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Stunning stagecraft: Treasa Levasseur shows she can play a crowd just as well as her piano

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Treasa Levasseur in concert at The Centre, April 17, a presentation of the Dryden Entertainment Series and the end to the 2012/13 series. Photo by Jon Thompson

By Jon Thompson

Musicians who have theatre training can sneak a show into a concert so seamlessly it almost isn’t fair.

Curtains fell gracefully on the Dryden Entertainment Series’ season as pianist and vocalist Treasa Levasseur puppeteered her audience as a third instrument.

Wielding showbiz as a sixth sense, the diverse performer intuitively played the crowd, at times stopping mid-song and letting her modest band carry the beat as she called the audience into conversation, both during and between songs.

At first, Levasseur was fresh but frazzled from the road and her first few songs were the small talk of a traveler feeling out the niceties of being a guest in a stranger’s home. The music became sleight-of-hand – the action scenes among soliloquies she unfurled as a three-act play.

As her show gained steam, the stories began to connect and her character was revealed through the music. She had played rap, heavy metal and her first album was singer/songwriter folk. Then her band left her in a parking lot in Memphis and rich depth filled her rising action as she took her audience through an awakening that reflected in song.

By the time she had determined which couple in the room had been together for the longest, she was leading an intimate conversation that disclosed reconciling her spirituality as the daughter of a Catholic priest, revealing her struggles with raising her child and apprehension over the gnawing uncertainty for the future that accompanies the artist life. From prankster actions in Toronto to the healing power of music, she came to embody the personal struggle of making a life while making a difference.

The act drew crackling applause through the first upbeat set like a fresh fire. By the time Levasseur’s timeline revealed the deeper theme, the cheering had become hot, from the bottom of the coals.

The entertainment series will kick off in September with Canadian legend, Bruce Cockburn.

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