There is barely 15 minutes to go before the curtain rises on Windsor’s chance to see the amusing and highly biographical A Funny Proposition, a one-man cabaret show with piano accompaniment. The middle-aged man in the middle of the Proposition, the incomparable Bruce Dow, is wandering the Kordazone Theatre in search of a missing pair of corrective lens.
Misplacing things is a sure-footed signal that middle age has arrived. A second reconnaissance mission is successful, the glasses are found under some seats. He reasons they were sitting on the top of his head and simply fell off.
He is ready to launch his Proposition. Aside from giving Windsorites an evening with a hyper talented actor and singer, it is also his way of framing, in comedy and song, a coming to terms of sorts with his advancing age.
He takes his audience on a musical journey through the songs that meant so much to him, in his past. He admits to dusting them off for probably the last time. Aging, is indeed the funny proposition he finds himself in, but, in a post show discussion with the audience, he cautions that his self-penned show is nowhere close to being an overt sign of a mid-life crisis. As he explains it, it is more of an exorcism.
A time to clean out the memories musical milestones generate and get on with the twenty or thirty or so years he has left on the planet, which, happens to include a role in a Broadway production opening in March. It is a bit hush-hush he says, contracts have not yet been inked.
Making it to Broadway again, after a number of trips along with work on famed Stratford and Toronto stages has allowed the 55-year-old performer to accumulate a most prestigious biography and a number of awards, all that are not given easily.
Dow is a serious collection of rarely matched talent, which makes an evening with him so delightful. His singing range is incredible and he knows how to use it to full advantage. Throughout the evening Mike Karloff, a cross-border pianist equally at home performing with the Windsor Symphony as he is with Detroit’s equivalent, provides the music.
Karloff worked with Dow on the Proposition last year during performances at music festivals in Stratford and Prince Edward County. He is one of Dow’s biggest fans, and for good reason.
While quick to use superlatives, in a discussion with Eyes On Windsor, he adds a fascinating tidbit. The full piano score was actually composed by Dow and is an example of his “incredible versatility.”
Dow is also a master performer who clearly owns the stage, as well as the area in front of it and the seating’s middle aisle. He effortlessly flows through his soon to be discarded tunes giving them more than their just due. Some carry messages that reflect where he is, but not always why. One of the most poignant is his rendition of Joni Mitchell’s 1969 release Both Sides Now in which, like the young Joni, he admits to not knowing love at all.
In a way, it explains some of the mysteries of life, something middle aged people often contemplate. But once released to the audience, Dow is content to carry on with expectations of new songs and newer memories and, possibly accept that, on occasion he might need to call out a search party to find his missing spectacles.
He has reached the point of his career where he is happy spending time with his “self-sufficient cat” and comfortable hoping if the phone rings on a quiet Saturday night, it isn’t for him. But on those nights, he will not dwell on the past nor will he be like most middle-aged people he has observed, so afraid of failure they do nothing.
We can expect to see much more of Dow as he graciously moves into whatever it is which comes after middle-age in this funny proposition called life. Hopefully in a decade or so, he can do another Spring cleaning of sorts.
For more about Bruce Dow visit http://brucedow.com
For more about Kordazone Theatre and upcoming events visit http://kordazone.com
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.