Kids will laugh and applaud the crazy antics of Juno award-winning children’s musician Al Simmons at Centrepointe Theatres on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2018. And Simmons encourages his audience to participate.
“This isn’t TV, it’s a live show. I want the crowd to be vocal,” says Simmons. “It’s all part of the fun.”
After the show, he often asks children what their favourite funny part was. A child once surprised him by asking what Al’s favourite part was. His answer? The audience.
“Watching the audience reaction is the best part of my job,” says Simmons. “For me, it’s like I’m unwrapping presents: ‘What’s in this one? Wow!’ It’s a total surprise each time. I live for it.”
Simmons and his siblings grew up in a fun household. His father was a fan of the Vaudeville acts in the 1920s and ‘30s. He routinely performed pratfalls and visual comedy for his children, much to their delight.
So when Simmons started his career as an entertainer, the idea of visual comedy and a Vaudeville style seemed natural. “My father was always being goofy,” says Simmons, “but I had no idea what he was doing was called Vaudeville until I saw videos of Vaudeville’s Mozart of Mayhem: Spike Jones. He was a kindred spirit.”
Simmons had no formal training, but he had a knack for storytelling and getting a laugh. “I was working as a clerk at Manitoba Hydro. Every morning I’d have a different comedy routine for the engineers. They encouraged me.
“Then one day I just quit my day job and overnight, I became an unemployed entertainer.”
Luckily for Simmons, Winnipeg was a great place to start a career as a family entertainer. With his wacky and unique act, Simmons became a favourite at clubs and festivals. “The entire community was really supportive and gave me the opportunity to constantly try new things.”
Simmons says the dilemma he has now, after almost 50 years in the business and a shed full of bizarre gadgets and wild costumes, is which mechanical hats and musical contraptions to choose. His Centrepointe Theatres performance will surely be eccentric, witty and most of all, fun.
“I want to unleash a child’s creativity: be inventive, play any musical instrument, or even build your own wacky ones.”
Al Simmons performs at Centrepointe Theatres on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. Visit www.centrepointetheatres.com for ticket information.