The Beach Street Players have been itching to get back on stage. But with the stages all closed due to COVID-19, their voices have been silenced.
Now, thanks to Gloria Herauf, the popular singing group is belting out the songs once again – on the street!
On Balmoral Avenue, in Comox, to be precise.
“We did our show in February [just before the lockdown]… but ever since then, due to COVID, all of us singers can’t sing together. Can’t sing in choirs, can’t perform in orchestras, so it’s been frustrating, because all my people want to sing,” said Herauf. “So I thought, why not try this?
“It’s a way to get together. I call it ‘singing on the driveway.’ ”
Herauf has broken the Beach Street Players into smaller groups, and each week or so, one of the groups joins her on her driveway, at 1583 Balmoral Ave.
With Herauf on keyboards, and Al West on bass, the singers get a chance to perform some of their favourite songs, while maintaining the appropriate distancing.
“It’s not easy – playing outdoors presents a lot of challenges on its own. The [physical distancing] compounds that,” said Herauf. “Yes, we get to sing, and you can hear the piano, and Al on bass… but you really can’t hear the singing when you aren’t grouped together. And they don’t hear each other. But they are singing, they are smiling, and they are together. So we love doing it.”
Herauf has been doing these ‘concerts’ since the end of April. She admits that they are not particularly listener-friendly, but it’s not being done as much for the pleasure of others as it is for the singers themselves.
“People do come by, and stop, and smile, or stop across the street, but Balmoral is a busy street, so it’s really not conducive to people sitting around enjoying a concert. It’s not a cul-de-sac. But there’s usually somebody sitting in a chair somewhere, listening in. And if we can bring a little joy to others around, then that’s a bonus.”
The song list varies from week to week.
“The first week we sang songs to make you feel better, then songs about Canada … and right now we are doing songs from past shows, because we made songbooks up from all the (Have a Heart) shows of the past 10 years,” said Herauf.
Herauf said there is no set schedule for when the concerts happen.
“I look up the weather and say, ‘OK it looks like next week will be nice weather,’ and I pick a day. So I can’t ever say for sure when the next one will be. It’s never a set time or day.”
In addition to the regular Beach Street Players performers, Herauf said she has had a couple of special guest appearances along the way.
“Sheleena Faust was in our group forever – she was our youngest performer – but she went off to Toronto a few years ago. She came home in March and so she has been joining us. And then my neighbour down the road is Katy Bowen-Roberts, the music director who produces the Yellowpoint Christmas show. So she joins us whenever she can too.”