Lynden revue still crazy after all these years
In a tiny community, a great tradition struggles to survive against changing demographics
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
“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.