Bravura performs Nov. 3 in Courtenay at the Sid Williams Theatre.

Musical theatre, jazz and opera combine for Bravura at the Sid

Mark Allan

Special to The Record

If baritone singers are envious of the attention lavished on their higher-range tenor counterparts, George Masswohl isn’t aware of it.

“The thing about the baritones is that we’re pretty easy-going about it. We’re not jealous,” says one of the three members of Bravura in an interview.

“We’re cool to just do our thing,” Masswohl adds during a break from driving between Halifax and Moncton.

Baritones, he notes, typically get “the big, dramatic roles in the classical world and in the musical theatre world as well … If I have any notoriety for anything, it’s for playing Sweeney Todd.”

Villainous roles are the most fun, he says with a laugh.

Bravura, which performs Nov. 3 at the Sid Williams Theatre, is composed of three of Canada’s finest leading male singers from musical theatre, jazz, and opera.

James Levesque has been singing internationally for 15 years with organizations such as the Canadian Opera Company. His sonorous baritone occupies the centre of Bravura’s rich sound.

One of Canada’s most in-demand leading men, Masswohl has sung leading roles with the Stratford and Shaw festivals, Canadian Stage, Livent and Vancouver’s Arts Club as well as on and off Broadway. His bari-tenor range reaches above the others’.

Curtis Sullivan has extensive experience in Broadway musicals and opera. Starring in Toronto’s Opera Atelier, Canadian Stage and the Stratford Festival, Sullivan uses his bass-baritone to provide Bravura with gravitas.

Baritone, the most common male voice, has “a pretty broad” range, Masswohl observes. “We cover a lot of material that way.”

The trio’s repertoire ranges all the way from classic Broadway and pop, to Italian folk and classical.

“We’re probably going to be more popular and folk-oriented,” Masswohl reveals of the show in Courtenay. “They’re going to get more of a middle-of-the-road performance (between classical and popular).”

Besides John Lennon’s Imagine, “We do some Billy Joel … and some Stan Rogers.”

The threesome democratically spreads lead singing around and Masswohl describes the tightly knit trio as a band of brothers.

“We have a very fraternal deal in our performances, which isn’t a put-on. We travel in vans together, we listen to music together all the time … and we’re constantly in contact.”

Audience interaction is part of a Bravura performance, as is some humour, which Masswohl says happens naturally. “We have a really good time together, in the van and on the stage. It’s a fun, comfortable show.”

Harmonizing is “huge,” says Masswohl, adding that sought-after musical director Anthony Bastianon does all of the “magnificent” arrangements. “We get a real charge of mixing our voices together.

“We’ve developed a really good ear for one another. We can be approaching a new piece that Anthony brings us for the first time and find our dynamic almost instantly.”

Bravura released an EP last year and will perform all six tracks from it. If you visit bravurabaritones.com, you can listen to samples.

* * *

Bravura performs Nov. 3 in Courtenay as part of the Sid Williams Theatre Society’s 2017–2018 Blue Circle Series. For concert details and tickets, visit sidwilliamstheatre.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit 442 Cliffe Ave.

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