Best friends and musical partners Sonshine and Broccoli have been entertaining families for over a decade, engaging children and parents alike with their infectious enthusiasm and energetic pop-rock songs. Their live shows have had audiences singing and dancing along across Ontario and in Vancouver, with upcoming shows scheduled in Calgary and New Brunswick. Other recent adventures include playing Indigo’s Yorkdale store in Toronto and opening for Silento of “whip, nae, nae” fame.
There are three Sonshine and Broccoli albums available to date: Sonshine and Broccoli Jam (2004),
Feel the Beat (2009), and It’s a Beautiful Day (2015). Many of the songs from the 2015 release found their way into a revised version of Sonshine and Broccoli’s family musical I Want to Be, which was remounted at the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival. But performing a stage musical isn’t new for either member of the duo – it’s actually a return to their roots.
From as early as the age of five, Toronto-born Lisa Sonshine was eager to perform for family and friends. She was belting it out at her own bat mitzvah when her powerful voice caught the ear of the evening’s other entertainment – jazz legend Jackie Richardson. Richardson connected the family with renowned vocal coach Theodore Gentry and at age fourteen Lisa began her professional training. Gentry encouraged Lisa to try everything from opera to jazz, but when she was alone and singing from her soul, it was lyrics from the musical Rent that echoed out from behind teenage Lisa’s bedroom door.
In nearby Thornhill, Brock Burford grew up playing elite-level hockey, hanging out in studios with his television-producing father, and trying his hand at acting. The diverse musical collection in the Burford home shaped Brock’s tastes to include everything from The Nylons and barbershop quartets to The Beach Boys, The Who, and The Beatles. But it was learning to play the riff from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” that got seven-year-old Brock hooked on the guitar, and he spent years studying both classical and rock guitar. Then in his teens a role in Annie led Brock to re-discover the joy of singing, and to the revelation that his love of acting and music could be combined.
And so at Sheridan College’s Musical Theatre program in Toronto, the driven vocalist with boundless positive energy and an eye to stardom met the charming and down-to-earth guitarist who loved a great lyric as much as a great lick. More than ten years and countless live shows later, the playful harmony of that friendship is still reflected in the songs and stage presence of Sonshine and Broccoli.