A woman cuddling up to a large puppet, in a mock romantic gesture,as the two sing

Feb 25: The Lip Sync is back

CKTZ’s Lip Sync returns to the stage of Mansons Hall at 8 PM on Saturday, February 25. 

 “Over the last three years I’ve heard from people who want it back: ‘So when are you doing a lip sync?’ We haven’t been able to do it until now,” explained Howie Roman.

“It is without a doubt, one of the highlights that I would point to in my time on Cortes. I just love it when  that many people get involved in something. It’s about 30 nowadays, performers and crew.” 

Howie Roman broadcasting his show ‘Anything Goes’ at the station of CKTZ, just prior to this interview – Photo by Roy L Hales

Cortes Currents: How many Lip Syncs have they been?  

Howie Roman: “We lost track, but between the Lip Syncs, the three Cabaret nights we did, and throw in a handful of variety nights that Rick and I did in Gorge Hall back in the  late eighties, early nineties — with all those, it’s over 30,  in the last 35 years.” 

“The start of Rick emceeing was actually a two night variety night to raise money for the Gorge Hall floor. We were going to put in the Whaletown Community Club floor at cost and we were $3,000 short. We had these  two nights of a variety show at a time when there was probably 600-650 people on Cortes.” 

“Over 70 people participated in that in some way or another.  The first night it was standing room only.  It was a great night, way too long, but a great night. I was stage managing and I looked out from behind the curtains and saw where people were sitting.  There’s so-and-so and there’s so-and-so. The next night, the hall was equally as packed and the same people were there. It was that good!”

“We raised more than we needed  and that’s why the Gorge Hall now has a  35  year old maple floor. There was a 50 year old fir floor in it that was dangerous. It was giving up six inch splinters.”

Poster from CKTZ’s first Lip Sync (2009) – courtesy CKTZ
One of the acts in 2009 – courtesy CKTZ

“The first lip sync was 2009 when we were still in what is now the post office in Mansons Hall. I was doing my show when Diane Brussel came in and said, ‘I saw this great fundraiser on Lasqueti or somewhere.’” 

“I said, ‘oh yeah, what’s that?’”

 “She said, ‘it’s a lip sync show.’” 

“And I immediately thought of air guitar, karaoke, and I just went, ‘Ah, that’s crazy.’” 

“I didn’t actually participate in the first one.  Bernice and I were down in Victoria and got home in time to see it. And it was a terrific show. Diane and Victoria Smith pulled it together.”

“Victoria directed as much as you direct any of these shows, the first five or six. Then when she got ill,  it fell to me and I resented it for the next five or six until we got a handful of performers that I can basically count on.” 

“One big piece of that is Rick. He’s so funny. He has such a twisted take on Cortes life. Something that the audience doesn’t know that I know,  is he goes out on stage with his clipboard that’ll have two or three sentences on it, and the rest is just ad-libbed.”

“There has been some really fine, fine acts over the years. Deanne once sang a love song in Italian to a frog puppet that she was cuddling in her arms. It was one of the most emotional acts we’ve ever had. There was a Cirque du Soleil thing that Namchi Bazar, Corrin and a few other people did. Corrin climbed  a piece of cloth up to the ceiling of the Manson’s Hall. At the end Namchi spread her arms open. Her dress had wings, and she was this angel. She was pregnant at the time, so she was this pregnant angel.” 

“Lip Sync is a family show. It spans all age groups and most circles on the island have at some time or another participated. On the night of the show, the 30 little kids at the foot of the stage looking up with these big eyes: that’s so Cortes!”

“One of the interesting things about the lip sync is we’ve always had one or two families that get into it with kids and they’ll come up with three acts.”

“One of the things that I didn’t learn until I started on the radio is that if you do it, if you go out on stage or you’re talking to a microphone, as much as I have, it becomes ‘no big deal.’  So to get kids at an early age to get out on stage and get the reaction that they always get … one of the wonderful things is if a kid starts to drag, the audience starts clapping along and brings that kid back.”

“I’m 72. We’re all getting older. The crowd that does the Lip Sync is all in their seventies now. It’s going to either end, or become some other version of it sometime in the next few years. If the Lip Syncs do continue past our age group, it’s going to change and that’s fine.”

“I’ve lived on the island for over 50 years, and one of the things  I’ve seen is that there have been many different theatrical  events . Way back when, there was the Cortes Drama Society (or Theatre Society) and there was some great plays in the late seventies. There was an ‘Alice in Wonderland, there was a ‘Rapunzel.’ Bernice probably had about four feet of hair, so she became Rapunzel. There’s always been the odd variety nights. LInnaea had their kids shows that were off the charts and then the Lip Syncs.”

“There’s often a lull between those kind of events, but something will come up. Performers need to perform. For now, we still have the Lip Sync.”

“An important part of what I want from you, emphasize that we really need acts. We’re coming back after three years. I want this to be  a bang up show. We’re still four or five weeks out ,and at the moment I know of three acts. They’re all regulars, people that have done it numerous times. I don’t even have to worry about them and their acts are going to be great. There’s always been families and there is a family on that list of three.” 

“We need about 12 to 15 more acts, which is a big number. If on Friday, February 24th, at the dress rehearsal, we have three acts — then we’re in trouble and the show is being canceled.” 

“Come on folks.” 

Cortes Currents: Isn’t that the norm, that you don’t have enough acts until rehearsal night?

Howie Roman: “Yeah, that is the norm, but I usually have eight acts by the time we get there. I’m not panicking. There are other people involved who are very upset that we only have three, but it’s too early to panic.  We’ve never canceled a Lip Sync. There have been occasions where Rick or I were calling people on Friday night, ‘Can you throw anything together?’  We postponed one because we had eight acts on Friday night, but it snowed that night. So Rick came over the next morning for coffee and before he got in the house, I was yelling, “It’s postponed to next week.’ Next week we did the show and we had 21 acts.” 

“The Lip Sync is happening February 25th. The doors will open at 7:00 and the show starts around 8:00. It’s $15 at the door. Children under 12 are free. We will negotiate a family rate with you if somebody needs it, feels they want it, then we’ll figure out a way to get your family in.” 

I guess the other thing I can put out here is if you have a child in the show, one adult gets in free with that child and of course if that child has siblings in the same age group and under 12 are free.

 We try to bring in everybody.

Top image: Screenshot of Cortes Island’s most famous off and on again romance: Meinsje and Charlez performing – from 2016 Winter Lip Sync video

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