Singer comes home to the Grand Bend area as star of The Crooner

Ora Sawyers

Article content

Michael Vanhevel is coming home to the Grand Bend area as the star of the musical, The Crooner, at Huron Country Playhouse.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The show of songs made famous by smooth-voiced male singers over several decades had a successful run in 2022 at the St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre and runs July 5 to 22 at the playhouse near Grand Bend.

Article content

Vanhevel grew up in Grand Bend with parents who loved music from the 1950s and found he had a taste for music from the era.

While he was in high school in Forest, a drama teacher who conducted the Forest Excelsior Band asked Vanhevel to sing with the community group.

He went on to study at Sheridan College and carved out a niche around the Grand Bend area singing the music of Frank Sinatra and others.

Vanhevel is “one of the acclaimed crooners in this country,” said Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment, which operates the Huron Country Playhouse and several other theatres around Ontario.

Advertisement 3

Article content

“Years ago, believe it or not, I kind of discovered him on YouTube,” Mustakas said.

Alex Mustakas
Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment. Handout Handout

Someone sent Mustakas a link to the video when Vanhevel was 20 and Drayton was casting a show, Big Band Legends.

The show’s arrangements and orchestrations were by the late “big band legend” Howard Cable and Mustakas sent him the video.

“Right away, he said, ‘hire him,’” Mustakas said. “It was one of those real-life YouTube finds.”

Vanhevel went on to perform in concerts with Cable, including a full symphony show that toured Canada.

He also appeared in other productions and concerts with Drayton Entertainment, including Come Fly With Me, The Songs of Sinatra, and Hollywood Sings, and he played Elvis Presley in the show Million Dollar Quartet at theatres across Canada. He has also appeared in several productions with Victoria Playhouse Petrolia and recorded three albums.

Advertisement 4

Article content

He’s backed in The Crooner with a three-piece band.

Huron Country Playhouse
The Huron Country Playhouse near Grand Bend. File photo

“There are times when you will literally just close your eyes and listen, and you’ll think you’re listening to Frank Sinatra,” Mustakas said. “It’s unbelievable.”

The show salutes “all the greats,” including Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and “even some of the mid-century stalwarts like (Tony) Bennett and Andy Williams,” he said.

“It’s a salute to all the crooning greats in history. We like to say we include from Bing Crosby to Michael Bublé.”

“It’s really two hours of some of the greatest hits that were ever written,” Mustakas said.

Ticket information and show times for The Crooner can be found at

[email protected]

Article content


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Join the Conversation

Advertisement 1

Next Post

Our Preferred Female Chook Pictures From the 2023 Audubon Pictures Awards

Woman birds continue on to delight and encourage us. From the refined splendor of a Spruce Grouse hen to the daring russet patches on a Purple-necked Phalarope, the feminine birds showcased in this gallery captured the eyes and imaginations of photographers from across North America who entered the feminine fowl […]