Penticton’s Harris a delight in one-woman act

Review of Mia Harris's Biography of a Voice that was performed in Penticton last week.

Mia Harris performs a song in the opening of Biography of a Voice at the Cannery Stage recently. The show is described as a journey of self discovery and transformation in which the mezzo soprano stretched the boundaries of classical voice.

Mia Harris performs a song in the opening of Biography of a Voice at the Cannery Stage recently. The show is described as a journey of self discovery and transformation in which the mezzo soprano stretched the boundaries of classical voice.

A beautiful  mezzo soprano voice, a red belt, two spectacular hats. With her vocal talent, gentle humour, creative movements, a few costumes and minimal props, Mia Harris delighted the audience at the March 13 performance of her one-woman Biography of a Voice.

The story is both contemporary and timeless. Harris describes it as “a journey of self-discovery, transformation, and ultimately of self-acceptance.”

Young people in every era and perhaps especially today wonder what path to follow after education. They hear many calls, have many options. People of all ages experience struggles, loss of inspiration or purpose and a call for change. Thus, one of the basic plots in stories — rebirth.

This performance is for everyone. There are three great scenes and no bad ones. The middle portion of the show will evolve as performances develop in the future.

The opening scene grabs attention with a tight light on a disembodied  face, repeating in a beautiful voice an operatic mournful note. We know that something is wrong and the sound captures us. We are all ears. Then we see more of the four stage areas.

Scene 1 is very strong as Harris uses that red belt with basic black, and facial expressions with voice to show the rigours of all the guidelines in her opera training.

We begin to laugh with her. And follow gladly across the stage as she deftly changes to a mock opera skirt and shawl. Then begins the comic epic struggle to tame a bejewelled headdress with a life of its own. An inspired prop. On a round riser atop a surrounding pile of her college books and papers, Harris manages to sing two arias (from Gounod’s Faust and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice)  with the infamous wardrobe and headgear malfunctions. Then her fall to the floor from this height.

In the next scene, a good lighting effect shows her torn between the greener pastures of riches and fame and the sacrifices and perhaps unhappiness involved.

Harris soon discards a nondescript workaday costume and  depends on varied body movements to show the intense struggle and ongoing struggle and indecision. She uses the floor level well, crawling until finally catching sight of a whimsical and large chapeau, set on a rock, surrounded by feathers and very attractive to her and to us. Discovering and donning  this  fascinating  hat  transforms Harris. Her joy is ours too.

Her early mournful  notes become the full-hearted voice of  lively and happy artist in full light. She sings the lovely Ho’oponopomo  Prayer (an ancient Hawai’ian  prayer) of love, forgiveness and gratitude.

As Harris adds the many scattered feathers to peek out of one side of her hair, we imagine all her past triumphs. But the one feather that tickles us the most is the final one which she adds to the other side of her hair, alone.  This current successful show, a feather in her cap indeed.

In her generous and informative question and answer period, we learned that the performance will continue to evolve through workshops and future performances, perhaps at Fringe Festivals.

I hope many people will be able to see this creative, inspiring, and entertaining show. Thanks to Harris and all her talented collaborators from the lively Penticton music-art-theatre firmament.

Josephine Patterson is a theatre director and retired teacher living in Penticton.

Just Posted

James Miller, the managing editor at the Penticton Herald, has been voted in for Jake Kimberley’s vacated council seat. (Submitted)
James Miller elected as Penticton city councillor

Penticton also voted yes to allowing up to 25 years for a Skaha Marina contract

The Eyes of the Tigers on the 2021 Beer Run on June 19. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Beer Runners take trip around local beaches and brews

Over 160 people signed up to come back after the 2020 run was cancelled

There was high voter turnout for the first of three advance voting days for the Penticton city by-election.
Penticton city by-election general voting day is today, June 19

737 voters on June 9 in comparison to 2018 general election, which had 1,001 on first day

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 Penticton-area men charged with Kamloops brothers’ double homicide

Brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May in Naramata

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read