One man, 90 minutes, 400 singing voices
The man of 400 voices is returning to Victoria.
Vocal impressionist and comedian André-Phillipe Gagnon is launching his 2012-13 tour, The One Man Hit Parade from the Royal Theatre on Tuesday (Nov. 6).
It’s Gagnon’s first visit to the Island this decade and “too long since the last time,” said the 49-year-old, from his Quebec home last week.
Gagnon’s been a stage hit since he caught international fame for his adaptation of We Are The World in 1985. Gagnon wowed audiences of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show with his impersonation of all 21 solos on the 1985 African benefit song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.
The essence of Gagnon’s product hasn’t changed. Gagnon’s gone on to do so many voices, some have called him the man of 2,000 voices.
But the 2012 stage show is a lot bigger, and better, than the kid whose spot-on Jean Chretien could carry him all night, music regardless.
“One Man Hit Parade is the first time we put the singing impersonations together chronologically, from Bill Haley, to Woodstock, to Boy George and Phil Collins, to Gnarles Barkley and Maroon 5,” Gagnon said.
The stage show has evolved, too. He sharpened his between-song comedy with help from acclaimed writer George Reinblatt of Rick Mercer Report and Just for Laughs fame.
“The comedy is not so much political, not that I won’t do Harper,” Gagnon said. “And sometimes still, there is a need to do Chretien, just because.”
Gagnon’s gift of gifts has always been his singing. And he hears about it to this day.
“I am often asked to do certain singers, such as Neil Young, but I won’t be singing him this time around. There is only so many you can do in 90 minutes. I have to tell fans to be patient, next time we’ll do them.”
Patience being the key word, as Gagnon will rattle off upwards of a dozen impressions per minute.
Audience members beware: Gagnon will mimic you too.
“I do impersontions of someone from the crowd as part of the final act. They get to sing. And I will try to sing like them.”
Song selection at that point comes from the ‘Apod.’
“A giant iPod, it detects motion, you can move the songs with your arms, and holds a library of my songs, it’s great fun.”
The Western tour continues onto Nanaimo, Vancouver, Kelowna, Edmonton and Calgary, and shifts into high gear with week-long stays in Montreal and Quebec City, and a rural Quebec tour in December and January. Following that, he heads off to Europe.
Tickets for the Victoria show are available at rmts.bc.ca. The show is at 8 p.m.