Theatre dazzles with Diamonds

New dinner theatre show hits the David Foster Theatre stage Friday

Bill Zaalberg performs as Neil Diamond at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, weekends through Feb. 20.

Bill Zaalberg performs as Neil Diamond at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, weekends through Feb. 20.

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel will be all a-glitter this weekend as Double Diamond opens at the David Foster Foundation Theatre.

A tribute to music icon Neil Diamond, the show features nearly two-dozen hits performed by local musician Bill Zaalberg, who has perfected the role since 2001.

He’s been a musician for much longer, though, and brings those skills to the stage throughout the dinner theatre run at the local hotel, playing weekends through Feb. 20.

“I’ve been playing music and guitar since I was 17 and I’m 72 now,” he says with smile. A full-time musician since 1975, Zaalberg performed in a number of bands before launching Double Diamond. The timbre of his voice easily matched Diamond’s and audience members often remarked how alike they sounded, he recalls.

The show proved a hit and he and his musicians hit he road beginning in 2001, playing numerous sold-out theatre shows.

“It was very well-received,” he says. From a personal perspective, “I totally related to it. It’s usually very simple music and he’s remained consistent through the ages.”

After taking a break for a few years, Zaalberg is back at it, performing with daughter-in-law Kathleen Zaalberg.

Kathleen, a Stevie Nicks tribute artist, “will perform a short segment in the middle of the show while I costume change from ‘early Neil’ to ‘present-day Neil’ in this non- stop 90-minute performance,” he says.

With 23 songs on the playlist, chances are there’ll be many audience favourites, sung in chronological order from 1966.

It’s the first time Zaalberg has played the David Foster Theatre. A much more intimate setting than some of the larger venues he’s played, Zaalberg looks forward to that interaction with the audience, strolling into the crowd and telling stories about the music and musician.

Fans will be welcome to sing along to classics like Sweet Caroline, of course. “You just give them the signal. We haven’t had one theatre where they didn’t join in,” he says.

As for Zaalberg’s own favourite tune, he turns to 1972’s Play Me, along with Pretty Amazing Grace from 2008’s Home Before Dark.

“It just flows,” he reflects. “Other ones you have to work at, but these come really easy.”

The menu for the evening includes Smoked wild pacific salmon, herb salad, petit filet of natural B.C. beef sous vide, roast new potatoes, harvest vegetables and peppercorn jus, and lemon cherry shortcake.

Tickets are $89 per person. Call 250-598-4556 or visit the front desk or oakbaybeachhotel.com to reserve.

 

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