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Soldier Tribute Play Coming to Legion April 1, 2005 Article in the Chester Clipper (Chester NS) By Catherine Schulz-MacArthur Chester Basin – The Everett Branch Royal Canadian Legion here is doing its part to get the troupe shipped overseas. “A Time to Remember A Tribute to the Men and Women of WWII” will be staged at the Chester Basin Legion on April 23. The original show, featuring wartime era songs and stories, is the work of Yarmouth-based 440 Productions. It’ll be all quiet on the western front as the performing group travels from Yarmouth on a reconnaissance mission to Chester Basin. Doors open at 6:30 pm for the 7 pm Show. Wartime refreshments, including war cake and lemonade [and tea and coffee], will be served at intermission. Tickets are $12 each and can be purchased at the legion. Although the stage area is on the second floor and there is no elevator, those with mobility access issues can phone 275-3948 for more information about arranging a lift up. “They approached us about their efforts to take their show overseas,” Legion spokesman Jayne MacKenzie explained of the troupe. Outright sponsorship wasn’t financial possible for the branch, but MacKenzie and her comrades jumped at the opportunity to host the young actors, dressed in period clothing and authentic uniforms. They’re singing for their supper and working off expenses involved in a return engagement near the fabled White Cliffs of Dover. The cast and crew of 16 will travel to Deal, England, at the end of June to entertain World War II era veterans. Their spokesman, Glen Gaudet, said that there is a movement afoot to meet up with inspirational 1940s diva, [Dame] Vera Lynn, now in her 80s. George Egan has been writing and directing these shows for 13 years, Gaudet said. Egan teaches English at Yarmouth Consolidate Memorial High School. He’s a pretty special teacher,” Gaudet said of Egan. “Students will come back to help him (with the annual shows). If you speak to people from Yarmouth high school, many of their best memories are from his class.” English 440 has for years been the drawing card for upper level students and Egan has since the early ‘90s worked drama, song and a little dance into the curriculum with his handcrafted scripts. In recent years, he has found ample material in the memories and musings of aging veterans, and has penned several salutes to their lives and times. 440 Productions was the logical thing to call this band of merry men and women, but the group as well as the students have now graduated and moved on the something with a broader focus. The first overseas trip last year made organizers realize 440 wasn’t just an English course anymore and those involved in Egan’s wartime tribute are no longer only high school students. Some are not now even living in Yarmouth but are away at university. They’ve made it out of Egan’s basic training and make the trip back not on troop trains but by bus or car for the good of the group. “They perform a logistical magic trick,” Gaudet said of the cast members. “I don’t know how they do it.” Their first show of this season took place in Yarmouth’s Holy Trinity Parish Hall, a nostalgic and fitting venue as under this very roof young men and women based in wartime Yarmouth came to the hall to socialize. Gaudet said that Yarmouth was gathering point for servicemen of many stripes. It was there the infantry went through basic training at Camp 60. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) [and the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm] found friendly skies in which to practice missions and manoeuvres. And it was one of only two sites in the world where Telegraphist Air Gunners were trained. These brave fellows, seated in the rear of World War I era Swordfish biplane [torpedo bombers], juggled both telegraph and machine gun. The modern day Yarmouth contingent will meet up with these surviving veterans this summer when they meet for their annual reunion in Lee-On-The-Solent, England. In days gone by, they danced away their cares but now these distinguished and decorated vets are in their 80s and reunion organizers welcomed the 440 Productions’ nostalgic stage show. Egan’s plot this year includes the tale of Bill and Gwen. Real Bill, Gaudet explained, used to spend R&R time on Egan’s family farm. Egan himself had yet to be born but grew up hearing stories of the fellow. “Nobody [quite] knew whatever happened to him,” Gaudet said of Bill. But just last year the unknown son tracked down the lost but not forgotten veteran. Bill returned correspondence and updated Egan on his life lo these many decades, and Egan wove the early chapter of the story into his tribute.
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Soldier Tribute Play Coming to Legion April 1, 2005
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