Parrywinkle Dec. 17, 2015

In this ever-increasingly PC world - and I'm not talking about the Progressive Conservatives nor Personal Computers but rather Political Correctness – wouldn't it be wonderful to just let your hair down and boo the baddies and hail the heroes at the top of your lungs and to your heart's content? In a public space, with like-minded individuals of all ages from tots to seniors, without being pilloried in the media, and without fear of ridicule or being arrested? And no, I'm not talking about a Donald Trump rally.

Well, it is possible. And right here in Hudson from December 17 through January 10. Thanks to that great British tradition, the Christmas Pantomime. In which men dress up as women, women as men, the punnier the jokes the better, and in the words of that great American lyricist, Cole Porter, just about anything goes!

Yup dear readers, it that's time of year again at Hudson Village Theatre which, for the past eight years, has been staging Quebec's only Panto for more than one or two shows with a cast and crew of about 80 from Hudson, St. Lazare, and the West Island and a reputation for putting on hilarious performances that the entire family can enjoy.

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A JOLLY ROGER GOOD TIME - This time around - and giving the word crew a whole new twist - it is the tale of Peter Pan, the little mischievous boy who can fly and who never grows up. And his adventures in Neverland – no relation to the late Michael Jackson by the way - with Wendy Darling and her brothers, the fairy Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, the Mermaids, and the dastardly Captain Hook and his scurvy crew of pathetic pirates aboard the Jolly Roger sailing the seven seas in search of … Well, whatever.

Sat in on a non-costumed rehearsal earlier this week. And, tell you folks, I was hooked!

Why Peter Pan? I asked director Glen Robertson between scenes. “Because I think it is so well suited to the holiday season and they both bring out the child in us. And I love a Panto that appeals to all ages.”

As a director of Pantos, Glen – who studied professional theatre at Dawson College in the late 70s, worked professionally for many years after that, and who moved to Hudson two years ago – comes with impeccable credentials. His production of Cinderella on the HVT stage also two years ago and complete with a live band, sold 95 per cent of seats at the little theatre down by the railway tracks!

Asked about the specific challenges involved in directing a traditional Panto as opposed to a straight play production, he obviously didn't have to think twice. “It's the broad range of people involved, keeping everything organized, and fitting a lot of people who have been rehearsing since mid-September two or three times a week onto a small stage.”

People such as the musicians, who are on stage throughout the performance, comprising Roy Vuorela on drums, guitarist Andrew McCafferty, bass guitarist Tristan Peirce, also alto saxophonist Sophie McCafferty and tenor saxophonist Noah Amyotte, as well as Sasha Aiken on keyboards.

With set design by Lea Durocher, costumes by Tina Struthers, choreography by Kerwin Barrington, and under the musical direction of Andrew McCafferty, Peter Pan – sponsored by Hudson's very own British food emporium Clarence & Cripps on Cameron - promises to be a winner for the entire family this festive season. And with seats selling faster than hot cakes, may I respectfully suggest that if you are planning on taking it in, don't wait until you get a day older!

For reservations, call (450) 458-5361 or go online at hvtbox@videoron.ca, And please do remember to boo and cheer to your heart's content. The cast and crew will love you for it!

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CARDS WITH A CAUSE - And now to another festive tradition that sadly - at least in my book and attributable to computers - seems to have gone out of style for so many in recent years. The actual writing and sending by mail good old-fashioned Christmas cards.

Well, it's not too late. And if you are looking for some really original cards – created right here in our neck of the woods - then do I have a suggestion for you!

Once again, talented and most multi-faceted artist, Sebastian McKinnon who lives in Rigaud, has designed six beautiful seasonal images on blank cards that continue the moving yearly Christmas story that some may know as The Moon's Daughter and When Starlight Falls. All of which directly support the One School for All initiative giving the gift of education to young students in Peru through the Pure Art Foundation's Children Contribution program.

This truly magical set of cards, which sells for $10 with every cent donated through the Foundation to keep over 300 students there in school each year, is accompanied by a special story written by his younger brother, Liam - currently enrolled in a Global Conflict Studies program at Ottawa University – who told me that this year in particular, with the world coping with a refugee crisis, there is heightened community awareness to the plight of children all around the globe.

You can find your set of cards at the Pure Art Fair Trade Boutique, 422 Main Road in Hudson, or at www.pureart.ca where you can view the complete set of cards. You will be amazed!

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ROCKING ON - And speaking of Sebastian McKinnon, as I write this, just learned that he is currently back in Newfoundland scouting locations for his next project. A feature film currently titled The Sad Prince and to be shot entirely on the Rock inspired by his previously-released trilogy of short films that he and his brother, Ben, directed. Namely, Kin, Salvage in which myself and fellow Hudsonites Robert Kemerer and Peter Williamson were honoured to be part of in acting roles, and Requiem in which the late Ian Walker, and my former Panto buddy on three occasions, made his final acting appearance.

Derek Montague - a fellow journalist albeit provinces apart and writing for the Western Star newspaper - caught up with Sebastian in Corner Brook this past week. And in a major article, he wrote, “He has produced three short films during his career in multimedia. But there is nothing small about the ambitions for his next project - a feature film to be shot entirely in Newfoundland. His previous three films are artistic pieces, with no dialogue. And through the stunning visuals and moving musical score, it’s up to the viewer to interpret the meaning of each film.”

Added Derek, “The Sad Prince is based on the story and characters of the first short in the trilogy, Kin, which seems to take place in a medieval-type world, complete with an armoured knight riding a white horse.” Said Sebastian, without any pretense or hubris of any kind, “I want to do for Newfoundland what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand.” And you know what? I truly believe he will!

The trilogy of short films, by the way, is available on YouTube, and has more than 100,000 views combined to date. Check it out. You will be truly gobsmacked!

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WINGING IT IN STYLE - As me and my beautiful Sunshine certainly were Saturday evening , December 12, at the first-ever performance of the stellar 306 Maple Leaf Wing concert band here in Hudson at St. James' Anglican Church Hall conducted in inimitable style by Bren Besner in an initiative first proposed by church and band member, Kerrie Smith, and immediately endorsed by the St. James Women and numerous volunteers.

With a much applauded program ranging from stirring marches to new arrangements of traditional Christmas songs and carols to Gershwin's American in Paris, jazz renditions of classics, and even the Overture for Winds by Mendelssohn, it was simply spectacular. And I do hope that it will become a new annual tradition in 2016 and for many more years to come!

And that's a wrap!

E-mail: creation@videotron.ca

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