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Foote promises toe-tapping good time

Whistler Children’s Chorus teams up with popular all-ages entertainer to put on Olympic-themed performance

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What: Norman Foote in concert

When: Friday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Admission: Adults $15, kids $9.99

Norman Foote may call Vancouver home, but this all-ages entertainer has traveled around the world, entertaining children and adults alike with his music, puppets and “props with an attitude.”

“My show is equally as good for the parents and adults as it is for kids,” Foote explained. “And really, I’ve always maintained that, because I’ve always had to try and entertain myself as well.”

The self-professed modern day Vaudevillian was getting ready to head to Whistler on Tuesday to prepare for his upcoming performance. You see, while Foote has come to town before to perform for youthful crowds and as part of Whistler’s First Night celebrations, this time, he’ll be introducing a different aspect into his show — he’ll be singing with a local choir.

“When you say the word choir, sometimes people think it’s going to be boring, choral singing. But that’s not what this is,” Foote said.

Rather, the audience can expect an action-packed performance, loaded with sound effects, lively movement, loads of personality and music.

“I redefined choirs — I called them my animated wall of sound,” Foote added with a chuckle. “… If I have 100 kids in a choir, I call them, ‘Norman Foote and his 200 feet.’”

This certainly isn’t the first time Foote has collaborated with choral groups, but it will be his first time working with the Whistler Children’s Chorus, and it was all made possible by a local teacher.

“Alison Hunter is the one who has gathered up the youth choir,” he explained, adding that she was an integral force in organizing the performance.

Foote was scheduled to meet up with the 60-piece choir on Tuesday evening to write the music before their performance on Friday evening.

He had already met with choirs in Squamish to create three songs inspired by the upcoming Olympic celebrations coming to the region in 2010.

“I haven’t been hired by the Olympic committee,” Foote added. “We’re just using the Olympics as inspiration.”

With everyone else climbing on the Olympic bandwagon, Foote decided the timing was right to see what local children thought of the upcoming events.

“I think that we should use the Olympics to inspire us in any way they can,” he said.

Despite the emphasis on the Olympics, the audience can still expect some serious laughs.

“Entertainment comes first — it has to be interactive with the audience, it has to have an element of comedy and cleverness to it.”

The subject matter selected by the Squamish kids touches on everything from construction to the international visitors who are sure to come to town for the Games.

“Whether it’s about putting your best foot forward — no pun intended — or world peace, whether it’s about the environment… all of these things seem to tie into the Olympic fever.”

The collaborative songwriting process is pretty straightforward and natural, with Foote leading the kids in by asking them to come up with a title. And the ideas that came out of the session were surprisingly insightful.

“This little girl put her hand up and said, ‘building a road,’” said Foote. “Well, what a great title, because between Squamish and Whistler, yeah, you’re building a road, alright — you’re tearing down mountains. But it also means if you’re an athlete or if you’ve got anything that you’re trying to accomplish in life, you’re building a road. So, to some of these kids, they were just writing a song about building a road… but to some of the kids and teachers, and to me, it was building a road to your own success.”

The songwriting workshops are a highlight of Foote’s job, as they help include members of the local community.

“I find that with family entertainment and children’s entertainment, it’s true, I could just go up on stage and sing my songs and use my props and do my comedy routines, but when I actually include the community and include the kids, it empowers them,” he said.

The children don’t perform alongside Foote the entire time, either, and there are more than a few surprises in store for them. So while they are part of the show, they’re also part of the audience.

Foote has also just finished his seventh children’s CD, Love My Shirt , which is geared towards “kids and immature adults,” and is to be released at the upcoming Whistler performance.

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