February may be a dreary month for many Montrealers, but Amanda Mabro hopes that the Wawa Show will brighten up the long months of winter.
“For one thing I want it to be fun, more than anything else, that’s what I want this year,” said Mabro. This will be the third Wawa Show that Mabro has produced since 2003. Wawa is an all-women’s show that’s all about the vibe.
“It started in 2003, and, initially, I was sort of cynical about the Montreal music scene, and I wanted to bring together a bunch of artists that would sound good together at a show, and I wanted to create a sense of community,” she said. “I thought that particularly women weren’t coming together enough, so I thought, hey, why not make an all-women’s show and make this positive environment in which several different artists are supporting each other?”
So, that’s what she did. It began as a charity event, but now has grown to be something quite different. “The first year it was definitely a charity event, which was in part to do something good and in part to raise the profile of the show,” Mabro said. The charity was the Montreal branch of Gilda’s Club, named after Gilda Radner. Babwa Wawa (often misheard as ‘Baba Wawa’), Radner’s famous Saturday Night Live character, is the namesake of the Wawa Show, so Mabro thought that it was “the perfect place” to donate the money.
The first time around was a bit of trial and error for Mabro. She was inexperienced as a producer, and the show was “kind of shaky.” Last year, she decided that it would be more in the community spirit of the show to split the profits between the artists involved. “The show came together seamlessly last year, and the people that saw the show had so much fun,” she said. “It just seemed like whatever we made at the door, it just made more sense to split it among the artists so that it would reinforce the initial point of the show, which was to create a community in which artists come together to share each other’s audiences.”
The second show ended up being a splash success for Mabro and the other performers. “Last year, was, for lack of a better word, magical,” Mabro commented. “The feeling in the room was not something that you could buy or sell; it was wonderful.” She hopes that this year’s show will have a similar atmosphere.
Mabro was hesitant at first about putting on the Wawa Show for a third time. She wondered if it was accomplishing what she hoped that it would accomplish. She commented, “I felt like it was sort of idealistic to think that all these artists would actually come together to help each other as opposed to just fending for themselves, you know?”
After discussions with DeAnne Smith, a comedienne who is also hosting this year’s Wawa Show, Mabro’s belief in the show was rejuvenated. Smith told Mabro that her recent success as a comedienne in Montreal was partly due to exposure that she got from previous Wawa Shows. “I actually believe more than ever the mandate of the show,” said Mabro. “I really believe that it brings a bunch of artists together, female artists, and creates a support system that maybe they wouldn’t otherwise have access to in Montreal.”
There is no specific theme for this year’s Wawa Show. “It’s just this huge m