It begins at the beginning of time and ends somewhere in the future and in between captures the spirit of the people who helped make Huntsville what it is today (and pokes a little bit of fun at them in the process). Huntsville: A Choral History may very well be the most fun you’ll ever have learning about Huntsville’s past.
People familiar with Huntsville’s beginnings will recognize the names of the town’s founding families—among them the Canns and the Hunts and the Haneses and the Wares—and some of the common themes in the show like free land grants, rocks, rocks and more rocks, fires, temperance, and tourism. But you don’t have to know anything about this town’s history to enjoy the show.
“I think anybody who lives in Huntsville will be surprised at how entertaining and educational it is, and how fun it is to watch people sing and dance and learn that way,” says Ian Crowley, who wrote and directs the show. Huntsville: A Choral History has 14 original songs that are linked together with narration by Paul Feist, who some may know as comedian Dorkin Barnes. It stars six local singers—Bridget Lougheed, Monica Ward, Briar Summers, Frank Berg, Isaiah Wagner-Chazalon, and Luke Murphy—and musicians Sean Cotton, Mike Philips, George Axon, and Barry Hayward, with choreography by Tasha Bryant.
“Because it is a history show, obviously there’s a lot of content that you’re going to be taking in, and so I’ve been given the liberty to make the content funny and absorbable,” says Bryant.
“There is slapstick, there is humor, there’s silliness in it,” adds Crowley.
He had been looking for a small project to work on, and he was interested in Huntsville’s history. So he read a couple of books, and then he read a couple more, “and suddenly I’d read about 20 books and all the family histories. And as I was reading them, I created a chronology,” says Crowley. That chronology begins two billion years ago and ends with a nod to Huntsville’s future.
It took about 14 months for Crowley to complete the script and score, working alongside Ian Clyne with whom he has written four other musicals.
Not only is it something new that people will have never seen before, it’s something they will never get to see again. “It’s a one-off,” says Crowley. “I’m hoping people will come out and support it because it’s about their town.”
There will be two performances of Huntsville: A Choral History, presented by the Huntsville Festival of the Arts at the Algonquin Theatre on Saturday, July 13 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 14 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are available at the theatre box office or online here.
Huntsville: A Choral History is written and directed by Ian Crowley; lyrics, music and choral arrangements by Ian Crowley and Ian Clyne. Sean Cotton is the musical director; Tasha Bryant is the choreographer. The show features narrator Paul Feist, singers Bridget Lougheed, Monica Ward, Briar Summers, Frank Berg, Isaiah Wagner-Chazalon, and Luke Murphy, and musicians Sean Cotton, Mike Philips, George Axon, and Barry Hayward. Stage design by David Moe; slideshow by Andy Zeltkalns with historical photos courtesy of Muskoka Heritage Place. Poster design by Valerie White.
Huntsville Doppler is a proud sponsor of Huntsville: A Choral History
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