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Dateline Cowichan: Musical theatre back in the valley
It’s hard to recall during these golden years of musicals annually gracing the stage of the Cowichan Theatre that there was a 10-year local drought of the genre during the 1970s.
In a January 1979 Leader column, I recalled past triumphs when the Duncan Musical Club mounted extravangazas like Showboat, Oklahoma! and South Pacific during the 1960s.
My first foray onto the Duncan stage aka the Cow High gym was in an uproarious pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk in 1969. After Jack came The Sound of Music followed one year later by a colourful and costly My Fair Lady that drew packed audiences here and in Victoria. One last try after Lady — a half-hearted attempt at The Boy Friend — fizzled after a few rehearsals.
“... Despite having to rehearse in the freezing cold of the basement of St. Ann’s convent (Providence Farm) and being practically honour-bound to make it through ice, hail wind...there really is something about the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd which excites the senses and clamours for more of the same,” I wrote.
A year or so after Cowichan Theatre opened in late 1979, the annual musicals started up again. And I’m looking forward to Oklahoma! next month.
Teenage accordion player Loretta Laymann looked forward to the Cowichan Music Festival and working hard to carry away awards to add to the many she already had.
More than 200 students, 44 per cent of the school’s enrolment, were absent from George Bonner complaining of a strange illness causing fever, tummy upset, headache and sore throat that had triggered up to 50 percent absenteeism at some island schools.
Newly elected school board chair Joan Gillatt, who was nominated by trustees Gerry Allester and Phyllis Bomford, said she was pleased to be chairman during the Year of the Child. “That’s why we’re here. For the children in our school district,” she said.