A&E » Arts

Two Footes are better than one

Family entertainer Norman Foote is joined by his daughter Maria Gabrielle for First Night entertainment



What: First Night

Who: Norman Foote

When: Monday, Dec. 31

Where: Festival Mainstage

First Night in Whistler is all about family and if there was a Mr. Family of Entertainment, Norman Foote would be it.

The entertainer draws on the tradition of vaudeville to sing, play and laugh his way into audiences’ hearts, young and old. Something he plans to do for yet another First Night celebration on Monday, Dec. 31 from 7:30 to 8:15 p.m. on the festival mainstage and at 9 p.m. in the Kid’s Zone at the Telus Conference Centre.

This year his daughter, singer Maria Gabrielle, will join him.

“That’s her stage name,” he explains. “It’s hard to make it as a ‘Foote’.”

It’s hard to say the last name without at least a little bit of a giggle. However, Foote, born Norman Mervyn Barrington Foote, says it forced him to develop a sense of humour at an early age — and it just hasn’t stopped, especially as a father of five.

Foote is one of those rare musicians whose music has crossed over to both the adult and children markets.

“Doing both markets; that is probably the worse thing you can do as a musician,” he said. “But I seem to get jobs in both demographics.”

The secret?

“I think I am just trying to entertain myself, basically,” he said.

Each Foote show includes a series of songs with monologue “shtick” interludes in between.

Foote has written and recorded songs for Disney Records, Shari Lewis, and the Scoop and Doozie CBC-syndicated television show, among others. He recently completed songs for the Little Bear album Winter Tales and the touring theatre show.

Foote divides his time between performing and songwriting. He’s currently working on two new albums: one for families and kids, the other for adults. Humour and universal truths cross over between the genres with tracks off his adult album such as Losing My Hair Over You and 50 Ways to Lose Your Blubber — a spoof on Paul Simon’s song 50 Ways to Lose Your Lover.

“Give up the bread Fred,” Foote rhymes from the lyrics. “Make a new plan Stan.”

Plans for Foote lately include a lot of adult shows with performances at festivals and in concert halls through North America, including shows with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony and London Symphony. He’s even performed at the Montreal Comedy Festival Just For Laughs and the Salmon Arm Roots Blues Festival where the Pointer Sisters headlined. Foote performed with Maria to a crowd of more than 5,000 people.

“I got so many great comments about her,” Foote said of the show. “She knows she can sing, but do I really want to push her into the music industry?”

The answer? You just need to watch a Norman Foote performance to know that Foote wouldn’t have it any other way. Performers aren’t made, but born — especially the ones with funny last names.

Other First Night mainstage performances include juggler Matt Levy at 6:15 p.m., Allison Crowe at 8:30 p.m., Soul Funktion dancers at 9:45 p.m., DJ Neoteric at 10:30 p.m. and finally the First Night countdown and fireworks at 11:50 p.m.

The mainstage is located in Village Square. Whistler-Blackcomb’s Fire and Ice spectacular will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Skier’s Plaza. The Kids Zone counts down New Year’s Eve early at 9:30 p.m. with fireworks at the Telus Conference Centre. The Kids Zone also hosts a Mascot Challenge at 8:15 p.m.

Teens can dance the night away at the Much Video Dance Party from 6 p.m. to midnight at the Telus Conference Centre main ballroom.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children. Tickets are available at the Tourism Whistler Activity Centre, the Whistler Information Centre or on line at whistlerfirstnight.com.