Florence Fletcher: Returning to THE MUSIC MAN after 35 Years

Florence Fletcher
Florence Fletcher

Florence Fletcher with Blair McFadden
Florence Fletcher with Blair McFadden – 1983

VOS THEATRE chatted with Florence Fletcher about her upcoming role in The Music Man and what it’s like to do the show the second time around.

VOS THEATRE: Hey there! So you’re a Pick A Little Lady. What’s fun about those ladies – the characters and the actresses.

Florence Fletcher: The Pick a Littles are a terrific group, we have so much fun whenever we are rehearsing. We have Michele McAdam who plays Eulalie, the Mayor’s wife who is, of course, the leader of our little group. Eulalie likes to think she is better than the rest of us due to her elevated position as the Mayor’s wife. She always has to be in charge. Heather Town in the role of Ethel Toffelmier, the youngster in the pack, is unmarried and by 1912 standards,is the most daring of the women. Maude Dunlop is played by Krista Sluiman, Alma Hix by Kara Milner, Lydia Amaro brings us Mrs. Squires and there’s me rounding out the ladies as Mrs. Brit.

We get some of the best, most comfortable costumes in the show.

Blair and Florence on stage in The Music Man at CDCI West – 1983

VOS: You have a history with the show don’t you?

Florence: I do. The Music Man was the first show I ever performed in Cobourg. That was back in 1983. I auditioned for Ruth Harcort, who was the director of the show, along with a man I did not know at the time, Blair MacFadden. Little did I know at the time that Ruth would cast us as Harold and Marian and that we would still be friends 35 years later!

It was a wonderful experience, I had an absolute blast doing the show and have not stopped being involved in local community theatre since.

VOS: Favourite line in the show.

Florence: But he doesn’t know the territory!

VOS: Favourite song.

Florence: My White Knight. But I also loved the Lida Rose, Will I Ever Tell You number that Marion sings with the Quartet.

VOS:  What’s your best memory of your first experience and what do you hope the VOS THEATRE production will bring.

Florence: The excitement of performing for the first time in a lead role and my father bringing roses to me at the end of the performance that Mum & Dad came to. Also the people I met while working on that show, many of whom I still see around town and are still numbered amongst my friends.

So many things have changed in community theatre in the past 35 years. Our set the first time around was not fully completed until the end of the first weekend. It was always a surprise to come out each night and see what had been added since the night before. I know that the current VOS Theatre production will be a warm, loving portrayal of a wonderfully written show that is an absolute classic. That it will be a smoother, slicker production with wonderful costumes, a terrific set, inspired direction, terrific performances and brilliant music. Community theatre has evolved in the last couple decades.

It’s the kind of show that you come out humming the songs and feeling great – a really marvelous night out.

Jill Baker – The Music Maker behind The Music Man

VOS Theatre caught up with The Music Man’s Orchestra Director Jill Baker for a chat. Here’s what we learned.

VOS THEATRE: You are such an important part of the VOS family. Actors love looking down in the pit and knowing you’ve got them covered and production teams love the fact that you have fun doing what you do and you pull it all together for us. Tell us about leading an orchestra with a group of local musicians.

Jill Baker: Musicals are like a big family pot-luck and I am so honoured to have the best seat in the house! There is so much talent involved in making this all come together from the directors vision to the seamstress’ last stitch to the tuning of the instruments. After seeing the two groups rehearse separately, the day the cast and pit get together to sing through the show is when the magic really begins for me. Everyone plays an important part, I just signal the musical changes to keep the magic alive for the audience.

VOS: Has music always been an important part of your life?

Jill: Absolutely! My family is filled with talent at the piano in bands and choirs and a huge portion of my family sings Barbershop. I’ve been to many countries because of different bands and have proudly worn 3 different military uniforms.

Jill and the Brown Family

VOS: You’re a talented musician as well as a conductor/orchestra director. What do you play? Where did you learn?

Jill: I’ve pretty much done it all except oboe and bagpipes but only dabbled in a few string instruments. I studied trumpet at the University of Western where I learned so many tricks for all the instruments. Currently I play percussion instruments, primarily the timpani. One of the joys in the arts is that you work with so many people from different experiences and are constantly learning from each other.

Jill Baker with The Concert Band of Cobourg
Jill with The Concert Band of Cobourg

VOS: You do a lot of work in the community with theatre companies and with The Concert Band of Cobourg What is it that fuels you?

Jill: People! Even in long rehearsals so many fun things happen to make us all laugh and I love reminiscing together during social times. I also love being so close with the audience with the VOS shows. It’s fun having a chat with them during intermission.

VOS: The Music Man – tell us about the score or about what drives the music in this show.

Jill: This is such a classic musical in many ways but it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard the song Goodnight Ladies or 76 trombones! The amazing pairing of the melodies creates fun harmonies in Lisa Rose/ Will I everTell you and Goodnight my Someone/76 Trombones. If you don’t leave the show with a bunch of tunes in your head then … Ya got Trouble!

Melissa Baker
Melissa Baker

VOS: Your girl is in this production with the VOS! She’s such a lovely addition to the team. Fun right?

Jill: Oh my gosh yes! It’s a bit of surprise but it’s amazing to see her excitement hard work and dedication to catching up with all the choreo. I can’t wait to see her in those cute costumes!


See Jill and her orchestra at the VOS Theatre Production of The Music Man runs from April 25th to May 4th at Victoria Hall in Cobourg.

Reserve them today before they’re gone!

Get Tickets Now or call the box office:  1-855-372-2210

Friends together again in VOS THEATRE’s The Music Man.

“It’s indecent to meet boys at the footbridge.”

– Zaneeta Shinn, The Music Man.

The footbridge might be scandalous but the rehearsal hall is just fine for Gemma Varty (Zeneeta Shinn) and Ewan Mireault (Tommy Djilas) in VOS THEATRE’s production of The Music Man.

The show opens in April at Victoria Hall in Cobourg but rehearsals are well underway and these two friends are enjoying the opportunity to sing and dance together once again.

Ewan & Gemma
Ewan & Gemma

This pair have grown up with the VOS.

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Ewan Mireault through the years.

From Camelot and Spamalot to Shrek, Chitty and Anne

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Gemma Varty – through the years in theatre

From wee young thing in her first show (far right Oklahoma!) to showgirl (far left Guys and Dolls).

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Don’t Miss These Two Stellar performers and friends in The Music Man

The VOS Theatre Production of The Music Man runs from April 25th to May 4th at Victoria Hall in Cobourg.

Get Tickets Now or call the box office:  1-855-372-2210

Music Man Cast Announcement

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The Production Team for The Music Man wishes to thank the nearly 60 enthusiastic and talented performers who auditioned over the past 2 weeks.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such an exceptional group of people.” – Artistic Director, Marlena Sculthorpe

The VOS THEATRE Production of The Music Man
opens April 25, 2019 at Victoria Hall in Cobourg.

Call the Box Office at 905-372-2210 or Book Online Here

SEE THE CAST LIST

Samantha Clark & J.P. Baldwin on the Role of Women in Guys and Dolls and Cheesecake!

 

IMG_6744VOS THEATRE sat down to have a conversation with J.P. Baldwin (Sky Masterson) and Samantha Clark (Sister Sarah) about working in 2018 on a show that premiered on Broadway in the 50’s.

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VOS THEATRE: Guys and Dolls has been called “the perfect musical comedy” . It ran for 1200 performances on Broadway in 1950, won Tonys and Oliviers and a Pulitzer Prize in 1951. It’s has seen many revivals over the years and has played to full houses from Shaw and Stratford to Broadway. What’s “perfect” about the show and why are the revivals so successful?

J.P. – I think that the book (script) to this musical holds up to analysis very well, comparatively to other book musicals. Yes, it may be dated, but with in-depth conversation within the production as to how to approach a 1950’s text with 2018 values, it is still very relevant and powerful.

Sam: What I think is so perfect about this show is its balance. The two leading couples, Sky & Sarah and Nathan & Adelaide are so completely opposite to one another in character and in the kind of music they sing. The game of ping pong between “opposites” through the show makes it a rollercoaster of storytelling. The show also does nothing subtly. It is loud and proud with it’s comedy  and in creating a mood. As an audience we love this. It’s theatrical enough that we can lose ourselves to the fun of it all!

VOS THEATRE: We know that you’re both were very sensitive to the role of women and their relationships in the show. Can you reflect on the change in attitudes over the past 70 years and how the show still seems to remain relevant to the degree that it played to full houses with an extended run in Stratford this summer.

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J.P. – If the script is approached from a more feminist lens during planning and rehearsal, and with agreement among cast and production, we have an opportunity to see how powerful the female characters in this show really are. I personally think that the women are the ones who really drive the story and maneuver themselves into “power” positions by the end of show.

Sam: The whole plot of the show is really driven by the women. You just have to look past the cover plots woven by the gamblers. Adelaide and Sarah get the 11 o’clock number. They confide in each other about their woes and make a plan to get what they really want in the end. It’s really a good time to be exploring what femininity meant 70 years ago – the power of it, the limits of it. I also find it really interesting to look at Sister Sarah and the General who are of course both women and who both hold professional positions of leadership. In my nerdy research I found that this was not uncommon in the organization & I think that is a wonderful and incredibly progressive piece to this puzzle.

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VOS THEATRE: Enough serious chat – Strudel or Cheesecake?

J.P. – CHEESECAKE all the way!

Sam: – STRUDEL! ….. no really cheesecake. I just felt badly for strudel and didn’t want it to feel left out.

 


The VOS Theatre production of Guys & Dolls 
opens April 19th and runs until April 28th

Call the box office for tickets 905-372-2210
Or Book Online Now