“The show’s about a group of girls that are growing up in college in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, and they’re telling a story about that – about growing up in a time of war, in a time of segregation, and of… the love revolution,” muses Vanessa Young, director and producer of Lovers of Hendrix and founder of Vancouver-based dance company The Lovers Cabaret. “Definitely not as much of a tribute as the Zeppelin show was.”
Some of you may already be familiar with the show in question, having caught one of the electric Lovers of Zeppelin performances at the Electric Owl last fall. After packing the house for their one scheduled show on October 12, the group was quickly urged to perform an encore performance two weeks later – to another packed house.
I managed to steal a few minutes out of Young’s hectic schedule to get some details on the upcoming Lovers of Hendrix performances on February 14 and 15. Being the non-stop dynamo that she is, this meeting did not take place in a café over a hot cup o’joe – oh no. We had our chat at the company’s Mount Pleasant rehearsal space as her team prepped for a run-through.
“This time it’s a little different, so the Zeppelin show… um – Ladies, keep it down, please!” Young calmly requested as The Lovers Cabaret dancers must have wondered why they had to be quiet because of that guy.
While the rock icon theme continues on strong with Lovers of Hendrix, Young and company have decided to change the game. “The Zeppelin show was about the women in the lives of Zeppelin, so we had portrayals of the wives and the groupies and just the young girls that were real fans, whereas this time around, the show actually has nothing to do with Jimi Hendrix.” Except, of course, for the fact that the story unfolds in the sweet, purple haze of an all-Hendrix score.
“Jimi Hendrix is such a different kind of icon. His death was a little more shameful in a sense,” Young explains, alluding to the star’s drug-related death at the age of 27. “His music carried on in a different way than Zeppelin did. We wanted to tell a little bit of a different story, because we thought that focusing around [his death] wouldn’t tell the same kind of story about love that we’re trying to really get at – that love revolution that was happening.”
“We have a new cast of dancers. We have three recurring cast members that were part of Zeppelin, but this year we have eight principals and eight ensemble dancers, plus new dance performances as well, we have some guest performances as well – we have some guys in the show this time,” says Young. So while Lovers of Hendrix is sure to please the eyes and ears of the many fans of the company’s October show, Young and established choreographer Ashley Sweett have changed the game, managing to keep their approach fresh and innovative.
“The company revolves around 16 girls; they all come from different dance backgrounds,” Young informs us when asked who The Lovers Cabaret really are. “This time around, when we auditioned, we had almost 50 girls audition to be in the show, so trying to narrow it down was really hard, and then we ended up with a great mix of different styles and studios.”
“The eight girls that are our principals really have characters in the show – it centres around Mary, our lead, who’s our vocalist as well. Each girl is connected to her in a way. It’s a really fun story. It uses a bit more acting this time, there’s a lot more script, and a lot more vocal pieces as well. We wanted to be able to just show off our art more and allow the story to shine through.”
With all the anticipation in the air, I couldn’t help but look to the future greedily and ask about the possibility of further Lovers shows. “Definitely,” Young answered, not missing a beat. “We’d like to come back in the spring with maybe something else along the Lovers line but maybe a little bit of a mix of different musicians rather than focused around one musician. But I can definitely see us bringing back another icon issue, and we’d love to remount Lovers of Zeppelin again next year and tour it as well, because it was so well received. Because it was our first show, we only did one show, and then we did end up doing an encore. We didn’t anticipate that we would get so much attention, and now that we have it, we’re ready to run with it because we’re just so excited for more people to share in the experience.”
Are you experienced? (So many puns! So little room!) Get experienced and get your tickets here – they’re going fast.
Check back next week when we catch up with a few more Lovers – Marlie Collins, Rachel Routledge and Aimee Payne – as they let us in on what it’s been like rehearsing for the show that’s about to rock Vancouver.