Justin Stadnyk: Quadruple Threat.

I am continually humbled (and by times slightly intimidated) by the caliber and array of talent in the Toronto theatre community. It is truly thanks to people like Jenni Burke and the people at Statler’s Piano Lounge who provide the space for some of Toronto’s most talented young performers to reach out to their audience and, in many cases, introduce themselves through Cabaret. At Curtains Down (every Monday night at 8:30pm at Statler’s) hosts Jenni Burke and Michael Barber have created a cozy and warm environment of support and encouragement whose light has spilled over into the Cabarets for individual artists as well.
Often I am amazed at (and again, a little intimidated by) the multitudes of different talents and skills that seem to overflow from the young performers I meet so often. Justin Stadnyk, whose Cabaret Journey I saw last night (February 10th, 2009) at Statler’s, is a perfect example. Justin, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, is a graduate of Sheridan College, and was most recently seen at the Shaw Festival in Wonderful Town and in A Little Night Music (Henrik), and in the much-acclaimed Ross Petty Pantomime Cinderella at the Elgin Theatre. It’s not just that Justin is a proficient actor, an incredible dancer, and a beautiful singer but he also plays the piano, the guitar, and writes his own songs! And they are lovely.
Last night the audience at Statler’s was treated to twelve Justin Stadnyk originals, some of which were receiving their debut performance- some of which still remain untitled. For a “work-in-progress,” or more appropriately, as part of a journey of growth and learning, the show was incredibly impressive. Justin sat at the piano and played all his songs, with the exception of two which were played on the guitar, speaking minimally, but warmly and exuding an aura of modest professionalism and a sense of humor.
It’s nearly impossible for me to do justice to Justin’s music with words, and it’s the music, I think, that is the driving force behind his songs. The piano melodies are gorgeous- it’s unbelievable to think that he’s able to create something that sounds so lovely and so perfect, and that he can make it look so simple! The music is a perfect match for Justin’s gorgeous voice which soars sweetly and frequently. He also infuses each song with honest emotion and his intrinsic charm, which adds extra resonance.
My highlights of the evening are: “Timing/Heart Song,” a lovely song Justin wrote a week ago. “You are the One,” which makes me want to burrow inside of its soothing loveliness and stay there. “And I Go,” reads like poetry and shows off Justin’s incredible vocal range. The title song “Journey” begs to played on the radio. However, my favourite song, and I suspect I’m not alone in this, is the Untitled “Well… anyway” song. I found it instantly captivating and very poignant. I’m looking forward to hearing it again!
Justin Stadnyk is a bundle of talent. I have no doubt that as time progresses you will see him onstage in theatres across this country (and most likely beyond!). You will see his name repeatedly in newspapers and on theatre blogs like this one. He will be asked to do benefits and fundraisers and multitudes of his own cabarets. He is a performer bursting with potential and prospect and I can’t wait to see what’s next on the journey. Keep your eyes peeled. He’s one to watch!

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