Bells of Baddeck
‘ What I was aiming to do was tell more of the human side of the story’
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.bellsofbaddeck.com 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.