The Village Playhouse was packed on Saturday night with fans of Afro-Cuban Jazz who came to be delighted by Juno Award winner Jane Bunnett and her powerhouse Cuban band, Maqueque. The crowd was rewarded with two sets of killer beats, breathtaking solos and vocals that delivered chills. All of this while Jane Bunnett lead the way with her signature flute and soprano sax. And through it all, Bunnett added to the rhythm with jokes and anecdotes that won the hearts of everyone in the audience.
The evening was light and playful and the Village Playhouse has never seemed so intimate. For those sitting in the plush seats, it felt like Bunnett had just shown up for a private party with some old friends. There was laughter, uproarious applause – the kind that makes your hands sore well into the next day and there were moments of silence as people were lost in the back and forth of the musical dialogue that happened without any noticeable effort. This was a night of great music.
Every one of the musicians, Jane Bunnett, vocalist Daymé Arocena, percussionist Magdelys Savigne, drummer Yissy García, pianist Danae Olano, and bassist Celia Jimenez brought raw talent and a playful presence to the Playhouse stage. Supported by the lighting design of Mark Elsley and the remarkable sound support of Jesse Hanna, the evening proved to be a musical adventure that no one will forget.
The concert was a fundraiser for the Village Playhouse Repair Fund. After taking over management of the theatre in the spring, Hospice North Hastings, the new lease holder, compiled a long list of repairs needed at the historic theatre. Saturday’s event will add to the fund and Hospice Coordinator Heather Brough says work will be soon be underway to repair the aging balcony, to ventilate the attic and to complete a refresh of the building’s exterior.
Bunnett told the audience she was happy to support the work of Hospice and that she had always wanted to play at the Village Playhouse. Bunnett said playing the concert and supporting the theatre and the work Hospice does in the community is really a win, win, win. Those in the audience, some from as far away as Toronto and Ottawa, completely agreed.
With more great events being booked all the time, there is a bright future ahead for the Bancroft Village Playhouse. And thanks to artists like Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, it looks like the needed repairs will be completed in the near future.