Text by Hannah Yakobi.
Photos by Kalynn Friesen.
It was striking and memorable.
Close to 900 people filled up the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto on Monday. Many of them quietly wiped away tears, as they watched some of Canada’s top talents sing, dance and perform. The event was dedicated to supporting The Teal Heart Scholarship for ovarian cancer research, the most serious of all gynecological cancers. Over two-thirds of women who are diagnosed with it every year in Canada, succumb to it. But, if found early and treated, the survival rate is 90 per cent.
What started a year ago as a small event – stemmed from the idea of Darrin Bast, a dedicated and loving son whose mother is still battling ovarian cancer – has grown into a huge success, with almost a quadruple in attendance. It has attracted Canada’s elite from the entertainment industry, who have all joined hands to help raise funds for this exceptionally important cause.
Following a lavish reception and a silent auction with some incredibly unique items, the performances began at 8 p.m. The beauty of the art that was unfolding in front of the audience’s eyes was unlike any other.
Craig Fair and Alana Hibbert sang Let It Be, with a support of four back up singers, and a simultaneous performance of 13 dancers. The song was dedicated to their “friend and fierce angel” Leah Jackson, as well as Hibbert’s grandmother. The most touching part was when the lead dancer, who wore a headscarf throughout the entire performance, came up to another dancer at the end. Everyone stood around the two. The second dancer took off her scarf, to reveal her hair, and they hugged.
Ma-Anne Dionisio performed several of her songs in a melodic voice that made every word in her performance truly heartfelt. She received a standing ovation. Theo Tams dedicated his song Good Mother to “all the mothers who are here tonight, those who couldn’t make it and those who are no longer with us.” While he was singing, people in the audience hugged and held each other’s hands. Erin Poole swinged around the stage in a graceful ballet solo, titled Ne me quitte pas (Don’t Leave Me). Alana Bridgewater also performed several exceptionally emotion-filled numbers. She encouraged people to love and give, to which members of the audience wholeheartedly clapped in support. Jesse Labelle’s Don’t Leave Now was another song that brought tears to the eyes of many spectators. Celebrity dancer and choreographer Blake McGrath had the entire audience rise and clap to his performance. Other performers included: Mark Cassius; Gabriel Antonacci, Matthew Brown, Bryan Hindle and Grant Tilly of Toronto’s Jersey Boys; and Stephen Carrasco.
The closing act was Mama, A Rainbow, a personal choice of director Lee Poulin, performed by The Eastminster United Choir.
When Darrin Bast came to the stage at the end of the evening, he found it difficult to speak. Overwhelmed with emotion, he shared how hard the last few years have been and how proud he was to have his mother in the audience.
To find out more about Ovarian Cancer Canada, please go to http://www.ovariancanada.org/
To find out more about Heart & Music, please visit http://www.heartandmusic.com
The Heart & Music gala was photographed at the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatre by Kalynn Friesen. http://deedee.jobrary.com