Adrian Glynn & Marlene Gineader
in Chelsea Hotel
photo: Sarah Race Photography

The Firehall Arts Centre
Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen by Tracey Power and Steve Charles

When & Where Performance Times: Tues - Sat , 7:30pm & matinees on Saturday & Sunday at 3pm | Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E. Cordova

Director Tracey Power Musical Director Steve Charles Tracey Power Set and Costume Design Drew Facey Design Consultant Ted Roberts Lighting Design John Webber Sound Design Trevor Tews Stage Manager Emma Hammond

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Leonard Cohen is one of Canada’s national treasures. How fortunate are those who had the opportunity to see him perform while he lived! And for others, how fortunate to experience this wonderful creation of the spirit of his work set down in a coherent narrative. Since 2012, Chelsea Hotel has toured the country, taking audiences on an emotional ride through the joys and torments of creative genius. This excellent Firehall Arts Centre production continues the magic of the ride.

The atmosphere is dreamlike, with emotion and essence ruling over mind and hard fact. Tracey Power’s directing vision is masterful in presenting the performance this way. We are suspended, not rooted; guided, not driven; wondering, not certain; but always fully experiencing the feelings, motivations, and consequences of the moment. This comes from the incredible talents of all the performers as actors, singers, dancers and musicians.

Adrian Glynn McMorran is spellbinding in his journey through ecstasies of romance and easy creativity, carefree disposal of love interests, denial of regret, artistic emptiness, immobilizing loneliness, and redemptive realization in a bittersweet “cold and broken hallelujah”. Jack Garton shines as a guiding conjurer and clown figure, for both the audience and the artist. His words and antics are sarcastic, funny, teasing, sensitive and magical in effect, for both the audience and the performers…an ironic kind of guiding mirror for everyone.

Tracey Power, Marlene Ginader and Michelle Bouey, as muses and lovers, are captivating! Their harmonies, dances, gestures and expressions leave deep emotional impressions along the way, joyful, painful, disdainful, in wonderment and in certainty. Steve Charles, a remarkably talented multi-instrumentalist and performer, plays a sort of hide-and-seek game throughout the performance - a soft-spoken, stay-in-the-background kind of guy, who absolutely nails it in his one lead song that has the deadly-quiet audience absolutely enthralled.

The dreamlike set is functional and effective, and light and sound are abundantly suitable for mood and atmosphere. They all come together to create a night that “will be fine for a while.”

This performance is truly memorable for its ethereal effect, emotional and spiritual pulls and pushes, and downright hard, real talent. This will stay in visceral memory, for sure. See it.

© 2024 Christian Steckler