Ioco Players to pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim

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There were beautiful parks, nice people and an abundance of fine bakeries. Still, something was missing.

After making his mark in marketing, Mike Arseneault had just moved to Port Moody when he found himself feeling like a teacher looking at an empty seat.

“I just realized that there was a gap,” he says.


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The City of the Arts, Arseneault decided, needed more art.

Having done theatre as an actor, singer, director, and producer for nearly 30 years, Arseneault founded the community theatre group the Ioco Players.

The idea is presenting stirring drama and beautiful songs in “intimate, stripped down” shows that can draw on community talent, he says.

The theatre company is also founded on the idea that art can bond a community like grout between tiles.

“As the City of the Arts we need to celebrate art in every form,” he says.

In order to celebrate two of the finest musical theatre artists in the past century, the Ioco Players are set to pay tribute to composers Stephen Sondheim and Stephen Schwartz with their musical revue Sondheim & Schwartz opening August 4 at Inlet Theatre.

With four scheduled performances, the revue combines song selections from each composer with personal stories from the Ioco players on what the music has meant to them.

Arseneault describes a brief meeting with Sondheim in 2001.

“Had the opportunity to shake his hand,” he says. “He’s the most brilliant composer and lyricist who has ever lived.”

Along with a few lesser-known tunes, the show walks through Sondheim’s career with selections from West Side Story (for which he was lyricist) as well as Sweeney Todd, Company, and Into The Woods.

Schwartz, who helped reinvent The Wizard of Oz for a younger generation with his contributions to Wicked, is also represented with songs from Pippin, Godspell, and The Prince of Egypt.

For Arseneault the revue is a showcase for two great talents.

“I really want people to leave with a better understanding of the contributions of those composers.”

For more information or to get tickets, click here.


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