Hank Stolz spoke with Lisa Condit, Ashleigh Prince and Adrien Finlay from Music Worcester about Trey McLaughlin & The Sounds of Zamar, changes to the upcoming Broadway season and more. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Lisa: Our special guest today is Adrien Finlay’s with Music Worcester, and he is the man responsible for bringing Trey McLaughlin and The Sounds of Zamar to The Hanover Theatre. We’ve been listening to them for the past few weeks, they are very hip and very cool. Where did you find them?
Adrien: There was an agency that we did quite a lot of work with, but I also heard them live, in early 2020, and we just had to book them. We’re very excited to have them and they will be part of this inaugural summer set of concerts that we’re doing, which is here to stay. We are now coming out of COVID as year-round presenters.
Lisa: If there’s one thing that the pandemic did for us is it helped us all realize how much we miss each other and miss doing things together. Especially the performing arts and music. Music especially, it brings us together and there is nothing like watching it live.
Adrien: Audiences can expect a very high energy afternoon into evening with Trey and The Sounds of Zamar. They call what they do “The Zamar Experience”, so you’re going to get quite a bit of musical theatre, a touch of Broadway, and some very recent works. I think they have a couple of selections from Hamilton on their tour this summer. The choir itself comes from a house of worship; they really do have that gospel element that they fill the program with. We are all in.
Lisa: There are a lot of great things that are happening with Music Worcester. Can you tell us a little bit more?
Adrien: We’re calling this initial effort “Summer at Music Worcester”. We tried to think a little bit differently, using venues during a time of year that we usually don’t. We put several things into outdoor venues for the first time. We’re in Auburn at The Riley Pappas Pavilion and we’re going to be at Indian Ranch for the first time ever. We’re working on some things for August as well and that’s to be announced.
Lisa: That’s amazing and the truth is there is plenty to go around for everyone. The more people enjoy performing arts in whatever venue they feel comfortable in, the more that they are going to experience and enjoy the performing arts, especially in other venues they might not think about.
Adrien: While it is a little scary to suddenly be presenting outdoor events, we’ve already had one rain postponement. It’s true, having many different venue options available to choose from makes it easier to enjoy. If you’re comfortable inside, we have pod seating available for The Sounds of Zamar on July 25. If you prefer the little bit of extra space, we have it for you. We also have some unrestricted seating.
Lisa: That’s exciting it really is. I know one question a lot of people have is “Am I going to need to wear my mask?”
Adrien: It’s personal preference. Make the best decision for you. If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask indoors, then of course wear it. We’re here to make this an experience that you want to be at, so it must be what works for you.
Lisa: That is a very good point, and of course outdoors is completely different from indoors. One of the things we’ve done at The Hanover Theatre is we require all our staff and backstage people to be vaccinated. We also have a Conservatory, so there are people of different ages and their families coming through our doors. There are some parts of the population that cannot be vaccinated, so those populations typically want to remain masked. For us as a presenter, it is up to the presenting organization and if there are equity actors involved what does Actors Equity say? This is an issue that will continue to ebb and flow.
Adrien: We know that about 90% of the group is fully vaccinated and there are just a few who have prepared to have their COVID tests before entering the building and before leaving Worcester.
Adrien: The group hails from Augusta, Georgia, and Trey has a fascinating background. Very strong in composition and arranging, which is reflected in what they bring to the stage. He is also having this burgeoning career in parallel as director of Sounds of Zamar, as this notable arranger and composer himself, and so I think his is a name that we will be seeing for many years.
Lisa: I have to say, I just love the name The Sounds of Zamar. Where did the name come from?
Adrien: I believe that it comes from their House of worship, which is one of the largest Baptist Churches where Trey is a music director. Most of the members, if not all of them, are from that choir. It’s a fascinating kind of paradigm too because so much of what they bring on tour, they can workshop during weekly rehearsals and services. What we’re getting on tour is really quite a finished product.
Lisa: I saw the Boston Symphony Orchestra gospel night. That was my all-time favorite performance outside of The Hanover Theatre. The vibrancy of gospel infused into the performance and the crowd; it was the most fun group of people I have ever been around. Every single person was up on their feet and clapping along. One thing that people often think is “I’m not sure, this seems like a formal venue. It seems like a very formal type of event.” We are here to say it is accessible and fun, and I suspect this is going to be a fantastic and enthusiastic crowd.
Adrien: Another thing for audience members and listeners to watch for, we have Trey scheduled to come back some time next spring to do some outreach activities. We want him to come back and do a series of workshops. We have the Worcester Chorus under Music Worcester, adult vocational singers who might be interested doing a workshop with this type of leader.