• James Parry

Shooting in Ottawa hits planned premiere of Spitfire Dance at Canadian War Museum Hudsonite writer-d


JAMES PARRY

Hudson residents Glen Bowser and Karen Cromar had to interrupt their planned performance in the play Spitfire Dance in Ottawa October 22 following the shooting incident that took the life of a guard at the National War Memorial and left the city in lockdown.

As Your Local Journal went to press, with the Parliament Buildings and central Ottawa under lockdown yesterday following shootings - including that of a soldier symbolically standing guard at the War Memorial - Spitfire Dance, written, directed and starring three Hudsonites , was all set to have its first full performance at the Canadian War Museum today (Thursday, October 23).

But when the War Museum too was locked down during final rehearsal and everyone asked to vacate the building by 5 p.m., playwright and director, Clint Ward, told Your Local Journal that this morning’s performance - if indeed it is held - will be a continuation of that rehearsal. Hopefully with three shows in front of an audience to follow through October 26. Said Ward earlier in the afternoon, “While it is tragic what has happened, we are right now in rehearsal and are looking forward to our first of three performances at the Museum before opening at Hudson Village Theatre on November 5.”

Added Ward, “Given the circumstances - and we really don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few hours - we may not have a large audience. But there’s a saying in the world of theatre that, despite all obstacles, the show goes on. And that is exactly what we are planning on doing, unless notified otherwise.” They were notified just minutes later.

Texted cast member, Karen Cromar, “They called in the army. It’s been very scary here. We were supposed to have a show at 5 p.m. for the political people including NDP Vaudreuil-Soulanges MP, Jamie Nicholls, and other Members of Parliament but they may not be able to come. We are fi ne so far. They’re targeting the federal buildings and we are in one.” Minutes later, she added, “We are being locked down. It (the shooting) happened down the road from us while we were singing on CTV.

There are still the rest of our shows to do. So far it’s just tonight’s that’s been cancelled.” Perhaps ironically, Spitfire Dance - billed as a dramatic music entertainment - is set during the dark days of World War II when even German bombers failed to dampen the spirits of Londoners and the shows went on. And brave pilots sacrificed their lives over the English Channel in the legendary Battle of Britain.

But what is not so well known, as meticulously researched and written by Ward - who has had a lifelong love of aviation, beginning with pilot training in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) through almost 40 years with Air Canada - is that women too dared to fly the skies in an era when the ‘important’ flying was considered to have been done only by men.

Thus, it turns the spotlight on the largely untold history of such courageous and fascinating women, including Jacqueline Cochran, Beryl Markham, Amy Johnson, and Amelia Earhart. Says Ward, “I wrote Spitfire Dance to honour the remarkable achievements of female aviation pioneers in general aviation and wartime settings, such as their crucial contribution to the Air Transport Auxilliary during World War II. “It is a play about remembrance that aims to inspire young Canadian females to regard aviation as a career choice, while providing everyone with a nostalgic trip back in time that is especially fitting this year.

Marking, as it does, the 200th anniversary of the Great War and the 70th anniversary of the DDay landings at Normandy.” Starring Karen Cromar, Glen Bowser, and music director Brian Jackson, Spitfire Dance is brimming with renditions of well-loved songs such as The White Cliffs of Dover, I’ll Never Smile Again, Silver Wings in the Moonlight, and Wonderful Amy in honour of British aviation pioneer Amy Johnson.

Following its run at the Canadian War Museum, Spitfire Dance comes to Hudson Village Theatre from November 5 through 9 and for tickets, which are selling fast, go to www.villagetheatre.ca or call the Box Office at (450) 458-5361.

PHOTO COURTESY SPITFIRE PRODUCTIONS

The play Spitfire Dance pays homage to female aviation pioneers who flew the planes in roles traditionally filled by males.

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