This weekend, three talented and lovely ladies grace the stage at the Neptune Theatre in Halifax for five fabulous performances. Maureen Batt, Laura Caswell and Sarah Richardon are Diva Station. Recently we spoke to the trio about what audiences can expect to enjoy.
How did the group first get together?
We had been hosting varying song interpretation and vocal workshops at Neptune Theatre. Each one of us leading with our strengths: Laura with a bright Broadway belt; Maureen with a classical background, and vocal pedagogy experience; Sarah with a modern-day/rock/pop vocal edge. Eventually, we had the opportunity to all lead a workshop together. Later that evening, we started chatting about how much fun working together was, and, with our range of styles, that we should sing together sometime…find some reason to do so. And so, Diva Station was born.
Tell us about your style & sound.
Each of us has our “happy place” - the style in which we are strongest and most familiar. Opera, Broadway, and Rock n’ Roll. The wonderful thing is not only will you hear us in our own favourite styles, but we cross over into each other’s as well. With Diva Station, we strive to push each other out of our comfort zones, and, in doing so, we hope to give the audience an unexpected treat with each song.
How did the Neptune shows come about?
Diva Station had been chatting about trying to do some shows over the holiday season, either for concerts or special events. We were basically brainstorming opportunities to perform together. At that time, one of the Divas, Laura Caswell had been co-hosting a monthly event called “Open Stage” at the Carleton. Diva Station decided to arrange a few holiday numbers and audience favourites, and then tried them out at the December show. Word got out to Neptune’s new artistic director Jeremy Webb that it would be a great night on their stage and so Songs Through the Ages was born.
What are the challenges involved in putting the shows together?
The biggest challenge that we had putting the show together doesn’t sound very modest, but it is something for which we are grateful: We are all successful and working in our fields. So, scheduling us all/having us all in town at the same time has been a bit of a process sometimes! Throughout our incarnation you could find us all performing here in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada. Laura was recently performing with Drayton Theatre, Maureen with Essential Opera, and Sarah is a member of Neptune’s Chrysalis Project (recently completing her work as assistant musical director on “The Color Purple” which you should all go see!). We are also all educators; Laura is the Director of Education at Neptune; Maureen is a music festival adjudicator, a private voice teacher, and a gives masterclasses and workshops in schools; and Sarah is a musical director, an educator within Neptune. So, our collective calendar has been our biggest challenge. Our next biggest challenge was song selection. Each of us has such a broad background, and so many songs we love to sing. We had to narrow it down! But don’t worry, we’ve kept all our brainstorming notes for future set lists and shows!
What are the rewards?
Sarah - The biggest reward for me is the chance to sing with two dear friends. To share the love we all have for music, and the joy we get performing it together, with audiences. We are so grateful to Neptune Theatre for giving us this opportunity. Also, I love the opportunity to work with a band, and having Gwen Dawson, Richard Belding, and Mike Carroll along for the ride on this project has been wonderful.
Laura - I love to sing. And even more importantly I love to sing with other people. And to have the opportunity to sing with these super talented humans, Maureen and Sarah, brings me so much joy. It is such a fun challenge to sing different genres, songs I never thought I would have the chance to sing. I learn something new every day I get to work with them - and that is so very important to me in my own development as an artist. Also, the challenge of finding unique and simple ways to tell the story, to entertain and to put our own stamp on things is creatively thrilling.
Maureen - When we first started talking about forming this trio, I didn’t know what it would be. All I knew is that Laura and Sarah were exceptional performers and that getting to perform with them would be awesome. It’s not every day that you have this kind of a fusion of musical genres. As a group, we can offer so much more than just one of us could. We are singing with our own voices -- in our own “happy places” as Sarah puts it as well as in each other’s -- while also getting to grow artistically. We are lifting each other up with our individual strengths, and this feels empowering and exciting.
What can audiences expect?
Audiences can expect to hear all the hits! Plus a few surprises! No matter what genre of music appeals to you, you are going to hear something that makes your heart sing. We’re very excited to bring audiences our unique takes and new arrangements of songs you know and love. We hope you love it as much as we do! And, in keeping with our 3-prong representation of genres, you will definitely hear Opera, Broadway, and Rock N Roll.
What are the group's future plans?
Diva Station is just beginning. We’re hopeful that this Diva Debut at Neptune is going to help propel us towards our other goals. We want to tour this production. And we’re already working on holiday shows. We have also begun plans for an EP!