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Old 10-24-2007, 11:07 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,508
Default Stage Play in Thunder Bay -The Wreck of the Fitz

In The Bay
Return from the icy deep
Linda Maehans
Web Posted: 10/24/2007 6:39:57 AM

As renowned Canadian balladeer Gordon Lightfoot first sang, “the legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they call Gitchee Gumee. Superior, they said, never gives up her dead when the gales of November come early."

In Lightfoot’s haunting recording we hear how “the church bell chimed ‘till it rang 29 times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald. And all that remains are the faces and names of the wives and the sons and the daughters.”

Yet could there be a survivor? Was there perhaps a lone escapee from the unfathomably cold grave where forever that entire crew and ship now sleep? All we know is all on board perished near Cariboo Island between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste.Marie on Nov. 10, 1975.

Magnus Theatre’s second production of the season is a chilling mystery revisited, since to this day no one explanation about why the Edmund Fitzgerald sank as she did is satisfactory, particularly for anyone who lives in this area and has come to know the might of Superior.

Soon the curtain rises on The Survivor of the Edmund Fitzgerald by local author Joan Skelton; this is the world premiere of her stage version. Billed as a drama to leave audiences pondering for quite some time, for some the story might also open windows to light.

Thunder Bay Source met with the actors during rehearsal. The effect of Gilbert J. Anderson’s dark eyes and unwavering gaze, while his hands, arms and body remained absolutely still, was slightly unnerving. Just what one might expect when encountering Gene Amort, a ghost of sorts. The character paused before speaking.

“I’m lost. I’m having such trouble. Staying. Anywhere. Let alone where I am now or where I’m going.”

It can’t be easy being stuck in time. Suddenly Anderson was reassuring, saying it won’t be an unhappy experience for the audience.

“All of us are on a journey. When we’re stuck, when our wheels are just spinning, we like to see up ahead that the path is still clear.”

So how would you react? One frozen day in early January 1976, Clara Wheatley’s self-imposed isolation in the snowy lovely wilderness of northern Ontario is altered by a knock on her solitary door. Actress Liz Gordon spoke softly in the voice of her character, Clara.

“This is my family cabin. I’ve left my husband and adult children at home. For now I want to be by myself. I’m seeing things differently, the lake differently, I’m seeing the snow, the terrain, the rocks, everything. I, too, have a journey that gets clearer when I’m alone."

Magnus director Mario Crudo summed up why this production resonates so well for him

“First I read the novel, and was fascinated. Then we held a workshop about the sentiments with the actors; and now we’ve discovered our blueprint presentation.”

The Survivor of the Edmund Fitzgerald risesThursday, Oct. 25, and storms until Nov. 10. Just as did Superior’s gale until the eleventh hour on that date, 32 years ago.
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