Candace’s triumphal return
For the past eight years, Candace Furbert has been on a musical journey.
This weekend, she is inviting everyone to come along.
The 27-year-old’s show, Memoirs of the Entertainer, is a compilation of the musicals she has been involved with since she decided to pursue a stage career in 2010.
Audiences will be treated to songs from her current gig on London’s West End Tina: The Musical, where she covers for the character Alline and members of the ensemble, as well as tunes from The Book of Mormon, Shrek, Dream Girls and The Color Purple.
“It is exciting and overwhelming,” she said. “This is bigger than me and bigger than all of us, but I have so much love for it because it’s my life.
“I have been in London about six years. It is a huge sacrifice to be away from home in that industry and environment. You can’t do it unless you love it.”
A six-month stint with Up with People started it all.
“When I was a kid I loved to sing, but I wanted to be a cosmetologist,” Ms Furbert said, adding that her time with the performance tour group made her feel like she was “on the Disney Channel or Glee [the hit musical comedy-drama that aired on the Fox Network]. I really felt like this was for me”.
Because of that, she’s invited Up With People alumni and people about to tour with the group to join her show and she will sing a song from her time there, One Person.
Also on the programme is a number from United Dance Productions, where she studied ballet, jazz, tap and hip hop as a teenager. “I hated ballet,” she said. “I used to cry. It was too much structure. I was the kind of kid who bounced off the walls.
“But, I go into auditions sometimes and they’ll say, ‘OK, go into second position.’ I only know what that is because of ballet.”
She still gets a little emotional talking about the lack of performance opportunities available to her as a child in Bermuda.
“I found there wasn’t much — in my time — for me,” she said. “I was very much interested at that age.”
As such, she has invited a number of young people to perform in Memoirs of the Entertainer including her cousin Shardae Lee, 15, and Lynae Smith-DeRoza, 5.
“She’s sung at church, but this will be her first time on stage,” Ms Furbert said of Lynae.
Ms Furbert will also tell the audience about her childhood battles with illness. At age seven, doctors discovered a blood clot and a tangle of abnormal blood vessels in her brain. It was not until five years later that she had surgery, after which she had to relearn how to walk and talk.
Related medical problems kept her out of school for a year-and-a-half. Singing helped her get through the hard times.
“I couldn’t talk or walk,” she said. “I still have partial deafness in my left ear. To see what I am doing now, I’m proud of myself.”
“Loads of people” had long urged her family to put on a show, Ms Furbert said.
Singer Sheila Smith, who opened The Manhattan Transfer’s performance with the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts in January, is a cousin, as is Adrian Jones, half of the gospel duo Last Call.
She and her mother started talking seriously about a show last year. Olive Furbert said she was tired of hearing people say: “Well don’t worry, Candace will be on Broadway soon.”
“I try to explain to people that the West End is [London’s] equivalent of Broadway,” she said. “She has already arrived.”
Added her daughter: “I got to a point where I wanted to give the people an idea of what I do.”
Once done, she’ll return to the Aldwych Theatre and Tina: The Musical, which has received the legendary singer’s blessing.
“I’ve met Tina Turner,” Ms Furbert said. “She is incredible.
“She has come to see the cast two or three times now. She had a lot of input with her story. She is a very strong woman.”
•Memoirs of the Entertainer, organised by PinkSand Entertainment and hosted by N’tertainment, runs tonight and tomorrow at 7pm at Ruth Seaton James Auditorium. General admission is $50; patron tickets are $100. Tickets are available at www.bdatix.bm. Part proceeds will go to Up With People
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