Entertainment Local

We Must Have More Men! set for return performances beginning next week in Barrie

By Susan Doolan, Special to Postmedia Network

Three local actors — Heather Dennis, Richard Varty and Candy Pryce — are returning to Theatre by the Bay for the remount of We Must Have More Men! Barrie and the Great War. It opens next week in Barrie, with shows to follow at CFB Borden and in Collingwood. SUBMITTED

Three local actors — Heather Dennis, Richard Varty and Candy Pryce — are returning to Theatre by the Bay for the remount of We Must Have More Men! Barrie and the Great War. It opens next week in Barrie, with shows to follow at CFB Borden and in Collingwood. SUBMITTED

For those that may have missed it — and those that want to see it again — Theatre by the Bay (TBTB) is remounting its best original work to date.

Performances of We Must Have More Men! Barrie and the Great War are slated for Barrie, CFB Borden and Collingwood.

“One of the big things is we’re taking it on the road this year,” said director Leah Holder. “Even if you did see it last year — we have new actors in some of the roles, a new tech team — the set props lights are different from last year and the costuming is (designed) to go with Remembrance Day.”

It also marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

While the play isn’t about the battle specifically, it does centre in the same time period, the First World War, 1914–1918. Britain had declared war on Germany brought Canada and Barrie into the war.

Some of the cast of 10 will represent real people who lived in Barrie at that time: George Livingstone (Livingstone Street is named for him), Ernest Hanmer (Hanmer Street), W.A. Boys (Boys Block) and Justina Calderwood, who was president of Barrie’s Red Cross from 1914-1918.

The play was a year in the making between interviews with family members, local historian Clint Lovell, Maj. John Fisher of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, and lots of research which included reading every issue of Barrie’s newspapers from 1914-1918, soldier diaries and Canada’s national archives.

In addition to delving into some of the experiences of local soldiers, the play also illustrates what was going on at home, how it affected and changed the community, as well as some of the element that continue to this day such as Barrie council arguing over costs and buildings and the importance of the Barrie Fair. Written by TBTB artistic director Alex Dault, who shares co-writing with Danielle Joy Kostrich, it begins with the arrival of hydro.

Dault co-directed the play with Holder last year, who was also instrumental in its development.

Holder was no stranger to TBTB as she was one of several collaborators who wrote and acted in Nine Mile Portage, this show’s predecessor. Several versions of it ran for three years, a unique theatrical and historical walking experience along Barrie’s waterfront.

“I feel like I’ve been able to adopt this city,” said Holder, who has been attracted to theatre since her grandmother took her to see in a high-school production of MacBeth, which featured her cousin. “I said I was going to be actor; the first play I ever saw.”

She did plays in elementary school and became more serious about theatre throughout high school and into university where she acquired a degree in English and history from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B., her home province. While the school did have a strong drama program that she participated in, it didn’t have conservatory training for theatre, which George Brown College did, so she moved to Toronto.

“I met Alex Dault on the very first day of school; it’s been amazing,” she said, adding they worked together a bit in school as well as on different projects and theatre companies, including TBTB since 2012, and some of it extended to teaching and coaching.

The cast of 10 is mostly local and includes returning actors Candy Pryce, Heather Dennis and Richard Varty. One of the new actors in the show, and the youngest, is Maxwell Franklin, a Grade 12 student at St. Peter’s Catholic Secondary School

Performances of We must Have More Men! Barrie and the Great War take place at Trinity Anglican Church, 24 Collier St., from Nov. 1-11. Times vary from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. It will also be staged at Terra Theatre, at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Nov. 15-17 at 10 a.m. and Nov. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 each, available through www.theatrebythebay.com or by calling 705-735-9243. 



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