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'So, how's it been?' at Here for Now Theatre's New Works Festival in Stratford, Ontario

Here for Now Theatre Festival, Stratford Ontario

Courtesy of Here for Now

Joe Szekeres

Billed on the Here for Now website as a song cycle, this world premiere musical celebration of ‘So, how’s it been?’ put a big ol’ beaming grin on my face from ear to ear. It was sheer heaven to listen to five truly gifted artists who reveal their good nature and good humour (albeit a deliciously wicked one at that when I heard the song about the Canada geese), and who were just thankful and grateful to perform once again in front of a live audience.

And I was elated to close my eyes periodically and to listen to music once more.

At the beginning of the show we were told that Liza Balkan, Stratford resident and theatre artist, in summer 2020, first began interviewing people who live and work in the town asking how they were doing and how they were coping through these challenging last eighteen months of the worldwide pandemic. Liza had spoken with so many people in Stratford from business owners to employees, artists, nurses, retirees, actors, parents, kids, farmers and heard so many stories. Many of these songs and anecdotes stemmed from her multiple conversations spent with a cross selection of many from all walks of life in the town.

With music composed by Paul Shilton (and an additional song or two by Katherine Wheatley and Bruce Horak), Barbara Fulton, Evangelia Kambites, Marcus Nance and Trevor Patt embraced and led me on a musical journey in songs and stories of much needed laughter and of welling tears as tales were shared on how everyone coped in Stratford. I don’t want to spoil the surprises for future audiences as they must hear and listen for themselves as that would be unfair to destroy the magical beauty of storytelling by these five inspiring performers.

All I will say is everyone has their moment to shine in this production. Yes, this does sound like a tired and overused cliché, but it is the truth. I am so pleased and appreciative to have attended this marvelous opening.

Final Comments: A joyous and rapturous afternoon or evening of entertainment which allowed me to enter so many lives in Stratford in such a short time through song and story.

Wonderful and glorious.

Please get tickets for this.

Photo of the cast taken from the Here for Now Facebook page. (L-R: Barbara Fulton, Evangelia Kambites, Paul Shilton, Trevor Patt, Marcus Nance.)

‘So, how’s it been?’ a song cycle co-created by writer/director Liza Balkan and composer/musical director Paul Shilton (with an additional song or two by Katherine Wheatley and Bruce Horak).
Performers: Barbara Fulton, Evangelia Kambites, Marcus Nance and Trevor Patt.
Production runs to September 5 outdoors at the Bruce Hotel, 89 Parkview Drive, Stratford, Ontario.
For further information and to purchase tickets online, please visit

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