Theatre

I'll Be Seeing You

Starting October 25th, nostalgia will hold sway at The Players’ Guild of Hamilton as the new wartime musical revue I’ll Be Seeing You has its premiere.

Starting October 25th, nostalgia will hold sway at The Players’ Guild of Hamilton as the new wartime musical revue I’ll Be Seeing You has its premiere. Director David Dayler has created an original musical/multi–media revue comprised of “the songs that won the war”. Whether or not you know who The Andrews Sisters or Vera Lynn are, matters not a jot.  You need only sit back and surrender to the spell of the heartfelt songs of World War II. 

For director Dayler, this new, original production had its genesis in childhood memories of sitting around the family piano as his mother played the songs of the war years. “I fell in love with the time period and the music. Fast forward to my teaching career at Westdale Secondary where I mounted a production of The War Show and got to introduce a new generation to this music. I subsequently did a version with New Faces at Hamilton Place but always wanted to do a major production featuring this music at the Guild!”

“When researching extra material, I also came across the D–Day Darlings (a ’40s themed wartime singing group featured on “Britain’s Got Talent”) and one piece of new music they wrote just stunned me! It was the perfect opening for our show. So, I asked if we could purchase the rights. They were thrilled and gave permission. I won’t give away the content, but I will say it is a powerful way to open our production. So, this is a revue that has been created by me. It’s not a play, but a nostalgic musical walk through the period.”

“Watching the production take shape has been remarkable. From a fantastic set design by Trevor McAnuff to period costuming and the fact that we’re venturing into new technology with the use of slides and video, it’s been exhilarating and the end result is very powerful. The aim is to create an “experience” for our audiences. Not only those who can remember the period, but those who’ve been told stories of family members and loved ones who lived through the times.”  

“In fact, two of our cast members are young women (Nicole Martin and Olivia Korosak) with no memory of the war and so for them it was like learning a new language. There was great joy in watching them bring a fresh new voice to this material. Add to them the power house performances of Carolyn Campbell, Lucy Tenace and Randy Coutts along with Andy Hui, Matthew Mace and Luke Fillion, and the overall effect is astonishing.”

But what of the timeliness of this production and all the planning and effort needed to bring it to life? Music Director Brenda Uchimaru chimes in:

“The theme is very timely, coming on the heels of the 100th anniversary of end of WWI and 75th anniversary of D-Day. It’s a tribute to those who fought to give us the freedom we have in Canada. I’m drawn to the genre because many of the songs have become timeless as jazz standards e.g. ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’, ‘You’ll Never Know’. A “revue” lets you program many more songs than you would have in a “book” musical with a full plot.”

“In a revue, you’re working with a list of songs. We auditioned with an idea of the size of ensemble we wanted, then looked for the right people. I’m listening to vocal quality and ranges because harmonies will be created. Once we had a cast, we matched singers with songs, then created a running order and some variety of mood. We found keys that were comfortable for singers and that created mood. You also have to consider transitions from one song to the next or within a song to meld with the blocking.”

“As far as the actual sound of the show, we’re not trying to recreate the sound of Big Bands. The Guild is an intimate space and so with essentially piano, drums and some synthesizer, it is more to create the memory of a gathering of friends and family to sing the songs that they heard. We know how music can help heal, trigger memories and touch our emotions. The music in this show will bring us some laughter and some warmth and remind us of the sacrifice of those who fought to give us the freedom we enjoy.”

“There’s no heavy plot and I’m sure that many will find themselves humming along or thinking: ‘I remember that song’. I often hear people say that on a Friday night, they just want to be entertained and not have to concentrate on complicated characters or plotlines. This show just might be the right thing to just let them relax and enjoy seeing people who love to give some enjoyment to others.”

But even for those who don’t remember the songs, I’ll Be Seeing You will have much to offer. Cast member Luke Fillion posits: “Our show has something to offer everyone. For the younger crowds it may be an eye–opening glimpse into a different time. For the seasoned theatregoer it may rekindle memories of yesteryear. The music and imagery are likely to appeal to everyone and I hope that each audience member is moved and entertained.” 

“This kind of nostalgic theatrical revue allows both companies and audiences to virtually travel back in time, to relive memories, reflect on the past, and observe how much our world has changed (or hasn’t) changed since the era in which the show is set. As someone who wasn’t around during the war, I am learning more about that time and its beautiful music while increasing my appreciation for our veterans.”

“This show is different from most musicals I’ve been in, since the ‘book’ is generated by our director, most harmonies and arrangements are done by our musical director, and the show is constantly evolving as we rehearse. This organic aspect of our show keeps us constantly on our toes. It’s a challenging approach to theatre and I’m confident that audiences will love what our company is creating together.”

“I’m grateful to be a part of such a talented company! David is a brilliant director; it’s the realization of a dream to be in one of his shows. Brenda has been one of my musical mentors for years and working with this talented duo is a gift. The people onstage are phenomenal singers, actors, musicians and all–around lovely people. We are in good hands with Connie Spears, our stage–managing superstar with a great sense of humour and a sharp attention to detail. I would especially like to acknowledge our entire production team, since they are the unsung heroes of our show.”

Castmate and long–time Dayler collaborator, Lucy Tenace agrees: “The cast is a very eclectic group of people. We have performers who have never done this before; we have seasoned performers who have professional training. It’s really a great mix, and it’s amazing that we can all come together and work together to create this show. Because this production is compiled by our director, it would evolve and change throughout the rehearsal process. If David reimagined an idea, he would give us new notes or blocking or rearrange the order of songs.”  

“Similarly, our musical director is composing harmonies for many of the songs, and we went through a period of change and new additions to music.  This is challenging as a learning process, but very rewarding to perform once everything is set and learned.”

“It’s rewarding when you’ve been through ‘stumble throughs’ of the show and then you finish a run of the show and the entire cast and crew knows that it went well. You feel the release of energy and the thrill of the show and the relief that the hard work has paid off.”

“And I have to mention that I’m awestruck at the detail that Eileen and Trevor McAnuff have created in the set design and construction of a bombed out building. The set beautifully captures the tragic destruction that war brings.”

“There’s some comedy and of course, beautiful musical moments. Those who remember the era will enjoy it most. We’ve worked hard to capture the style of the period through costume, makeup and hairstyles. When you put that together with the music, you’ll feel like you have stepped into history for a short moment.”

Don’t miss what promises to be a feel–good evening of moving music and song. And one last note from the director:

“Bring Kleenex...you can’t help but be moved.”  V



I’LL BE SEEING YOU: 

THE SONGS THAT 

WON THE WAR

80 Queen St S., Hamilton,

Friday October 25 – Saturday November 9

Tickets:

Call The Guild: 

(905) 529-0284


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