Q&A - Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen

Tracey Power on celebrating Canadian work and touring her show across the country

Presented by Theatre 20 with the support of Theatre Passe Muraille
A Firehall Arts Centre production
Directed and conceived by Tracey Power
Musical direction and arrangements by Steven Charles

Tracey Power

Since premiering at Vancouver's Firehall Arts Centre in 2012, Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen has made stops in Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Calgary, Victoria, Vernon, Banff, Fort McMurray and Edmonton. This month, the critically-acclaimed cabaret lands in Toronto at Theatre Passe Muraille. Written and conceived by Tracey Power (who also performs in the show) with musical direction and arrangements by Steven Charles, Chelsea Hotel features six performers playing seventeen instruments in a passionate tribute to the Canadian music icon set in New York's infamous hotel. 

Here, we chat with Power about her experience working on the show.

Theatromania: Tell us about Chelsea Hotel. What inspired this piece?

TP: It started as a piece that was story telling purely through movement and accordion music. Very much like what a silent film would look like. I wondered what would happen if I took the same idea but instead of accordion music, it was the music of Leonard Cohen. I never thought of any other artist. It was the poetic nature of his lyrics that inspired imagination and creativity and through his music could be beautifully interpreted on stage.

Theatromania: Has the production changed much since it premiered at Vancouver’s Firehall Arts Centre in 2012?

TP: Yes. Each time we get the opportunity to rehearse it I try new things, whether it be with movement or music. With each new actor that joins there are also shifts that happen as well. The show is flexible that way and we want to embrace each artist’s personality and talents.

Theatromania: What is your favourite Cohen song to perform? Why?

TP: It always seems to change but lately I am loving "I’m Your Man." It’s sexy and fun and full of surprise.

Theatromania: What have you learned from this experience so far?

TP: So much. Every city we have toured to has its own personality. The biggest and most exciting realization is that Canadian audiences want to celebrate Canadian work and their artists. Theatre fans are similar to sports fans in that they want to cheer for what’s local and what they feel ownership over. We often hear that new Canadian work is financially risky. I disagree. I actually think it’s what our audiences want to celebrate most.

Theatromania: What’s next for you?

TP: I’m continuing to work on a new musical, Miss Shakespeare, which premiered in Vancouver in 2015. It looks at the life of Judith Shakespeare and a group of women in 1615 who created theatre, literally underground as they were forbidden to practice it publically. And GLORY, a play inspired by the incredible story of the Canadian Hockey team, the Preston Rivulettes.

See Tracey Power in Chelsea Hotel from February 3 to 21, 2016 at Theatre Passe Muraille. Visit theatre20.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2016-02-03 - Sun, 2016-02-21



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