A Musical Tribute to L. M. Montgomery
Review by Hilary Prince
Hank Stinson, playwright and composer, and Heidi Jury-Giles, on piano and keyboard, present A Musical Tribute to L.M. Montgomery, at 8 pm every Thursday, until August 30, at Orwell Corner where there is absolutely no doubt Lucy Maud's spirit is alive and well, inspiring and nourishing the amazingly fruitful creativity of so many who live on her beloved Island.
After invoking her guiding spirit Hank and Heidi take us through an enchanting musical revue of Lucy Maud's novels Blue Castles, Emily of New Moon, and Rainbow Valley. They help us see the world through the eyes of wise children and, disarmed by their charm, some compassionate adults. The pomposity of stuffy adults as observed by Emily as she sees the similarity between fussy, strutting chickens and some people in her community is hilariously interpreted by Hank in "The Chicken Song" and would be particularly appealing to children as well as adults, stuffy or otherwise. Hank wrote the lyrics to all the songs in this production.
Together Hank and Heidi, especially in their duets, transport us to another, gentler world where Lucy Maud's characters help us see beyond the surface of things to magical landscapes where trees and the wind talk to us in a language that soothes and delights. Heidi's interpretation on keyboard of "The Wind Woman Song" spirits us away to another, peaceful place. Her clear, pure voice is a joy.
In narrative, song, and dance, Hank introduces us to favourite characters from the three novels. Cousin Jimmy Murray, from Emily, the ill-used Mary Vance from Rainbow Valley, and the imaginative Valancy Sterling from Blue Castles come alive.
Hank succeeds in his endeavour to bring insight into the relationship between the Island and the creative process. He conveys the idea that there are indeed special spirits at work on PEI. The evidence is in this enjoyable, entertaining, and informative presentation which makes us want to renew our acquaintance with all of Lucy Maud's characters and the special, compelling charm of PEI.
Dean Bury and Helen MacRae collaborated on the production and Hank acknowledged them with gratitude. Hank and Heidi with the help some members of the audience served lemonade and home-made cookies during the short interval. I highly recommend this Musical Tribute to L.M. Montgomery, suitable for children and adults alike.