May. 09, 2012 - Issue #864: The Barbecutionist
The Swingin’ Sisters Club
"As artists we're storytellers, and the best stories come from history," she notes. It's that timecapsule element of art that likely led Ryan, alongside her sister Bridget and Beth Portman to develop The Swingin' Sisters Club, a cabaret-style collection of songs best deemed vintage. Settling into the 1940s era of song with a plot that finds these three taking over a small-town radio station to boost morale, it carries tunes with titles like "Tuxedo Junction" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," running from ballads to jitter bugs to big swing-ers, with a lot of wartime influence seeping in from the era these songs existed in.
"We kept coming across these great stories about women during the war," Ryan says. "They came across so much, just tough times to keep their spirits, just to keep things alive and moving while the rest of the world was experiencing devastating events. Through these stories, it was like, 'Let's celebrate these stories we've been finding.'"
The Sisters Club first premiered back at the 2006 Fringe, then saw a reprisal in 2008, with some touring through Alberta and BC. Ryan notes that returning to the material for a third go-around "Felt like yesterday, but it's not. A lot has happened to all of us since. We're coming back together and bringing something that, for us, is richer and more mature. That's the thing about this music: it's timeless in many ways, but also, the older and wiser we get, there's so much more that we find in it."
Sisters really is art as preservation, too: if these three weren't going out and collecting these stories and songs, they'd soon be lost to the passage of time.
"These women aren't around much longer," Ryan says. "It's a generation that will be greatly missed, and I am so greatful for this music and the stories. They are leaving an incredible legacy."
Fri, May 11; Sat, May 12 (8 pm); Sun, May 13 (12:30 pm & 3:30 pm)
Directed by Tim Yakimec
Capitol Theatre (Fort Edmonton Park), $20 – $28 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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