A marvellous musical retrospective combined with thought provoking narrative content treated audience members of “Bits & Pieces of Dis’ & Dat,” the musical performance presented by the ensemble Listen to Dis’. The show and discussion were on the stage on Monday, April 29 at Jubilee Hall in the Uniplex.  

Familiar songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were performed with incredible skill and a charm and warmth that made audience members smile and clap along. The songs were framed with narrative and dialogue to send a message about the importance of considering those with disabilities as people with strength, dreams and ambitions, and capacity.  

Songs like Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” were turned on their head with an exchange between singer Ammanda Zelinski and monologuist Shay Lee Rosnes. It was a reminder for able people not to treat those with disabilities as being inherently heroic or with saccharine praise. Rosnes professed, “our lives are not to be overcome,” and “they don’t make us heroic – I'm just a person” championed independence and called out condescension.  

Audience members, including friends from Futuristic Industries in Humboldt and Wynyard Carres, bopped along to classics like “Cupid” and “Sea of Love,” performed impeccably with an up-tempo swing beat. A turn with Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots are Made for Walking” got the feet stomping.  

A haunting harmonica intro by Emil Schmuck led into the spiritual “No Mercy in the Land,” accompanied with a hip-hop infused invitation to look at disabled culture in a new way. It was a defiant call to understanding. Guest performer Nathan Coppens talked about the power he found in music before he launched into a gorgeous original, “Keep on Singing.” 

The music throughout the evening had an infectiously happy quality, even in moments where the audience was invited to ponder. Before delivering a stunning rendition of the Carpenters’ “I Won’t Last a Day Without You,” Ammanda Zelinsky pondered what may have happened had Karen Carpenter, who succumbed to complications from anorexia in 1983, been alive in our time with heightened awareness and sensitivity. 

The performance wrapped up with a rendition of “Let It Be” and a medley of the evenings hits along with the rollicking Broadway staple cabaret. The performers, all disabled or disabled allies, came together to produce a moving experience. In addition to the mentioned performers, the ensemble included Jason Yuen on piano, Ed Peck on drums and Finn Burke on bass.  

The Listen to Dis’ crew, whose musical ensemble goes by the name of the Dripping Honeys, are on tour to Melfort, La Ronge and North Battleford. If you are in any of those locales, or if you’re fortunate enough to catch them elsewhere, do yourself a favour and catch this performance that’s bound to delight and inspire.