Fusion 2013: Oh what a night!

WRITTEN by Kathy Mercure

Full disclosure, this is the third year I’ve been the promotional writer for Matt LeBlanc FUSION, so I will admit I’m biased.

But let me also say that I am a self-diagnosed snob, and I can’t gush about something unless I really mean it.

But I am going to gush here people.

When Matt first came to me early in the year to talk about the 2013 show, I was floored by what he was planning to do “A big show,” he said, “a big show with a story. And I’m going to do it at Casino New Brunswick.”

I’ve said before that Matt LeBlanc pushes the boundaries of his art — always. But this time he literally blew out the boundaries by melding ART, STORY, & PERFORMANCE.

On September 14th I walked into the conference entrance of Casino New Brunswick, and was immediately taken into Matt’s world of art: chaotic, dramatic, bold and beautiful. The paintings were beautifully displayed, “How could he find the time to paint all this AND be responsible for over 5 hours of entertainment?” I wondered to myself. That was actually my second thought. My first was, “Oy, am I ever underdressed!” The guests were dressed for a gala and they were a beautiful backdrop for his paintings. The gorgeous purple piece drew me like a magnet. Sigh… maybe one day.

My dates for the night were my friend Jocelyne Saulnier from
Joce Creative who is the one who took Matt's vision and created the beautiful promotional material for FUSION 2013, and her friend Suzanne. After making a couple of sweeps by the beautiful paintings and the beautiful people, noshing on some tasty appetizers and wine, we were able to enter the darkened theatre. After the din of the sound of over 800 voices, the serene blue and the chirping birds and running water created a sense of calm and tranquility.

We found our table, got a good view of the stage and chatted between ourselves and our tablemates while we waited for the show to begin.

The story begins

When MC, Adam Gould, finally came on stage to start the show, I think we really began to understand how special the night was going to be. Matt worked with Chris Simpson from Attix Visual Media to create some really excellent videos, including the first that showed Matt demonstrating his craft in high speed.

The premise of the story was this:
Matt’s inspiration for FUSION 2013 was a single drop of water.
She is called “Aliyah” (meaning ascending in Hebrew).

For the longest time Aliyah’s been fighting the elements trying
to find her place in this world.

Aliyah’s heard of rivers so big and strong, they have the power
to move mountains.

She’s not sure if they exist yet, but she’s on a quest to discover
the truth for herself.

Aliyah also has a dream.

By the time her journey is over, Aliyah wants her contribution
to have mattered.

She wants her life to be remembered as a beautiful piece of art.
Some say that, “Life is a piece of art, but only a few choose
to hold their own brush”… so she does… she’s holding on to her
brush allowing each stroke to be her own.

And then the show began.

An epic battle

I knew some of what to expect, and I knew that Matt was planning an epic battle between himself, the painter, and Aliyah the single drop of water, but I didn’t know how dramatic it could be. Honestly, he created a gorgeous painting in I would say, less than five minutes, people! — while battling Aliyah, played by principal dancer, Robyn Esson, who did a beautiful job of holding the canvas like her shield. Wow, people were on their feet in the first minutes of the show!

And as the story continued, the ethereal Aliyah was joined on stage by other water drops — local dancers that were hand picked by choreographer Grace Caines, wearing costumes created by fashion designer Rebecca McKenzie of Lux Industries (many actually painted by LeBlanc) to merge in ballet, hip-hop and other dance styles into bigger bodies of water.

Music that soothes the soul and
breaks your heart (just a little)

What can I say, except that the music was every bit as beautiful as the water droplets, the butterflies and Aliyah? Christine Campbell, Rémi Boudreau, Josiane Comeau, Jacques Comeau, Cameron Molloy and a group of seven percussionists were beyond expectation and brought the audience to a hush as we listened, but rising to a crescendo of applause, bravos and standing ovations. It was truly, truly amazing and the talent that lives in this small province continuously surprises and delights me!

Mado’s Gift

So much of Matt’s inspiration for his art is in memory of the sister he never met, Madeleine. Cancer robbed Matt of the opportunity to meet his oldest sister and made him want to be someone better, someone who helps others, especially children.

So, he focusses his attention and energy to helping children with life threatening diseases by raising funds for gifts for the children and their families in a foundation he began in 2012. There is nothing like putting a smile on the face of a child and that’s what Mado’s Gift does. Paintings by children in his art program, as well as the painting Matt created on stage, were available for purchase and silent auction and I'm happy to report that over $4,000 was raised during FUSION.

The grand finale

At the end of her epic journey, Aliyah finally realizes her dream, and becomes a part of a beautiful painting. Literally. Matt had told me that he wanted Aliyah to somehow come out of a painting, and I remember being just a wee bit disappointed when she didn’t come out of the painting that was on stage throughout the show at stage left. Of course, she couldn’t as the painting was also a working waterfall. So imagine my surprise when at the end all the dancers and players came onto the stage, and a white curtain that I had wondered about throughout the evening, was dropped and Aliyah walked out of the painting that had to be 20 feet high, wearing a 10-foot Rebecca McKenzie creation of draping fabric. Amazing! It was beautifully sparkly and dramatically stunning. I was gobsmacked and on my feet with the rest of the audience!

And then Matt said a few words… I think he was just so relieved it was over and everything had gone well that we could feel the emotion bubbling under the surface. It was simple, and classy — kind of like the man himself.

So, was I impressed by Matt LeBlanc’s FUSION 2013? Impressed can’t even begin to say it. I was entertained, entranced, sometimes moved to tears, other times to crazy applause (oh how Joce and I wished we could whistle like Suzanne!). We will talk about it for weeks to come, I’m sure.

And, although I couldn’t stay, I heard the after party with Big Bad Marty Band was a rousing success too.  Well done everyone. Rest well and get ready for 2014! Matt tells me he's already planning his next show to again take place in mid-September.

Kathy Mercure


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