Singer Robert Larrabee brings ‘legends tribute’ to City

Singer Robert Larrabee brings his show ‘An Evening With the Legends’ to the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion Feb. 13th-14th.

Larrabee has been a professional entertainer for more than 25 years, and performed as a multiple full costume, audience interactive, tribute artist with his show ‘An Evening With The Legends.’

He does more than 50 impersonations through the course of the performance. He’s also released a new CD Middle of Something, which is available on iTunes.

Larrabee laughs as he recalls his boyhood when his urge to entertain began to surface.

“It wasn’t perceived as a gift back then – more of an annoyance,” he laughs, remembering how teachers often felt about his antics. “You put me in a classroom, and for some reason I felt like it was an audience.”

As the years passed, that penchant to perform only grew stronger.

“I was really into Elvis back then,” he explains, adding when he hit the stage and sang an Elvis song, there was an undeniable response. “I knew that this might be a career.”

He was approached and asked if he had considered doing this professionally, and that’s how it all started. Larrabee hit the road with a band and performed Elvis tunes from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. “This was in 1984, so Elvis hadn’t been gone too long at that point. It was a real specialty niche thing at the time – there weren’t 30,000 ‘Elvis guys’ running around like there is now.”

The response was amazing. “People showed up in droves to see that show. It was really quite special.” Later on, a show called ‘Elvis, Elvis, Elvis’ hired him and he traveled overseas with them.

He later ventured into Celebrations Dinner Theatre, and found he had a knack for acting and musical theatre. “I thought, why not write a show that’s got the elements of this audience interaction and include characters and used piped music?”

Hence ‘An Evening With the Legends’ was born. The legends run the gamut from Roy Orbison, Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Tom Jones and Sammy Davis Jr. to Rod Stewart, Buddy Holly and Neil Diamond.

The uniqueness of the show wasn’t lost on audiences – folks would often tell him they weren’t expecting the comic elements to be woven into the performance.

“That spurred me on to include more characters and write more shtick, and make it more and more creative,” he said. “It ended up being my tribute to the artists instead of a full-blown impersonation. It gave me more room to move, and to make it more entertaining.”

Larrabee points to the warm feelings of nostalgia his show also stirs up.

“It’s part of someone’s life. Someone may have gotten married when one of these songs was playing, someone had their first kiss when one of these songs was playing. The people that come out and support the show, they wax nostalgic about the songs because these were moments in their lives.”

Meanwhile, his own creative journey continues to take shape – and have an influence – in other ways as well. This past summer, he was contacted about donating time for the Wounded Warrior fundraiser in Slave Lake.

“When I arrived in my minivan I drove past hundreds of people lining the roads and streets cheering for these soldiers, I witnessed men and woman with prosthetic limbs jumping out of planes, putting up tents, and stages, servicemen and woman,” he said. “I was struck with a profound sense that I really didn’t have a clue what service work was.”

He stayed up most of the night writing a song about hope and survival as he felt that was what was needed.

The next day he sang the song Warrior Will Survive.

“Now the tune is in Nashville and my producer Dave Bechtel has it almost done. So to say I was blown away with my trip to Slave Lake is an understatement, the tune will be done next week and it is beautiful we have a marching snare, bagpipes, bugles playing Taps and The Last Stand.”

Meanwhile, he’s planning on doing as many shows as he can.

“I’m contacting all the Legions and asking if they will host my show, anyone else that has a venue and a desire to give back to these Warriors is welcome to host my show, too.

“I will be also performing some of my own music, and ending the show with the new song Warrior Will Survive which will be downloadable on iTunes in the next few weeks, again with a portion benefiting Wounded Warriors.”

For more information about his Red Deer appearance, call 403-342-0035.