Four Out of Five Stars - Edmonton Journal

Precisely 259 years after his death, Baroque composer George Frideric Handel is zapped back to life by God, and, His Almightiness has some requests.

Show tune requests, that is.

So, here’s Handel (Edmonton singer and voice teacher Ron Long) — creator of The Messiah, composer for British royalty — clad in his embroidered jacket, powdered wig and short pants, standing at the altar in Holy Trinity Anglican Church, leafing through the Lord’s playlist.

At first, it appear’s Long’s — er, God’s song selection is a device to teach us more about Handel’s life, until recurrent tunes about identity and belonging become awfully specific.

Long covers Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Married Today,” “Not My Father’s Son” from Kinky Boots, and “Gay or European?” from Legally Blonde, The Musical. Also, “Better with a Man,” from A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

With not-so-subtle encouragement from the Lord in the form of thunder and lightning, Handel ultimately confronts more recent speculation about his sexual orientation.

Accompanied by pianist and organist Julia Davis, Long ultimately emboldens Handel to embrace his identity.

“I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses,” Long intones from the musical La Cage Aux Folles.

It’s a particularly powerful sound to behold soaring across the cavernous church sanctuary.

Musical theatre fans will particularly enjoy this show. Bonus: you don’t even have to know about, or appreciate, classical music to enjoy the journey.

— Janet French