Lyn­den re­vue still crazy af­ter all th­ese years

In a tiny com­mu­nity, a great tra­di­tion strug­gles to sur­vive against chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics

The Hamilton Spectator - - Local - JEFF MAHONEY jma­honey@thes­ 905-526-3306

How does that song go? A crazy lit­tle thing called ...? Starts with an L.

Oh, yeah. Lyn­den. It’s lit­tle — 500 peo­ple. It’s crazy, about its bi­en­nial spring re­vue.

And liv­ing in Lyn­den is def­i­nitely a “thing.” For some peo­ple, just the thing. Peter Fin­layson, re­tir­ing 12 years ago, trans­planted him­self from Toronto (pop­u­la­tion: slightly more than 500) where he was an ad com­pany ex­ec­u­tive. He can’t imag­ine liv­ing any­where else.

So “A Crazy Lit­tle Thing” is the per­fect theme for this year’s crazy big show, a won­der­ful, ten­der romp, fea­tur­ing skits and songs, mu­sic and cos­tumes, re­lat­ing to that other L word, the fourlet­ter one: love.

It prom­ises to be a great ad­di­tion to a long tra­di­tion of ex­cel­lent pro­duc­tions; the Lyn­den Spring Re­vue, every sec­ond April since 1970.

Now wait, I hear you ask. In a com­mu­nity of 500, where do they find enough tal­ent?

If you have to ask, you don’t know Lyn­den.

It’s more than crick­ets chirp­ing and grass grow­ing through the rusty tines of a for­got­ten har­row. Peo­ple here sparkle and roar, with var­i­ous gifts and pride of town.

Linda Davis, for in­stance, is an ac­com­plished singer. And she hap­pens to be this year’s di­rec­tor. But long be­fore she was di­rec­tor, Linda was singing and act­ing, far back as 1986.

To the de­gree that fond per­sonal mem­o­ries run long and deep, so com­men­su­rately do the pangs of the re­vue’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity af­flict sharply those who love it. Chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics have left their marks.

The heart and fire are still there in Lyn­den but, says Bill Os­borne (in the choir since 1982), “We’re not quite the same com­mu­nity we were even 10 years ago.

“We don’t have the school, and the bank left and many stores. The co­he­sion’s not what it was, but when we put on the show, every­one says how great it is.”

There are con­cerns about the venue, the Lyn­den Troy United Church, with an ag­ing con­gre­ga­tion. Will it still be avail­able two

years hence?

“I re­ally hope this isn’t the last one,” says Linda, “for two rea­sons. I’d hate to see it end on my watch and also, the next one will be the 50th an­niver­sary.”

But there are many rea­sons for op­ti­mism. The rate of par­tic­i­pa­tion is as­tound­ing. If some­one so much as looks at Lyn­den on a map, it seems, they get snatched up for the show, sight unseen.

It hap­pened to Linda when she moved here. “But you haven’t even heard me sing,” she told them. Didn’t mat­ter. This year’s cast and crew num­ber al­most 100, a fifth of the town’s pop­u­la­tion. One fam­ily of seven, the McCal­lum fam­ily, has no fewer than six in cast and/or choir: Dee, An­drew, Beth-Anne, Nicole and Wil­liam and mom Mary.

There are many in­ter­gen­er­a­tional con­nec­tions in the re­vue: The Lan­do­nis, the Gi­rards, oth­ers. Ac­cord­ingly, “A Crazy Lit­tle Thing” takes us through three phases of a grand old love story. The meet­ing of Will and Emma in Grade 3 (played by An­drew McCal­lum and Sonya Noack), their love in old age (Al and Krys Crox­all); their love in adult­hood (Nicole and Wil­liam McCal­lum).

The time frame shifts among the phases, with co­pi­ous de­lights and set pieces along the way. The hi­lar­i­ous “Side By Side” has the wife watch­ing her hus­band get ready for bed, putting his false teeth, glass eye, hear­ing aid, etc., on a chair be­side him.

Says Linda: “The wife fi­nally sings, ‘So I slept in the chair/ There was more of him there/ Side by Side.”

Long­time mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Roger Gi­rard com­piles lists of songs and ar­ranges them all, him­self, for the choir, soloists and play­ers (there’s a great five­piece band).

“It takes time, but it al­lows us to get the mu­sic we want, with our range and lim­i­ta­tions. It’s bet­ter for con­fi­dence and mu­si­cally. There’s noth­ing worse than strug­gling (with ma­te­rial) and hav­ing a screech­ing so­prano (try­ing to reach notes).”

But per­haps Roger’s per­son­al­ity it­self, no less than his ar­range­ments, brings out the best.

“He’s won­der­fully larger than life,” says Linda, with a smile, “and we just don’t want to dis­ap­point him.”

Nei­ther do you. Please help keep a great thing go­ing. “A Crazy Lit­tle Thing” opens Satur­day.


Th­ese cast mem­bers are star­ring in two prom­i­nent skits in this year’s Lyn­den Spring Re­vue: "Grow old along with me"and "He's sure the boy." Vil­lage res­i­dents have put on the re­vue every sec­ond April since 1970.

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