Review of Wilderness Entertainment Series March 4, 2024 Event, Red Lake District HS

Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre presents Mix Tapes from my Mom

written & performed by Cory Wojcik.  Featuring Josh Bellan on guitar and vocals, Christy Taronno on keyboard and vocals.  Directed by Trish Cooper.

by Marilyn Duncalfe

If you are of a certain vintage, you quite possibly have a mix tape or two squirreled away in your cache of lifelong treasures.  But 257?  Not likely.  But you are not Cory Wojcik’s mother.  This trove of a musical legacy serves as the talisman for Winnipeg actor, director, writer and teacher Cory Wojcik to cathartically bring to life the preposterous symmetry of the “best worst day of his life”.

In this concert cum show, the stage set truly sets the stage.  While there was no sunburst clock in evidence, it can be confirmed that the venerable wall panelling, coffee table and velvet painting featured in many childhoods were in evidence.  Additionally,  a slide carousel & projector were featured and milk crates of cassette tapes.  Lots and lots of tapes.A trippy time vortex indeed.

Amongst this backdrop, Wocjik shares the poignant true story of events that transpired within his own family.  Without giving too much away, highly-relatable vignettes of the triumphs and sorrows of life unfold in a narrative interspersed with musical gems from such classic mix tapes as “Tunes to Veg By” and “Tunes from Saskatoony”.  The Beatles, The Cars, Nancy Sinatra, the Doobie Brothers as well as a few original tracks were well-executed by the three highly capable musicians.

We have all experienced loss, sorrow, as well as achingly-beautiful experiences that serve to swat away the pain.  The wheel of life is ever thus.   Set in the context of one roiling family, the gritty streets of Winnipeg and two Manitoba hospitals, Mix Tapes from My Mom reminds us that the highs and lows of life are both essential and eternal.  And as the close-out, uplifting Trooper song reminds us, “We’re Here for a Good Time (Not a long Time)”.