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Barber looking forward to Rawlinson debut

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Barber looking forward to Rawlinson debut
Terry Barber will perform a selection of hits from the musical of Andrew Lloyd Weber at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday, Feb. 9. -- Photo by Black Swan Photography.

Terry Barber’s current trip to Saskatchewan has easily been better than his last one.

It’s been longer too. Much longer.

Barber, an international countertenor, was scheduled to perform at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre shortly after COVID hit in March 2020. However, instead of touring Prince Albert, he ended up being the first in a long list of cancellations during the initial wave of COVID cases.

“They (my agents) were saying, ‘no, no, don’t worry. It’s on. It’s on,’” Barber remembered with a laugh when asked about his cancelled Prince Albert performance on Tuesday. “My collaborator and I spent an entire day flying from the east coast to northwest Canada, and then we landed and were told it was off. We had dinner in Canada, and then turned around the next full day and went home.”

Thankfully, Barber’s current trip north has been free of unexpected cross-border travel. Prince Albert is his fourth stop on a five-city Western Canada tour. It’s also his only date in Saskatchewan.

Barber said he’s looking forward to singing at the Rawlinson since he first talked with organizers in 2018. He’s grateful for their hard work and attention to detail in getting the stage ready for the performance. It’s just one of the reasons he loves touring Canada.

“I really like Canada and I like the people,” he said during a phone interview from Edmonton on Tuesday. “I’ve had a specific fast food pierogi restaurant that I wanted to go to here that I’ve been to twice, so it’s just really great. I really love Canada. I wouldn’t be surprised if I lived here someday.”

Barber has a role in multiple musical groups, including an act with best friend Jonathan Cummings where the due sing hits by folk-rock legends Simon & Garfunkel. He’s also a member of EleMenTrio, a three person group scheduled to make their debut in April.

However, Barber plans to go solo on the stage in Prince Albert, where he’ll perform selections from 10 of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals, including Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Requiem, Sunset Boulevard, Evita, and Phantom of the Opera.

“When you look at a typical composer of any style or band, or music writer, they have a sound,” Barber explained. “You can go to a show for an hour and a half and listen to one sound, but not with Lloyd Weber and not with this show. You get some that sound classical and some that sound like traditional Broadway songs and other sounds that are even more like rock.”

Barber said there are certain Lloyd Webber songs every fan expects to hear, but he also tries to slip in a few less popular tunes that he thinks deserve more exposure.

As for his favourite, Barber said it’s too difficult to judge.

“That’s really hard,” he said with another laugh. “There are a lot of good musical hits that he’s written.

“Phantom, of course, when you look at musical theatre, I would say it’s probably one of the most entertaining shows…. It’s very entertainment driven for a musical, and it’s got that horror aspect to it almost, so it’s very intense.

“Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, people had mixed feelings about them. (It was) controversial when they came out, and so I just find the music and the stories in both of those really compelling.”

Barber is looking forward to seeing the music and theatre scene bounce back after COVID. Music is about creating an emotional connection, he explained, and that’s difficult to do when singers aren’t in the same room as their audience.

“My goal as an artist is always to elicit emotion,” he said. “I feel like there is a shared experience in a room with others who are reacting emotionally to great art that is not replaceable. It’s cathartic. It’s healing. It’s inspiring. It’s so many things that nothing else is.

“You can connect with something on television and be moved, but it’s not the same as being in a room with a lot of other people who are being moved, and having that tidal wave of emotion with all the people around you and the reaction. It’s its own mechanism that cannot be replaced.”

Terry Barber performs at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit www.earc.ca or call the box office at 306-765-1270.