(Posted 10:30 a.m., Dec. 13)
Stock production a study in dealing with loss
By Fred Sherwin
it was first unveiled to the world in 1958, the Avro Arrow
was supposed to put Canada on the world stage in the aviation
was a high altitude, supersonic interceptor, the likes
of which the world had never seen before. But then, just
after the flight test program began, the project was abruptly
halted by then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, forcing
Avro Aircraft Ltd. to shut its doors and layoff its entire
was a devastating blow to the country's image and the
self-esteem of the 14,528 technicians and engineers who
had poured their heart and soul into the program.
decision to cancel the Arrow was announced on Feb. 20,
1959, a day referred to as Black Friday in the Canadian
Mazie Foxright, played by Lynn Lebel, confronts
her brother Horace, played by Victor Lachance,
as her niece and Horace's daughter Peggy Clark,
played by Sarah Benfield, looks on. Fred Sherwin/Photo
Avrow Arrow's cancellation and the impact the decision
had on the men and women who worked on the program is
the underlying theme of Vintage Stock Theatre's latest
production, "First Above All", on this weekend
in the Richcraft Theatre at the Shenkman Arts Centre.
Above All" tells the story of a family deeply impacted
by the tragic loss of loved ones juxtaposed against one
man's loss of his sense of identity.
Foxright was among the thousands of people who lost their
jobs when the Arrow was cancelled and forced him into
retirement. To say that the decision left him angry and
bitter is an understatement.
it his loss any worse than the losses suffered by members
of his own family. When his sister Mazie became pregnant
during the war and her soldier boyfriend left her standing
at the alter, he made her give the baby up for adoption.
Their own parents were killed in a car crash.
daughter Peggy Clark, played by Sarah Benfield, lost her
husband in the Korean War, leaving her to look after their
12-year-old son Wellington and her husband's eccentric
Aunt Fancey on her own.
is portrayed as bit of loon during the first half of the
play, but her intercedence a day before her unexpected
passing and three days before Christmas, provides the
impetus to lift Horace out of his doldrums and put the
cancellation of the Arrow in proper perspective.
Above All" has a lot of endearing moments like the
scene in which Fancey , played by Micheline Mathon, teachs
young Welly how to do math by watching the test pattern
on the television. Or when Horace, who is played by Victor
Lachance, tells Welly, played by David Elliott, all about
the Avro Arrow and its state-of-the-art Orenda Iroquios
Lebel also delivers a remarkable perfromance as Mazie
Foxright, especially in the scene in which she recounts
having to give up her baby
Benfield'a performance is the glue that keeps the entire
production together. The veteran actress deftly portrays
a character who must play a delicate balancing act in
interacting with the other protaganists in the production
while dealing with her own loss.
Above All" is the first mother/daughter collaboration
between playwrite Marni Hunt-Stephens and her daughter
director Sam Leclair. Rounding out the family affair is
Sam's husband Greg who manages things behind the scenes.
Above All" is a wonderful play with a veteran cast
that may provide you with a new outlook on life.
are this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A
special matinee performance will also be held on Saturday
at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for child
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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