EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Friday, May 7, 2010

Two comedies presented at dessert theatres highlighted drama productions at Ecole Secondaire Chapleau High School in 1986-87


Dessert theatres were an added highlight to the presentation of two dramatic comedies at Ecole Secondaire Chapleau High School during the 1986-87 school year.

Writing in The Daily Press, George Evans noted that for the Spring production of Emily and Grant Dickinson's 'The Perfect Idiot', the gymnasium had been transformed for a second time into a cabaret where the audience could sip coffee and nibble on home-made desserts.

The successful dessert theatre format was introduced for the school's Fall production of 'Three to get Married' by Kay Hill.

In his review, George writes that Marcel Morin as Daniel Tennyson was "alternately irritatingly clever and pathetically inept" as he schemed and blundered his way to his final success." In the beginning he was a high school genius and social disaster.

Dan's bewildered parents were played "with convincing authority" by Glen Pilon and Trudy Wilson with Michael Telik as Dan's younger brother and Tara Brunette as the bustling, motherly maid, completing the Tennyson houshold.

George noted that Jeremy Comte was effective as the dumb athlete, Buff Witomski,whose inability to pass exams greatly worried Kathy Byer and Leah Cyr the scheming cheerleaders.

Christopher Ivey, who played a bumbling industrialist gave an energetic impression in his role, while Cindy McLaren as the high school principal and Allison Berry as a teacher provided "alarmingly accurate impersonations of the real thing," George wrote, adding that it was also as though they had been preparing for the parts for years.

Jennifer Swanson played the role of the high school principal's daughter while Andre Bourgeault was a police officer, Mchael Alloy a psychiatrist and Kelly Booth, a newspaper reporter.

Mrs. Yvette Joyal was the production secretary and was responsible for makeup and costumes assisted by Lisa Martel and Paula Martel. The property master was Jennifer Vezina assisted by Ginette Morin; sound effects by Alain Lavoie; stage managers Chris Ranger and Darryl Vezina; lighting assistant Camille Fortin; prompter Tara Leigh O'Hearn and the hostesses for the dessert theatre organized by Margaret Rose Fortin were Jocelyne Rioux and Sharon Henderson.

Michael Holgate and Michael Heintz joined me in directing the play while other teaching staff members involved included Alex Babin, Jean Pierre Villeneuve, Rick Dell, Carolyn Hryhorchuk, David Anderson and Chris Knowles. The schools head custodian Gilbert Landry was an unsung hero of the production.

In the Fall of the year, the first dessert theatre was held at ESCHS when the students presented 'Three to get Married', a comedy set in Nova Scotia in 1835 centring around the scheming efforts of Rev. Horatio Dogberrry played by Christopher Ivey to marry off his three daughters. It is a delightful comedy and a play which I first directed for the Chapleau Little Theatre in 1969.

The daughters, Angelina, Seraphina and Dulcinea, played by Trudy Wilson, Anita Hoffren and Jennifer Swanson respectively, gave great performances, while their father "tricked" the unsuspecting arrivals at their church rectory doubling as an inn into marrying his daughters. The suitors to be and eventual husbands were played by Glen Pilon, Marcel Morin and Michel Sylvestre.

Jennifer Vezina played Aunt Lizzie, Dogberry's sister, while Debra Vezina and Allison Berry were the congregation. Linda Tebbutt was the handyman. Catherine Pellow was the hostess for the dessert theatre. Sets were by Chris Ranger; property master Cindy Mclaren; prompter Tania Stover, and the music club was under the direction of Margaret Rose Fortin and Joanne Laughland.

Members of a parent's committee helping with the dessert theatre included Joyce Vezina, Erma Stover, Sheila Wilson and Marian Pellow. Mrs. Joyal was in charge of makeup and costumes and Carolyn Hryhorchuk choreography. Michael Holgate, Michael Heintz and I directed the play.

George Evans, Rick Dell, Alex Babin and Jean Pierre Villeneuve of the teaching staff also assisted.


Jamie Thibault wrote as follows: "Chief, I'm sitting here going through a copy of a program from your production of "Three to Get Married" in 1969 in which you were lead. My brother Ronnie and I moved my mother on the weekend to an apartment in Windsor and I came across it. Quite the memories for you I'm sure and also for me as I was a member of the Drama club in the early 70's as well. Other members of the production were Bernadette Murphy, Eleanor Belfry, Sonia Riddoch, Margaret Costello, Frank Bignucolo, Douglas Rettie and Peter Reid. Mom did the set design and makeup.

"I kinda of remember it as a 10 year old because it was a big thing back then and Mom was involved. If my memory serves me well the NEW High School on the hill had just been inaugurated a few years before."

Just a note on Jamie's message. His mother is Monique Thibault as many readers will know. Yes, I had to play Rev. Horatio Dogberry at the last moment when the person in the role was transferred and Robert Fife, then a CHS student, now Ottawa bureau chief for CTV News, also joined the cast when another actor became ill.

Seems like only yesterday. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Sunday, May 2, 2010


"Greater love hath no man than this,
That a man lay down his life for his friends." John 12:13 (KJV)

Jim Scanland, my good friend and "one of the angels" of Christ Church Anglican here in Cranbrook. B.C., announced that on May 8 Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day or VE Day) will mark the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

On May 8, 1945, the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

Jim, who served in the Royal Canadian Army in World War II, and was at D-Day in June 1944, has been active in Christ Church for many years serving for a time as lay minister. His wife Mary has also been a staunch member of the parish. They were among the first to welcome me to Cranbrook over 20 years ago.

At 87, Jim is still active in the Royal Canadian Legion, and plans to attend a service at the local cenotaph on May 8.

Rev. Yme Woensdregt, incumbent of Christ Church, said that on a recent visit to the parish, the Bishop referred to Jim as "one of the angels of Christ Church." He really is!

As regular readers will know, my father Flying Officer James E. Morris was killed along with four members of his flight crew while on active service in the RCAF on July 16, 1943.

My cousin Judith (Hunt) Botham recently sent me a most appreciated email telling me about a visit she made to the graves of my father and his flight crew. They are buried in Ripon Cemetery, Yorkshire, England.

Judith wrote that she and her husband Alan had just spent "a fabulous (warm, sunny!) weekend bird watching in Cumbria and the south of Scotland and decided to take a route home which brought us pretty close to Ripon so we took a detour to see if we could find your father’s grave.

"The tourist information chap was very helpful so after a visit to the incredibly beautiful cathedral, crypt 672 AD, main building about 1220 AD. (I’m sure your father would have visited during his time here) we set off to find the cemetery.

"It is good to be able to tell you that the cemetery, which is the city cemetery with a special small section for service men, is incredibly well kept and cared for.

"We found your father’s memorial stone straight away as it is the first in the war memorial section alongside 19 other Royal Canadian Air Force crew, plus service men from other forces.

"We think that the first row of grave stones is most probably his full flight crew as all 5 air men died on 16th July 1943.

"So very sad to see how young they all were.

Judith provided information from the gravestones and I have added some further details. My father was 28 years old while J W. Campbell from Yorkton, Saskatchewan was 25; G.B. Nesbitt from Shoal Lake, Manitoba, a graduate of the University of Manitoba was 26; V. F. Rector from Pickardville, Alberta was 23; and no further information on T. M. Kearns.

Judith added: "We found it an incredibly moving experience, how brave they all were to give up their lives fighting so very away from home. It brought it home to us just how hard it must have been for your mother left with a little one to care for and not even able to say goodbye properly."

My mother, Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, died in 1989.

Thank you so much Judith and Alan for taking the time to visit Ripon Cemetery. Thank you so much Jim Scanland for your service to your community, your country and your church.

As I wrote this piece, it struck me as Judith mentioned how young those who served in World War II were, and of course it continues to this day. And remember they came from all over this great country to serve -- members of my father's crew alone came from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Jim Scanland is from British Columbia but was a member of the Fort Garry Armoured Horse Regiment, based in Manitoba.

Judith noted that the inscription on my father's tombstone is:
"Greater love hath no man than this,
That a man lay down his life for his friends."

So true.

And when we pause to reflect on VE Day on May 8, let us remember that "They shall grow not old...."

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE