Route 66: an American Guitar Trek – 2010 Toronto Fringe Review

By Mira Saraf

If you like road trips, but hate to drive you can take a musical approach to adventure in Route 66: an American Guitar Trek. The famous highway, the inspiration for a song of the same name is the topic of this mostly musical piece.

I arrived at the Free Times Café on College Street a few minutes before the 7pm start time. As the lady led me inside she asked if I would like a drink (they didn’t serve anything during the performance) and told me he was waiting for me to start.

As I entered the cool blast of air conditioning gave me slight relief from the sticky heat outside. I asked for a glass of water slightly embarrassed that the performer and audience had to wait for me. When I entered the back room I realized that the “audience” was two other women and each nursing pint glasses, and I.

Colin Godbout sat atop a small stage framed by red curtains with different shots of highway and areas along the highway clipped with colourful clothespins around with the entire set framed by red Christmas lights. The tablecloths were checkered and solid blue (alternating) the walls a darker shade of the same colour which added to the rather dim, intimate ambience of the room.

The performance was more of a concert than theatre. Godbout started singing and playing, starting with none other than Route 66 the song. As he strummed his guitar and it became clearer that this was more like live performance, I suddenly regretted not getting that beer.

His voice was silky smooth combined with expert strumming of guitar as he transitioned into songs such as California Dreamin’ and more instrumental tunes. He also sang a little Bruce Springsteen, and changes the flavor with Flamenco (as we approach New Mexico). Every so often (but not between each song) he paused to ask us if we know a song or tell us about the next transition.

I found myself wishing I’d looked up the highway to see where it passes through – although I do have a vague understanding of where it runs. But if you enjoy live music it may not matter to learn the rhyme or reason behind his song choices, you could just sit back and enjoy the music.

My only complaint, although a more avid guitar fan may not agree, is that the instrumental parts dragged on a bit. But I think it’s because I came ready to review theatre and his sound was so soothing it made me drowsy. He was also incredibly into the music, which was really inspiring.

At the end of the show he asked for feedback and if we felt he should keep the more popular songs. I personally enjoyed having those included as it widened the appeal of his performance. As long as you treat it like a concert or a night of live music at your neighbourhood bar, it’s a perfect way to spend an hour on a warm summer evening.

Details

Route 66: an American Trek plays at Free Times Cafe
– It plays at 7pm until July 11
– All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows