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Clarke takes audiences through all walks of his life in The Journey

Solo show brings performer’s multiple talents to the forefront
Not even background aircraft can distract Michael Clarke from performing his best. (Photo submitted)

Michael Clarke has gone solo before and done multiple parts in the same production so this isn’t necessarily anything new for him. But putting himself out there in The Journey is both a reflection of his own life and the current state of theatre today as the industry attempts to slowly rebound from the implications of the pandemic with smaller casts.

The Journey, Clarke’s second solo theatre concert, runs from March 17-April 3 at the Chemainus Theatre.

“It’s not anything new that I’m doing where the performer inhabits all the characters,” said Clarke, who has called Crofton his home base for the last few years.

Clarke’s journey is a biographical concert, playing on his talents as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with music and storytelling. The stories are uplifting and focus on his journey immigrating to Canada, growing up in Toronto, moving to Vancouver Island and discovering his passion for music and performing.

Clarke arrived from Toronto to perform in Rock Legends and Kim’s Convenience where he played several roles at the Chemainus Theatre Festival. He decided to stay put and has enjoyed life on Vancouver Island ever since.

Clarke indicated The Journey is a solo theatre concert based on his life, spanning five decades.

“It tells my story of immigrating alone from Jamaica to Canada at five, learning to play football and the saxophone at 12, singing gospel at 15 before being introduced to theatre at 19,” he explained. “Performing the story I get to bring to life the people I met along the way, share the pivotal experiences that shaped my character and perform the music that I was inspired to write.”

While writing the show, Clarke reviewed all his personal information and what to include. He didn’t want to hold back any experiences of significance.

“All of them collectively make me who I am,” Clarke indicated. “Even the bad ones you end up loving when you write about them. Sometimes the bad ones are the ones that change you more.”

His mom is one of the major characters in the show.

“She’s guided me throughout,” Clarke said. “Before I came to the island, she passed away. I play her as well as myself.

“When people leave us in this life, they don’t really leave us. They are within us.”

In 1999, Clarke received a Juno nomination for his first independently produced solo album All My Love. Some of those songs, along with a few that are newly-written, serve as a soundscape for The Journey.

Clarke noted the second half of the show covers his last 30 years in Canadian theatre and television, including Miss Saigon (1993-95, Toronto), The Buddy Holly Story (‘98), The Lion King (2000-2002, Toronto) and working with the CBC doing children’s programming (Get Set For Life 2000-2005).

“Navigating the Canadian entertainment industry through the turn of the century, the outbreak of SARS and the tragedy of 911 has given me the courage to continue sharing the gift of live theatre especially in these times and the understanding that love is what we need to help us make it through,” Clarke emphasized.

On March 15, 2020, the day before the first COVID shutdown, Clarke performed a show called ‘Soul King solo, a concert tribute to Sam Cooke.’ It was originally just ‘Soul King’ written in 2014 as a full theatrical piece that he reworked into a two-person show in 2018 with a full band.

Clarke will draw on his many experiences for The Journey that will surely provide relatable material for people in reflection of their own lives.

“We’ll see how it goes and we’ll see the response,” said Clarke. “I think it’s good, I hope it’s good. I’m excited and scared and everything.”

Interestingly, executive chef Benji Terlien actually met and spoke with members of Clarke’s family to get ideas for the menu in the Playbill Dining Room for the show.

Tickets are available for matinee and evening shows for all ages by calling the box office at 1-800-565-7738 or online at

Michael Clarke enjoys a beautiful day seaside in his adopted home of Crofton. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Don Bodger

About the Author: Don Bodger

I've been a part of the newspaper industry since 1980 when I began on a part-time basis covering sports for the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle.
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