberta’s living room, John began by playing a selection of songs from his best-known musical, Billy Bishop Goes to War, which continues to enjoy phenomenal success, most recently in a popular revival at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre. John then welcomed Jane to the stage, and together they harmonized on several tunes from John’s other musical theatre creations, including Amelia, Don Messer’s Jubilee, Rock and Roll, and The Tree, The Tower, The Flood, a recasting of three well-known Bible stories for the information age. Jane closed out their set with a rousing, bluesy version of Cilla Black’s “You’re My World,” which immediately brought unanimous cries for an encore. The between-song patter was as much fun as the numbers themselves, and combined with the intimate setting, it felt like a little bit of the late-night cabaret vibe of Club PuSh was being recreated on this sunny, late-summer afternoon.
Executive Director Norman Armour also gave a sneak peek of some of next year’s planned programming, including an adaptation by Neworld Theatre of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot with Theatre at UBC at the Frederic Wood Theatre. This special PuSh commission is a follow-up to Neworld’s Crime and Punishment, which premiered at the 2005 Festival to rave reviews.
PuSh Board President Max Wyman concluded the proceedings by thanking John and Jane for their performance, Roberta and Allan for their generous hospitality, Interim Development Manager Jocelyn Macdougall for her organizational prowess, and all Board members and staff (including Communications Manager Kara Gibbs) who helped ensure the event’s success.
Max then got a surprise of his own when Jocelyn emerged with a cake, John struck some familiar keys on the piano, and the assembled group broke into a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” The cake, a confection as witty as it was tasty, was the brainchild of new Board member Leslie Nolin, and featured a miniature Max sitting on a park bench reading a book of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Only at a PuSh event can you expect dessert to double as conceptual art!