Rory Gardiner brings something a little different to the table with The Music Buffet. As a singer-songwriter who’s “been doing the bars for about 20 years,” much of the set list for this 60-minute mini-concert is determined by the audience in a similar manner to live music at a bar.

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Photography by Gord Weber

With a mix of original songs and covers, Gardiner proves his musical skills and memory for songs (he takes requests!), although as a musician rather than a theatre artist he doesn’t include much of a through-line to connect these songs (admittedly the audience participation also makes this difficult, but there are ways of planning around that). Instead the show (or at least the performance I saw) is much more intuitive: at one point Gardiner started playing one song but then transitioned to other songs with other chords, saying at the end “I got a little carried away there.” Between songs Gardiner strikes up conversation with audience members, so this is a good show for those of you who aren’t shy.

It’s hard to review this show since it depends so much on what the audience makes of it. On opening night I don’t think the other audience members were quite prepared for an interactive musical performance, but if you go in knowing what to expect there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a good time. Gardiner tells us he’s well-versed in several contemporary genres, although the performance I saw had a definite country bent to it. One last note: if you’re not going to be amused by a song entitled “Yoga is Not a Workout” then you might wish to avoid this one.

In a festival that gives you so much choice between various types of show, Gardiner is an artist who gives you the choice within the show. Whatever you pick and choose is up to you.

The Music Buffet with Rory Gardiner

A Break Free Entertainment production

Performed by Rory Gardiner

At La Nouvelle Scène, Studio B (Venue 5)

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