'We've invited him, we're still waiting': Power

Rachel Aberle, Steve Charles, Benjamin Elliott, Marlene Ginader and Lauren Bowler in Chelsea Hotel.  - DAVID COOPER
Rachel Aberle, Steve Charles, Benjamin Elliott, Marlene Ginader and Lauren Bowler in Chelsea Hotel.
— image credit: DAVID COOPER

In 2009, when writer-director Tracey Power opened her musical biography of Maillardville’s Lucille Starr, the Canadian country music pioneer was in the audience to see how it played out.

Two years ago, Power premiered her Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen at The Firehall Arts Centre but she has yet to see the legend at one her of performances.

“We’ve invited him,” she said. “We’re still waiting.”

Luckily, Tri-City audiences will get a chance to view Power’s production next month when the Arts Club Theatre makes a stop in Coquitlam as part of its Lower Mainland tour.

Previously seen in Saskatoon and Winnipeg, Chelsea Hotel played in West Vancouver earlier this month and is now at the Surrey Arts Centre until March 1. “You always hope it takes on another life,” she said, noting the local shows have been well received.

Conceived, directed and choreographed by Power, Chelsea Hotel tells the tale of a writer stuck in the famous New York City hotel, torn by lovers past and present.

Power said she wanted to give the production a kind of “carnival feel” — with six actors playing 17 instruments — to show her protagonist’s state of mind, in an abstract way.

And Cohen’s songs were the perfect backdrop to capture that chaotic scene.

“I never thought about anybody else but Cohen,” she said. “His music and lyrics speak to me. It’s the simpleness of his melodies and the poetry of his words.”

Cohen’s tunes also add an element of mystery to the performance, she said. “Every time you hear his songs, there’s something new. You can’t figure it all out in just one listening. It keeps you learning and wanting more.”

The two-hour musical includes 25 Cohen works — some of which are popular, others “you probably didn’t know he wrote,” Power said.

• Tickets for Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen are $39/$30/$15 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam). The show runs March 4 to 8 at 8 p.m., with a 4 p.m. matinee on March 8. Next Tuesday’s opener includes a free pre-show chat for ticket-holders at 7:15 p.m. in the lobby with Donna Spencer, artistic director of the Firehall Arts Centre.









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