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ART CLASSES. Take an art class with Anne Gallant. Learn many painting te....

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MADD Ice Fundraiser

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Free Sobeys Nutrition Events

Label Reading class will be held on Friday, September 5, from 10–12 pm....

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Girl Guides Registration

Guiding offers the chance to discover new interests, learn valuable lead....

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ACT Calls for Plays in a Day

ACT (a community theatre) will produce Plays in a Day on November 8 at T....

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Art In The Open Survey

Did you check out the Art In The Open festival this year? If so, organizers....

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Arthritis Awareness Month

September is Arthritis Awareness Month, and The Arthritis Society has se....

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Register Your Culture Days Activity

Culture Days (Sept 26–28) is a national volunteer celebration of arts ....

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A Course in Miracles

Every Friday evening at 7 pm a group meets for an in depth study and discus....

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Fibre Art Workshops

Fibre Art Workshops takes place September 20 (1:30–4:30 pm) and 21 (1:....

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Animate This

The Island Media Arts Co-op (IMAC) and its sister organization IMAF 2014....

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Albert & Crown Needs New Owner

Here it is—your opportunity to operate your own intimate music venue a....

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Island A Cappella

A series of 4 free singing lessons will be offered by Island A Cappella ....

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Climate Research Lab needs you

UPEI’s Climate Research Lab needs your help to boost one of its projec....

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Acadian Genealogy

Acadian genealogy and archives at Acadian Museum of P.E.I. available to ....

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Drama Classes

Bonshaw Young Players is a performing group for ages 5–15 that writes, di....

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Bibliothèque J-Henri-Blanchard

Bibliothèque J.-Henri-Blanchard offers activities in French. The comic ....

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Thrill the Island 2014

Learn the Thriller dance and celebrate community, friendship, dressing u....

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Kindred Spirits Quilt Guild

The Kindred Spirits Quilt Guild will meet on Wednesdays, September 17, O....

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FREE Family Law Course

Community Legal Information Association (CLIA) would like to invite the ....

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Chopra Centre Beginners Meditation Class

Developed by Deepak Chopra, MD and David Simon, MD, Co-founders of the C....

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MacNaught History Centre and Archives

Located in the former home of the Honourable J. Watson MacNaught, a cabi....

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Fall Art Classes at Confed Centre

Confederation Centre Art Gallery is accepting registration for its fall ....

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Cinderella Performers Needed

This Christmas, Adam Brazier will give Cinderella an Island twist. The c....

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Summerside Chamber forum at Slemon Park

The Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce will present its September 17....

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PEI Road Runners: from Couch to 5K

Representatives of the PEI Road Runners Club will be at the Confederation C....

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Submit to Farm Centre Exhibit

The Farm Centre and City of Charlottetown is inviting kids under 18 to s....

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Bennett Fall Birding Classic

Each autumn, Island Nature Trust and Nature PEI join forces in a team event....

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Alberton Museum Genealogy

The Eileen Oulton Genealogy Centre is open to researchers. And come view....

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Bluefield Christmas Craft Fair

Bluefield High School will holding its annual Christmas Craft Fair on No....

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Call for Directors/Stage Managers

ACT (a community theatre) will produce Plays in a Day on November 8 at T....

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Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale

The Friends of the Library are having their Fall Book Sale September 26�....

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Hook with the Shady Ladies

Closet Hookers come Hook with the Shady Ladies. Bring a brown bag lunch ....

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Home | Articles | Reviews | Stage | I'm a Fan
August 2013
I'm a Fan
Dear Johnny Deere

Review by Ann Thurlow

I am a huge Fred Eaglesmith fan. And one of the very best things about Dear Johnny Deere, this summer’s offering at The Mack, is that others will get a chance to learn about his music, too. Prolific, but oddly obscure, Eaglesmith is a singular voice and a real Canadian treasure. So it’s great (after years of taking some heat for showcasing non-Canadian music) to see the Charlottetown Festival lead with the chin on this one.

The show takes Eaglesmith’s music and wraps it around a story about a man who is in danger of losing his farm. It’s appropriate; Eaglesmith has never met a farmer or a tractor he didn’t like. A lot of his work laments the loss of the small town, small farm way of life and that’s what this play is all about.

It’s also about the loss of a farm to a major highway development, so the parallels to the so-called Plan B are obvious. In fact, they are played up, with some changes to the original script (the play was first produced in Ontario) to add local colour and references. It’s an interesting choice for the Festival to make, and a brave one.

The cast is great. They sing, they act, they dance and every bit of it is believable; funny when it has to be, heart wrenching when it’s called for. There are a couple of times when the script wanders off a bit. But the actors stay with it and make even the odd transgression credible.

Fans of Roy Johnstone will love seeing him here. You might not have picked the lanky fiddler for a musical theatre actor. But there he is, playing multiple instruments, singing and even taking a star turn across the dance floor in a blond wig.

Caroline (Amanda LeBlanc) and Johnny (Cameron MacDuffee) are at the core of the story, which is as much about their tangled and tempestuous relationship as it is about the farm. Caroline is feisty and Johnny is angry and the two actors have great and sparky chemistry. Enter Mike (Sweeney MacArthur), the land speculator who wants to buy the farm and is, by coincidence, an old flame of Caroline’s. Tempers fly, passions ensue. And believe me, you haven’t seen passion until you see Caroline and Mike singing a duet.

Holding the whole thing together is neighbour and newspaper man MacAllister (Hank Stinson) whose role is akin to a narrator; he guides us along, explains the back story, does it all with vintage Stinson aplomb.

But it’s Fred Eaglesmith’s music that holds the whole thing together and music director Matthew Campbell does a great job of arranging and interpreting the tunes. This is high praise from a major Fred fan.

As the old theatre cliché goes, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry. But in this case, it’s all true. And I’ll bet you’ll actually think a little bit, too. And you’ll leave the theatre humming some great Canadian music.

Some of What's Going On

Bonshaw Fall Festival

Oct 4
Bonshaw Community Centre As part of the 2014 Celebrations Bonshaw is hosting a Fall Festival a ...

Billy Bragg Comes to Charlottetown

Sept 24
PEI Brewing Company The Grammy-nominated Billy Bragg brings his mix of pop and politics to C ...

Poets Talkin’ Nature

Winter’s Tales Authors’ Reading Series with Thurston and Cooper Sept 22 / 23
Faculty Lounge - UP ...

Canada ROCKS!

Thurs–Sat - until Sept 27
Confederation Centre The Charlottetown Festival’s remounted musical re ...

Etsy Made in Canada Day

Sept 27
Muyrphy's Community Centre Look for local crafts at Etsy Made in Canada Day September 27. Th ...

Some of What's New

PEI Singer Wins Maritime Idol

The Season 8 Grand Finale of Maritime Idol 2014 was held in Shediac, NB in July. 22 contestants (fro ...

Order of PEI 2014

Recipients Wayne Hambly, Wade MacLauchlan and Heather Moyse The 2014 recipients of the Order of Pri ...

Starling

Emma Doucette Emma Doucette will launch her debut CD, Starling, in August at the Pourhouse in Charl ...

50th Season Wraps

Canada ROCKS! and Anne of Green Gables play out September The Charlottetown Festival continues its ...

Island Nature Trust Project Protects Farmland Birds

An Island Nature Trust project to improve nesting opportunities for two species of farmland birds is ...