THE OCCUPY MUSICAL
By Nina Davis and Geoffrey Johnson
Occupy Art in Song, an exciting preview of the new, all Canadian, “The Occupy Musical”, will transport you to a tent city during the Occupy Movement of 2011-12. This historical and politically relevant performance, features the exceptional vocals of Denise Pelley, Sonja Gustafson, Alan Charlebois, Jordan Baldwin and Stratford's Alec Fowler, backed by a powerful band and passionate songs. Narration provides the story line and context, taking you to a space of possibility, quite different than the dominant reality of the 1%. Fifteen original songs, in various styles, by Nina Davis, Geoff Johnson, Dennis Siren and a killer rock opera song by Stratford's Gail Selkirk will inspire you, move you and have you dancing in your seat.
Alan Charlebois is singing the lead role Brandon. A vocal dynamo in the London
professional music scene, Alan is well known in London and the surrounding area for putting on an incredible stage performance, often silencing and stunning audiences with his extremely powerful and raw vocals. Alan had firmly decided at age 15 on being a career musician.He credits a combination of the classic rock legends, as well as 90s alternative rock stars for his musical influence. As a singer/songwriter Alan breathes passion into every note of his music. Alan has been playing in various bands and has a dream of entering the world of musical theatre. His incredible range and his refreshingly honest vocal artistry should get him there! He is excited to be part of Occupy Art in Song and film as this is a foot in the door to this dream.
London’s award-winning Jazz singer Sonja Gustafson will be singing the roles of Jenny (Eliza's granddaughter) and Leanne. Sonja is a classically trained and talented vocalist with unique style and polish. She is an accomplished classical soprano with a Master’s of Music from Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music. She is a popular guest with symphonies, choirs and big bands alike and has performed in musicals and fully staged chamber operas. Her traditional approach reflects an appreciation for the forerunners of vocal jazz, bringing a cool verve to classic and lesser-known standards. Honest and powerful in her delivery, Sonja Gustafson is dazzling whether performing passionate ballads, scatting with abandon, or crooning popular covers. Wherever she performs, this multi-faceted vocalist is an engaging songstress who connects deeply with her audience and shares her love of song with soulfulness and grace.Sonja feels so fortunate to be part of the London's musical fabric. and a winner of 5 “Jacks” herself, Sonja was thrilled to help celebrate her city's vibrant jazz classical music scene by co-hosting the first installment Jack Richardson London Jazz & Classical Music Awards Show.
Rob Larose studied classical percussion at the University of Western Ontario, jazz drumming with Roger Flock at Humber College, and Latin music with Memo Acevado and Rick Lazar in Toronto. For over 25 years Rob has enriched musical performances around London performing with numerous groups including: Orchestra London, Pro Musica, Amabile Choirs, Funkinc, the Ken Varely Jazz trio, salsa band Herencia Latina, The Fanshawe Concert Players Orchestra, After Four, The Joe Edmonds Group, and numerous others. Most recently Rob has been kept busy as part of the world-beat jazz ensemble, The Antler River Project and has been touring throughout Canada and the US with the Celtic fusion group Rant Maggie Rant.
Alec is singing the roles of Godfrey and Pat. A Stratford native, Alec loves writing music as much as he does performing. He studied at Wilfrid Laurier University for voice under the direction of Dan Lichti. As a boy, Alec performed on the Stratford Festival stage in the musical “Oliver!” (2005). He has also competed at the provincial level for voice three times including the musical theatre category. Alec has performed with Opera Laurier in Ravel’s “L’enfant et les sortileges” (2015), and in Offenbach’s “The Tales of Hoffmann” (2017). Alec is excited to begin his career with his love of music.
Jordan Baldwin, a young Londoner will be singing the roles of David and Jonathan. He has an almost unbelievable range from the rich lower end of a tenor right up to a sopranist countertenor. Jordan completed his bachelor of music in voice performance from Western University studying under the tutelage of John Mac Master in 2015.An avid chorister, Jordan was the Eberhard Scholar with the First-St. Andrews Choir from 2011 to 2016 and has sung in operas, L'Enfant et les Sortileges, La Cenerentola, L'HeureEspagnole. Jordan has also been heavily involved in musicals and operettas with credits including The Student Prince (Toronto Operetta Theatre); 9 to 5 (Drayton Entertainment); Dog Sees God (Simply Theatre); Les Misérables, Pirates of Penzance, Grease (HSP: Grand Theatre) and Godspell (FSA).
Steve Clark, from London, Ontario is a gifted bassist on electric, fretless, and upright bass and has been very active in the music community. Steve taught himself to play bass as a teenager in high school in Oakville, Ontario. At 16 years old he was playing bars in Toronto. Throughout high school Steve’s musical horizons gradually expanded leading to entering Humber College as a performance major and graduating in 1989. He has shared the stage with many amazing musicians and artists. He has done numerous theatre works with many different productions. Steve has made a career of being an expert freelance bassist, his professionalism and attention to detail has made him a first call with many of his musical clients. His playing history on the electric and upright bass includes touring with Juno nominees Emm Gryner and Twilight Hotel among many others
Denise, who will be singing the lead role of Eliza,is simply one of London's all-time best performers. She has performed with orchestras as far afield as Portugal and Germany and performed with many great artists including acclaimed trombonist Ray Anderson, Gospel/Blues legend Jackie Richardson and Flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook. She has opened for Aretha Franklin at the John Labatt Centre, has performed with Orchestra London in the Jeans 'n Classics series, has performed and acted in Grand Theatre productions, and did a one-woman show Jazzabel, in Washington DC and New York City at Urban Stages Theatre. Festivals she has performed in include du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival (Toronto), Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Royal Canadian Big Band Festival (London), Bluesfest (London), Waterloo Jazz Festival and Sunfest (London), among others. She was featured in the February 2006 issue of O (Oprah Winfrey) Magazine. Denise’s recording credits include seven CD’s. In April 2015 she was inducted into the Jack Richardson London Music Hall of Fame. In November 2015 Denise received a honourary licentiate diploma from Conservatory Canada.
Christine Newland's soulful cello playing represents the earth in this musical. Wait till you hear her incredible cello whale sounds! She is a Canada Council supported artist, has performed solo for CBC and BBC radio, television and the West Deutches Rundfunk. While studying in Germany in the Master Class of Antonio Janigro, she toured throughout Europe and Canada with the Dusseldorf String Quartet and did a solo tour in Japan.For a special fund-raising concert for Orchestra London, she was loaned the now 12 million dollar "Bonjour" Stradivari cello, to perform an all solo cello tribute to her friend Jacqueline Du Pre. Her chamber studies were with the Guarneri, Hungarian, Yale, and Lenox String Quartets.A few years ago she had the honour of working with and playing for actor Christopher Plummer at a special fund-raiser. She has freelanced with the Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Windsor and Thunder Bay symphony orchestras and was principal cellist for Orchestra London for 40 years, performing 15 solo concerti, several of which were written for her.Christine received the Jack Richardson Award twice (2008 and 2017) and is presently doing myriad concerts and recordings with various local artists in every musical genre.
Arranger/ Music Director, Composer and Keyboardist
Co-founder of The Big Picture Presents (a performance arts group, dedicated to showcasing inter-arts collaborations and original music) and Nina's musical and life partner, Geoff Johnson, is a classically trained pianist, piano teacher, piano technician, composer, musical director and performer. He finds maximum artistic expression through improvisation on piano and voice and runs jazz improvisation nights in their home performance studio. Geoff has been committed to performing and supporting performances of original music his entire musical career. His published works involve producing 2 CD's and part of the score of a native Canadian film “CIRCLE OF NATIONS” (2001). He attended Fanshawe Music Industry Arts Program, has been in several bands, was the music director for Original Kids for over ten years, was artistic director/stage manager of a yearly musician's festival Cornfest for twelve years, started, ran and toured (throughout Ontario schools and libraries) The Synthesized Theatre Company and Electronic Mime Company (designed to educate and inspire children to get involved in music), and has collaborated on many projects with fellow composers and musicians. Geoff is thrilled to be joining Nina in Occupy Art in Song and Film as the music director, co-composer, main arranger and keyboardist.
Creator, Artistic director, and Composer
Nina Davis has been writing music professionally for over 30 years for organizations, film, TV. shows (including The Daily Show and Oprah) vocalists and her own performances. Strongly influenced by a Canadian multicultural environment, the artistic realm gives voice to her lifelong commitment to peace, compassion, community development, equity, social justice, and celebrating diversity. Having worked as a research scientist, Nina has an unusual combination of a love for problem solving, research, organization and scientific reasoning; with a need, passion and talent for most things artistic. Early in her musical career she started managing large, multifaceted, art ventures, such as Thank You - a song written by Nina for Transplant International that she recorded with over one hundred singers and musicians. She co-wrote and recorded an instrumental album Windrose, released by BMG Pacific, won a FACTOR new talent award, has published works of prose and poetry, co-ran a monthly house concert series for over 10 years, wrote and performed a musical play Still Loving, and filmed and produced a short film Diversity, Nature's Way of Celebrating. Nina is thrilled to collaborate with many of London's best in the musical's first stage of production, Occupy Art in Song and Film.
Film Maker, Recording Technician
Saby Siren Productions was founded in the year 2000. Our mandate is to document the ‘Art Scene’ in London Ontario. We have produced extensive documentation of artists, musicians and poets. To name a few --- Eric Atkinson, Tony Urquhart, Walter Redinger, Brian Saby, Eric Stach and Penn
Kemp. In 2007 we documented ‘The Argentinean/Canadian Mural Project’.
Involved with the plight of the vulnerable in our society, we have produced a number of documentaries --- “Queering the Canon”; Symposium of Psychiatric Survivor Recovery, “Hope for a Change”; “Invisible Eyes on Homelessness”.
As active participants in Nuit Blanche, we have created an installation, a musical and a 6-hour ‘stream-of-consciousness’ musical piece performed at Museum London.
“The Rise of Urban Agriculture in London Ontario” was documented in 2014. This venture produced a 11⁄2-hour video.
Early in 2017, a documentary on Walter Redinger (sculptor) has been completed.
For the last decade, Saby Siren Productions has created videos for Penn Kemp’s poetry. These videos have been entered into poetry film festivals in Scotland, Germany and Canada. www.sabysiren.com
Over the course of her career, Gail has taken on a long list of roles, including singer, pianist, arranger, composer, entertainer, piano teacher, musical director, choir director and church organist. Her musical education is extensive: Gail attended the Humber College jazz program on a piano scholarship, but also studied piano, harmony and voice with top coaches.
Gail kicked off her musical career as one of the original members of Major Hoople’s Boarding House. With that group, she toured across Canada, gaining a loyal following.From there, Gail was in demand for a variety of projects and used her talent for everything from arranging, playing keyboard and providing vocals for Kate Ashby-Craft’s “The Heart and the Mind” album to rapping and singing on Math 3R Rap, an educational album.
Gail composed and performed two tracks for the documentary film “Swans On The Avon” and has worked as the musical director for community theatre productions, including Jesus Christ Superstar. She is also the founder, director and arranger of the Amazing Grace Jazz Choir, an 8-voice gospel jazz ensemble. In 1994, Gail co-authored “But I am practicing,” a guide for learning keyboard, with Janice Clark.
Media Manager, Graphic Designer
Graduating from the Audio Visual Media Program at Fanshawe College in London Canada, Wendy has exhibited her photographs since 1996. Exhibiting in London, St. Thomas and surrounding area, a
private collection of her work is in the following countries: Canada, United States, Europe, South America and India.
Saby Siren Productions is a multi-media company that since its inception in 2000, Wendy and Dennis have built a clientele of artists and small business owners. As artists, they have decided to offer their
expertise and services to artists and small business owners to create affordable solutions for their multi-media needs.
Artist documentation has become a specialty of Wendy’s. She takes pride in producing the best image possible for her clients. To name a few --- sculptor, Don Bonham; abstract painter, Brian Saby; multi-discipline artist, Aidan Urquhart; sculptor, Walter Redinger.