Bringing you the issues since 1986

View Online Print Edition


Song, dance, humour, and a dramatic story line

October, 2009

The original impetus for the play Till We Meet Again by David Langois, opening on October 16 at the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, was his love of the music of that era. But as the playwright began to research the play, interviewing former soldiers and civilians who remember those years vividly, he felt that the stories and emotions of that time also needed to be told.

The result is a tremendously popular show, Till We Meet Again, that has been presented five times since it was written in 2002. The play recreates two years of Music of the Stars, a live national radio variety show broadcast by the newly created CBC starting in 1940.

Director, Heather Markgraf-Lowe

“I think the key to the success of this show is that it’s so varied,” says director Heather Markgraf-Lowe. “Not only does it have songs and dance, it has a dramatic story line, the humour of the commercials and the poignancy of the letters.” While the news broadcasts and commercials in the play during the radio show are authentic, the personal letters that figure in the storyline are composites, based on various stories of the time, Markgraf-Lowe said.

The stage is set up like a radio show, complete with cue cards and lights that let the audience know they are on air. The show’s audience is called upon to be more than observers. “The MC tells the audience when to clap or be quiet. ‘When this sign is on, we’re broadcasting all across Canada.’ When the lights are on, it’s like a live show and the audience becomes the radio audience.”

In the process they also get to know the performers in the show. “There is the back story of those who are on the stage. The audience sees them as they begin the radio show and they bring along their stories,” Markgraf-Lowe said. “This didn’t happen overnight. We didn’t have the back story of the actors. As we remounted the show we worked on this. At the end of the show, the audience believes they know these people. They are real because they have a life.”

The costumes and music add to the realistic portrayal of the era. “Without the music it wouldn’t be the show. The music is so important.” The most popular songs of the time are heard, including White Cliffs of Dover, Lili Marlene, We’ll Meet Again, Goodnight Sergeant Major and Sentimental Journey.

Markgraf-Lowe, who founded and ran the Hudson Village Theatre for 11 years before she founded Theatre Panache in 2003, says the show is relevant to today’s troubled times. “We’re fighting in Afghanistan and our boys are going out there and they’re dying. Canadians are very aware of the fact that Afghanistan is not our country, not even our Mother Country. Our boys who are going out there are being killed and maimed and wounded emotionally as well as physically.”

Kathleen McAuliffe in Till we meet again Photo: Maurice Jefferies

It resonates in today’s economy as well, she says. “It was tough times then, and it’s tough today. We’re saving our plastic bags. We’re realizing we can’t just throw stuff away anymore.”

At the same time, Markgraf-Lowe says the show is free of politics, with audiences from all backgrounds responding favourably, including the director’s German parents-in-law, who “loved the piece. Japanese, Italian, German members of the audience all love it – because they sang those songs too.”



Post a Comment