Tuesday, October 17, 2006

From terrible times arise wonderful songs: The War Show

MusicMakers will bring The War Show back to Victoria Hall November 3 to 5, said producer Michael Ellis.
“We did it six years ago with Northumberland Players,” he recalled.“It was written for just eight people, so there’s lots of quick changes and people taking three or four different parts. We didn’t think we could handle that.”
By combining forces, he said, MusicMakers could perform the show’s wonderful old war songs and there would be enough people that they didn’t have to double up on roles.
The show played to sold-out houses, and enabled MusicMakers to donate $10,000 to Habitat For Humanity.They loved the idea of doing it again, and this time the proceeds will go to YMCA Northumberland — which is making space available for some of their rehearsals.
The show is written by Peter Colley — who, Mr. Ellis said, is now in Hollywood.“There are lots and lots of laughs in the show,“ he said. “But it’s also very poignant because of the five soldiers whose adventures you follow — from the time they join up in Canada and go to Camp Borden, then off they go to Halifax and over to England, where they march around for three years.”
Then there’s Dieppe, and they lose one of their people. Then they go to Sicily and lose another one, and then to Italy and they lose another one, and D-Day and they lose another one — so there’s only one at the end.”
The main character narrates his memories, starting when he’s a 19-year-old who has just joined up — to the chagrin of his family who wonder who will look after the pigs.
Listing the players in alphabetical order, Mr. Ellis begins with the soldiers.Trinity College School chaplain Don Aitchison plays Sharky, who is a bit of a crook. Bill Bates plays Pops, who had also been in the First World War. Doug Frith is Duddy, the youngest and most naïve of the lot. Jamie Hunt plays Dusty, a typical young man of the times. And Courteney Ponting plays J.P. the French Canadian (whose name is really Jean Pierre).
The women who add their voices in song are Beth Craig, Gwen Darling (the show’s musical director), Pat Tatlock and Clare Tickle.
And what songs, Mr. Ellis said — 24 great numbers including I’ll Be Seeing You, Lili Marlene, We’ll Meet Again, There’ll Always Be An England, What’ll I Do, Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major, White Cliffs of Dover and Wish Me Luck.
The group has been asked to put on an extra show for high-school students as part of their history curriculum, which is a good idea, as far as Mr. Aitchison is concerned — he accompanied a group of students to Belgium recently and included a visit to the graves of Canadian soldiers.
As far as regular shows go, however, there are 2 p.m. performances November 4 and 5 and 8 p.m. performances November 3 and 4. Tickets are $20 for evening shows and $18 for matinées, with special group rates available. For more information, call 905-372-2210.


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