New Ideas – week two reading

Hey all – as promised, the week two reading: The Flying Avro Arrow – The Musical, by guest blogger Tina McCulloch:

Hello, guest blogger Tina McCulloch here.

A confession:  Before seeing this show, I didn’t even really know what the Avro Arrow was, much less its cultural significance to Canada.  Well, I’m much more educated now.

Doug Warwick’s very funny (and informative!) musical The Flying Avro Arrow is set in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.  Director Nonnie Griffin (who also played a small role) led a spirited cast through a fast-paced, hour-long romp that introduced us to such characters as Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker (Stephen Flett), Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (Franz Robinow), U.S. President Ike Eisenhower (Leeman Kessler), and Olga the sexy Russian spy (Danielle Capretti).  David Abramovitz played Morris Lax, a scrap metal dealer from Hamilton, who figured in the Arrow’s demise, and genuine Russian (actually Ukranian) Kyrylo Gubarev played a Russian pilot.

The cast sang along to some pre-recorded music, and some songs were played live by Warwick on an electric keyboard.  He conducted enthusiastically throughout.

Random lines that made me laugh:  “Vat iss problem, Diefy?” – a recurring question from Khrushchev. 

Olga to William Shatner:  “Do you know anything about corn?” 

Shatner to Olga: “I’ve done Shakespeare at Stratford.”

Asked after the performance how much of the content was factual, Warwick, who researched the project extensively, admitted to 75%:  “some facts were bent,” he confessed.  I mean, did aspiring actor William Shatner (played by Jason Winther) really work as a security guard at Avro HQ??   Who cares – I loved the incorporation of Star Trek lingo and theme music into his scenes!

One audience member praised the show for combining history, humour and politics, and director Nonnie Griffin noted that this musical version would bring the Arrow’s story to a whole new audience.

The Flying Avro Arrow will fly again in the Toronto Fringe this summer – it’ll be in one of the BYOVs  – United Steel Workers Hall. 

A full-size replica of the Arrow (actual name:  Avro Arrow CF-105) can be seen at the Canadian Air and Space Museum in Downsview (www.casmuseum.org).  The cast had the opportunity to visit, and were awed by the beauty.

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