The band went on at about 10 p.m., starting the show with an unmistakable seven-note riff.
Shania Twin — looking like the real Shania Twain from top to bottom — took the stage singing “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”
Twin, otherwise known as Donna Huber, brought her Twain tribute act to Smilin’ Jack’s Bar and Grill at 3482 Lawrence Ave. E. Saturday night.
“I couldn’t even tell it was not Shania Twain,” said Jordie Scott, a Scarborough resident at the show.
He wasn’t exaggerating. Everything from her tall, black leather boots to the trademark Twain hairstyle made the performance feel close to the real thing.
Huber’s high-energy show had the entire crowd — a mix of fans and Smilin’ Jacks regulars — on the dance floor till the wee hours of the morning.
“I loved her [stage presence],” Scott said. “I really liked what she was wearing too. She had the whole getup. It was great.”
Lori Dennis, an old friend of Huber’s, was also at the Saturday night show. It was the first time they’d crossed paths in more than 10 years. She recalled being with Huber the moment she was struck with the idea to pursue a performing career.
“We went on vacation with some friends to Nashville. She went in the Barbara Mandrell recording studio and did karaoke. She sounded horrible,” Dennis said with a laugh.
“But, she said that somebody else there said that she looked like Shania Twain,” she added. “So she got a karaoke machine and practiced and practiced … until she was ready enough to make the decision to do this.”
Before starting the act in 1996, Huber had experience singing in a choir but never as a lead performer.
“I said I was going to do this for about three years and have some fun and then I’ll move on,” Huber said in an interview the day before the Smilin’ Jacks show. “That’s really what I thought. I never expected to sing. I wasn’t thinking music back then. It wasn’t in my brain at all. Maybe in the shower, but that’s it.”
Now, 15 years later, she said she’s enjoying paying homage to one of her favourite artists.
And, it seems, so are her fans.
“What sets her apart is her overall performance, the energy she brings,” Scott said. “She keeps the audience really involved. A lot of other bands just go out there and sing, but she’s a full package of entertainment.”