Bells of Baddeck

‘ What I was aim­ing to do was tell more of the hu­man side of the story’

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GREG MCNEIL gm­c­neil@cb­

Play about fa­mous fam­ily prov­ing pop­u­lar.

Hy­dro­foils, notes from a leg­endary in­ven­tory and the fa­mous Sil­ver Dart it­self form the back­drop to a mu­si­cal per­for­mance based on the life and in­flu­ences of Alexan­der Graham Bell and his fam­ily in Cape Bre­ton.

“The Bells of Baddeck” un­folds in­side the Alexan­der Graham Bell Na­tional His­toric Site in Baddeck, where many recre­ations of Bell’s re­search can be found. The show’s cre­ators have also reached deep into the vil­lage of Baddeck to learn more about the life of the fa­mous in­ven­tor.

“What I was aim­ing to do was tell more of the hu­man side of the story, par­tic­u­larly the role that mu­sic and even Cape Bre­ton cul­ture played in their fam­ily life here,” said Lorna Mac­Don­ald, the show’ cre­ator who is orig­i­nally from Port Morien and is a renowned singer and pro­fes­sor of voice at the Univer­sity of Toronto.

“I’ve been to Benn Breagh a few times and have had the great priv­iledge … and I’ve been through ev­ery piece of mu­sic in the house, I’ve looked at all the books, played the pi­anos in two dif­fer­ent houses. You be­gin to feel the pres­ence of the peo­ple. They are no longer his­toric char­ac­ters, they are real and vi­brant and the sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity has in­creased.”

Adding to its au­then­tic­ity is the home of the pro­duc­tion, which is in­side the wa­ter room of the na­tional his­toric site, com­plete with his­toric props. “At first it was both in­tim­i­dat- ing and then com­pletely en­thralling,” said Mimi Mek­ler, the stage di­rec­tor.

“Then you look at it from another point of view and see an amaz­ing dra­matic stair­case with lev­els. You couldn’t af­ford to build a set like that in any theatre. There are the hy­dro­foils peo­ple talk about in the script and the Sil­ver Dart is ac­tu­ally part of the ac­tion. Never in a mil­lion years could you have that.”

She feels the end re­sult was “an amaz­ing pay­off ” for those work­ing in the show and oth­ers view­ing.

The Bells of Baddeck opened to two sold-out per­for­mances this past week­end as part of a 19-part sum­mer se­ries. The cast and crew re­ceived stand­ing ova­tions on each night and Mac­Don­ald ex­pects it to be well re­ceived through­out its inau­gu­ral run.

“There’s likely a lot of cu­rios­ity about the show and what it re­ally is,” she said. “It’s not a mu­si­cal, it’s not an opera. I’m call­ing it a mu­sic drama be­cause it is based in the el­e­ments of both mu­sic and the dra­matic arts.”

Shows will con­tinue each Tues­day, Wed­nes­day, Fri­day and Satur­day weekly through July. It’s clos­ing day is Aug. 2., co­in­ci­den­tally the an­niver­sary of Bell’s death.

Go online to www.bell­sof­bad­ for more show in­for­ma­tion.


A file photo from the Bells of Baddeck web­site is shown. The show, based on the lives of the fa­mous Bells of Baddeck, opened to two sold-out shows over the week­end.

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