No Change in the Weather, is an original musical created by Walter Schroeder and Bernardine Stapleton. The play is produced by Bob Hallett, one of the core members of the popular band, Great Big Sea, and the play features eighteen songs, some of contemporary and others traditional, creating a “jukebox musical” with music that is rooted in the folk music tradition of Newfoundland.
After a month long run in St John’s, Newfoundland, this past July, No Change in the Weather is now beginning a seven city Canadian tour that will take the company to Kitchener, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary, before finishing up the run with two weeks in Toronto at the St Lawrence Centre, the first two weeks of October. Unusually, for such a large touring musical, there will be a local Hamilton showing — they have found a week long berth up at the Zoetic Theatre.
This is a large scale musical, with a fully professional cast of eleven actors, and a six piece band which includes within it, the legendary fiddle player Kelly Russell, who is a member of the Order of Canada, and has for forty years, exported the east coast music of the outport communities, as the musical foundation of groups like The Wonderful Grand Band, Figgy Duff, The Irish Descendants and The Planks.
I will confess that it was Kelly Russell’s involvement in this production, that immediately piqued my interest in it, I own a dozen CD’s that were released on his label Pigeon Inlet Productions, featuring the music of Rufus Guinchard and his contemporaries. In folk music circles, this is like discovering that Paul McCartney is quietly playing bass, in the pit band of a touring production of “Les Mis”. Trust me, this is the real deal — something authentic and important to experience.
The story centres on a cantankerous matriarch of a family, who recalls the moment, that Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949. The play speculates on how things might have turned out, if history had gone in a different direction.
No Change in the Weather is directed by Ruth Lawrence, who has deep roots in the fertile creative soil of “the rock”.
“The theatre scene in Newfoundland and Labrador is very removed from audiences in Stratford, Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, so local theatre companies and producers have become adept at producing great dramatic works that speak to Newfoundlanders. This show has great ambitions, however, and wants to speak to people all over the world, while still retaining the values of Newfoundland culture. The show sold out an unheard of month long run in St. John’s and Corner Brook, so we feel like we are on the right track!”
Clearly then, this production has hit all of the right notes, back home in Newfoundland. The question is, will local audiences give it a chance? I think, that it certainly deserves to be seen, by the rest of Canada. And a production like this, getting a local staging, is a rare event.
“Many of the people involved in the show — Bob Hallett, Berni Stapleton, Kelly Russell — have been at the forefront of Newfoundland culture for decades. We also all live and work within the province, and are steeped in its unique musical storytelling tradition. The music reflects an authentic sound, based on the songs, melodies and instruments of traditional Newfoundland music, so that sensibility is a huge part of the show. In fact, Bob Hallett, the show’s producer and arranger was and remains one of the founders and the musical engine room of Great Big Sea, Newfoundland’s foremost cultural export. His band wrote the book on translating the deep character and energy of Newfoundland music for a much wider audience. Bob has ensured that every note, joke and line of this show will speak to both Newfoundlanders and theatre lovers anywhere.”
I am a fan of theatre, that has a specific point of view and that is rooted in something that matters to a community. This production certainly fits the bill, as it explores the financial hardships of Newfoundland and Labrador — saddled with an impossible debt load, a structural deficit of over $1 billion annually, a declining economy, a population 15% older than the Canadian average, outmigration of over 3,000 people a year, 15 percent unemployment, limited tax capacity, and finally the Muskrat Falls fiasco, which is at the centre of the story.
“Newfoundlanders always punch well above their weight in the Canadian cultural scene, and No Change in the Weather manages that trick once again. Blessed with great songs from the Newfoundland songbook, along with the trademark provincial wit and charm, this show will warm your heart, fill your soul with melody, and even leave you thinking. That’s as good as it gets.” V
NO CHANGE IN THE WEATHER
A Newfoundland Musical
Presented by Terra Bruce Productions
At the Zoetic Theatre,
526 Concession Street
August 28, 29, 30, 31, at 7:30pm
Tickets: 905-902-5683 or online at