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Susan Gilmour shines in I Dreamed A Dream at Imperial

By Alex Robson
For The Observer

Susan Gilmour took to the Imperial Theatre stage in Sarnia on Friday and brought the house down. Seven hundred ticket holders at Starbright's sold-out performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" showed their enthusiasm with bursts of spontaneous applause, cheers and whistles — song after glorious song.

Gilmour warmly escorted her audience on her life journey: from Alberta — doing radio-jingles and singing in a country band to New York City as an aspiring "Julie Andrews-like" hopeful, then onto the world's finest musical theatre stages in starring roles, pausing along the way to tell of her close relationship with her family.

She spoke fondly of her father, who always supported her to "Dream her Dream." A dentist, he was skilled at fashioning teeth in gold, and created for her a miniature gold guitar pendant as a sign of his unfailing encouragement to follow her dreams. Gilmour brought happy tears to many eyes as she paid tribute to her mother reaching out to her on the other side of this life with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

In songs and words, she shared personal stories of: relationships, loves, loss, fond memories, times of challenge, successes and failures, youth and aging – and in doing so brought the audience close to her heart warmly and allowed them to travel along on their own life's journeys. In this way, she created true theatrical magic by building a bond between entertainer and the audience that was palpable and joyous.

Susan Gilmour's artistry was highlighted from the first note to the last. Her talents run wide and deep: from strong, witty, sexy, and alluring to light, delicate, intimate and genuine.

She performed many of her former favourite roles and others she still hopes to perform — transitioning easily between Evita's Eva Perón to Les Misérables' Fantine, from Hello Dolly's Dolly Levi to Gyspy's Mama Rose, from Cat's Grizabella to Oliver's Nancy.

Gilmour was brilliantly accompanied at the grand piano by Starbright Musical Director Mark Payne, who also led the Starbright Band.

As the show ended with a stirring rendition of "Ordinary Miracles", the audience rose for a long, thundering standing ovation - thanking her for an evening of entertainment that was extraordinary." Do yourself a favour — see this amazing musical cabaret tour-de-force.

The one remaining scheduled performance of the Starbright production "I Dreamed a Dream" is on Saturday, Aug. 14th at 2:00 p.m. For tickets visit www.starbright.ca or phone the Imperial Theatre's Box Office at 519-344-7469.