Ragtime musical celebrates the famous painter's life, his mysterious death and the woman who loved him
After two years on hold due to the pandemic, Stone Fence Theatre is eager to launch a remarkable new musical about the life and death of Canada's most famous artist: Tom Thomson & The Colours of Canada: Love, gossip and murder in Algonquin Park.
The show was written and composed by Ish Theilheimer, with Peter Brown and is directed by Chantal Elie-Sernoskie. It will be performed on Wednesdays and Thursdays from July 20 to August 5 plus August 17 and 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Rankin Culture and Community Centre (not the Bonnechere Caves, as originally planned, due to technical problems there.) There will also be shows there on September 18, 23, and 25. Shows on Sundays start at 2 p.m. You can buy tickets here.
In addition, there will be a special performance of the show at the Outdoor Theatre in Algonquin Park a 2 p.m. on August 9. August 10 and 11 are rain dates.
The play itself is based to a large extent on the book, Northern Light, by Ottawa journalist and novelist Roy MacGregor, who grew up in Whitney and Huntsville and is related to one of the story's main characters – Winifred Trainor, Thomson's presumed fiancée and whose grandfather was Chief Ranger of Algonquin Park. The music for the show is all in the ragtime style that was all the rage at the time of Thomson's death in 1917. Most of the songs in the show are based on vintage ragtime compositions, some of them well known, such as Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. One tune is by the classic Quebec ragtime composer, Jean-Baptiste Lafreniere.
The show, which includes 15 original new songs, is performed by an energetic and experienced cast of excellent singers and actors. The lead role of Thomson is played by Nigel Epps, of nearby Eganville, and his girlfriend and possible fiancée is played by Sarah Wright of Barry's Bay. The old park ranger who tells the story is played by Ambrose Mullin, who has been with the company since its inception. His young alter-ego is played by Kirk Harber. Also featured are Stone Fence Theatre favorites Shirley Hill, Beverly Lewis and Robert Tremblay and singer-songwriter Jayson Bradshaw. Peter Brown's "stride piano" genius provides the show's music. The youth ensemble includes Virginia Mallen and Logan Roach.
Coupled with the play will be a unique new event, THE TOM THOMSON WILDERNESS ART FESTIVAL. The Ottawa Valley has many talented artists who follow trails blazed by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. Work by some of these talented artists will be available for viewing.
Doors open at 6:30 and shows start at 7:30 p.m. and run about two hours, including intermission. At the show, audience members can enjoy the art festival and a complementary dessert by Schmidt's Catering and hot beverage by Madawaska Coffee, which are included with the ticket price.
There will be a licensed bar.
Tickets cost $40, or $10 for youth. Youth are encouraged to attend and learn the amazing story of Tom Thomson, but the show may not be suitable for young children. Seating is by general admission but those who order before June 30 get special EARLY BIRD SEATING up front. You can buy tickets here.
To protect your health, Stone Fence Theatre is only selling enough tickets for fifty percent capacity in the hall, which has excellent ventilation.