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VSO Kids Konzert

Al Simmons

Date 9 April 2006 Venue Orpheum Theatre Reviewer Heidi Hoff

Children’s entertainer Al Simmons is many things: part singer, part vaudevillian, part inventor. Put them all together and you get a man passionate about his art and putting a smile on every person he entertains, young or old.

Simmons’ recent appearance with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Kids Konzert series was a perfect hour of rollicking, good old fashioned fun, something that is sorely lacking on the children’s entertainment scene today. Walking out on stage wearing a pair of pants that were obviously too long, he broke out into song, “Sam, you Made my Pants too Long”, illustrating the trials and tribulations he has with his tailor.

After that, it was one costume change after another, with Simmons donning a tuxedo jacket, lab coat, and for his closing number, a cowboy vest. Creative skits heavy on audience participation accompanied each Al persona.

Those lucky enough to be in attendance at The Orpheum were treated to an extra special show with the VSO who acted as musical back-up. The pairing was genius, with Simmons introducing each section of the orchestra (strings, woodwind, percussion and brass) and complimenting the instruments with his own inventions created with tin cans, garden hoses, a turkey baster and straws. The results were hilarious and children were encouraged to experiment with items found around their homes to create their own musical instruments. What a wonderful way to introduce the orchestra to youngsters!

A Juno award winner and proud Manitoban, Simmons hails from a long line of entertainers slash inventors. His 36 years in show business have included performing as a clown at children’s birthday parties to an appearance on Sesame Street. These days, Simmons is a festival regular and chances are he’ll be coming to a town near you soon.

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© 2006 Heidi Hoff