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Taking on the hits of Motown

Theatre Ancaster’s Mainstage tribute concert series will feature local blues icon Harrison Kennedy.

Kicking off the 2024 Mainstage tribute concert series for Theatre Ancaster is the Music of Motown, featuring local legend Harrison Kennedy. 

According to Colin Lapsley, the executive director of the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre and a noted local musician, this show will uniquely highlight the accompanying orchestra’s horn section as well as Harrison’s talents.

“He’s doing a Chairman of the Board hit that he was on, “Give Me Just a Little More Time”, that’s fantastic. You know I’ve done it with him a hundred times but not with the horn section so this will be really special.”

Theatre Ancaster has a long-standing tradition of working with community-level artists. You don’t have to be a pro, just have talent and a love of performing, he says.

Community performers from the cast of The Music of Motown. PHOTO: Dylan Vandemaele/WHOA Productions

“We have professional sound and a professional band to support these non-professional singers that are actually really strong. Just because you are a real estate agent doesn’t mean you can’t sing well, you just took a different career path.”

This 20-year-long annual concert series has been popular with audiences and is looking to be a success again, Lapsley says, with the hits of the Detroit record label that founded the signature sound.

“This is a three-week run in a 500-seat theatre, so there’s going to be close to 4,000 people coming to this so it’s an event. It’s so great for these people. You can tell they really work hard at it. So much goes into it behind the scenes, he says, noting the performance of an  “amazing” local kindergarten teacher whose supporters scream through her songs. 

Harrison's presence in the show is meaningful, says Lapsley. “Creating a Motown show, to have a guy that was actually there and an actual living Motown legend is just mind-blowing for us … Harrison is still legit and as strong as ever. His voice is phenomenal. He’s a bit of a miracle.”

Harrison Kennedy will be featured in the upcoming performances of The Music of Motown. PHOTO: Dylan Vandemaele/WHOA Productions

The 82-year-old Kennedy returns from a tour in France to hit the Ancaster stage. 

The Music of Motown tribute concert will bring a variety of approaches, says Lapsley. 

“You’re going to get a cool juxtaposition between maybe a bar band playing Motown tunes, and a Taylor Swift level of Motown stuff where it’s very specifically rehearsed with a good touch of grit to it, which is what I like to bring to it. I do a lot of musical theatre as well but I often wish it was a little more rock and roll you know. It’s a little too clean, a little too pristine for my tastes so this is a nice combination of both.”

The cast of The Music of Motown surround Harrison Kennedy. PHOTO: Dylan Vandemaele/WHOA Productions


The Music of Motown at Theatre Ancaster
Peller Hall at the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre
357 Wilson St. E.
April 19, 20, 26, 27, May 3, 4 at 7:30 pm
April 21, 28, May 5 at 2 pm
Tickets are here