If you’re susceptible to waltzes, you’ve probably heard of Andre Rieu, the Netherlands-born founder of the Johann Strauss Orchestra. His first CD, From Holland With Love, made him a cult hero in Europe. His second, The Vienna I love, has sold more than 50,000 copies in Canada alone.Rieu is a big, charming man whose audiences are encouraged to get up and dance in the aisles of whatever concert hall he’s playing. You can see this in the 75-minute video version of The Vienna I love, which first surfaced on PBS and is now available as a home video from Philips.He faces his audience and manages to lead his orchestra (while also playing his violin) with a nod of his head or the flow of his bow. On the CD’s, and the video, Rieu features music not only by Strauss but by Lehar, Offenbach and Von Suppe.
Given his personality and the perennial popularity of this sort of music, Rieu seems headed for international super-stardom of the kind once accorded Liberace and Lawrence Welk.
There are plans for a North American tour early in 1998, quite possibly with concerts in Toronto and Montreal.
Check your book store this month for Such Melodious Racket, The Lost History of Jazz in Canada, 1914-1949, by Mark Miller. The astute jazz writer for The Globe and Mail and author of several books has done exhaustive research and come up with a fascinating volume about the beginnings of jazz in our country, started by the migration of African Americans to Alberta early in this aging century.
What’s playing at the Roxy?
Mark and Cathy Christoff are surely among the most enterprising and energetic boomers in Uxbridge, Ont. Both former Torontonians, they settled in the town about a decade ago and started a cardboard box manufacturing company called Tri-Corr Packaging.
Their interest in movies prompted them to open the Roxy Theatre in Uxbridge last December. It’s the first movie house there in more than 20 years. So far, the Christoffs have pumped more than $500,000 into the venture, and they admit that without their other business, the Roxy wouldn’t be able to survive — yet.
Having decided to open the Roxy, they went all out, spending some $80,000 just to give the theatre a classy front, and many thousands more on getting the latest, most sophisticated projection equipment available.
Three weeks before opening, they heard a rumor that Cineplex was planning to open an eight-screen theatre in nearby Port Perry. Fortunately, the rumour turned out to be untrue, so the Roxy opened on schedule.
Happily, the Roxy has caught on, thanks largely to the Christoffs’ skills. The beautifully refurbished theatre has two screens, which show current movies every night.
Late last spring, Mark and Cathy initiated Art Film Night, once a month, and showed such movies as Sling Blade and Kolya, both of which won Academy Awards in April. The response was good enough that the Art Film policy has resumed this fall. Among the films to be shown are Ulee’s Gold, the acclaimed Peter Fonda movie, and one of the most popular movies of all time, Casablanca.
The Roxy also began a “Theme Night” last summer with Grease. Patrons were encouraged to attend in 1950’s attire and a lot of Uxbridge people went along with the idea. Mark and Cathy hope to follow it up this season with Dirty Dancing, the Patrick Swayze film. They thought about Saturday Night Fever, but decided against it because the movie, which launched John Travolta’s career, contains some coarse language.
Both Christoffs love living in Uxbridge — “We’re lifers,” says Cathy — and they display a palpable community spirit. Cathy is now sponsoring a group called “Uxbridge Kids in Action,” which encourages youngsters to get involved in community work — mowing lawns, helping seniors, etc. When an Uxbridge kid completes 10 such chores, he or she gets his own star on the Roxy’s Wall of Fame — and free admission to the theatre.
The attractive Markham (Ont.) Theatre for the Performing Arts has some goodies lined up this fall, including Driving Miss Daisy (Oct. 14-18), the Blue Canadian Skies tribute to Glenn Miller (led by Don Pierre) on Oct. 17-29, and Ain’t Misbehavin’, the musical featuring the great songs of the inimitable Fats Waller (Nov. 18-22).
It was Tony Bennett who recalled something Jimmy Durante said to him some years ago: “Rock ‘n Roll has only three chords — and two of them are wrong.”