Sixties Girl bands rise again in Canadian première
The West End Times, October 17, 2009
For the first time in Canada, Persephone Productions brings Amanda Whittington's Be My Baby to the Hydro- Québec Studio at the Monument National from October 29 to November 14, 2009.
Set in a small industrial town in 1964, Be My Baby follows 19-year-old Mary Adams,who is seven months pregnant and has been sent to a mother and baby home. Mary and her fellow inmates have to cope with the shame of their pregnancy and the dawning realisation that they must give up their baby for adoption. Despite the daily battles with a no-nonsense Matron in the rigid routine of the Anglican home, the girls 'effervescence shines through as they find comfort in each other's friendship, sharing youthful fantasies of love and marriage.They take courage and solace from the 60s pop music that captures the passionate innocence of the play's characters, providing a bittersweet sound track to a deeply moving story. "These are wonderful, challenging roles for women," said Persephone Artistic Director, Gabrielle Soskin. "I am very passionate about giving women a voice. Even today, we remain for the most part, untapped resources of wisdom and compassion that have the power to bring about great positive changes. Though these girls come from blue-collar backgrounds, are not well educated and face difficult circumstances, their humour, camaraderie and dignity buoy them through. Their bravery and strength are as admirable and useful to the issues we face today as they were 50 years ago." Nowadays adoption, and the laws and attitudes surrounding it, is still a provocative subject, as seen in the recent Montreal Gazette article published October 7, 2009.
"But", continues Soskin, "even though the subject matter is serious, there is an unmistakeable light-hearted quality to the work, derived mostly from the 60s music of The Ronettes, The Dixie Cups and more."
The cast of young mothers-to- be is made up of West Islander Dawson graduate, Stevie Pemberton (as Mary Adams), Eastern Townshipper and John Abbott graduate, Amanda Margelony (as Norma), Hudson resident, Aim&EACUTE;e Ambroziak, a Concordia graduate who has appeared in Repercussion and Table D'H&OCIRC;te productions as well as various TV and film projects (as the street-wise Queenie), and Jenessa Grant, originally from Alberta and another John Abbott graduate, as Dolores. The Matron of the facility who, though strict, believes she is doing what is best for the girls and their unborn children, is played by Sandy Ferguson, familiar to Montrealers for her roles in Hudson Village Theatre, Lakeshore Players' and Hudson Music Club productions. Nadia Verrucci, (Carmela's Table, Centaur Theatre) is Mary's mother, a fragile woman torn by her desire to have a grandchild yet determined to protect her daughter from the shame of unmarried pregnancy.
Providing a springboard for new artists is the mandate of Persephone Productions, applying to both actor and designer. Melanie Michaud, a John Abbott graduate who just returned from her second summer at the Banff Centre for the Arts, co-designs the set and costumes. Alycia O'Keefe provides the integral sound design, her first professional gig since graduating from John Abbott last spring. Korean-born Mee Youn, a Concordia Theatre alumnus, returns to Persephone to co-create the set and lighting design, after her acclaimed work for the spring production of ,Cherry Docs. Serena Selby, another John Abbott graduate, stage manages and Gabrielle mentors her apprentice, In Nam, in his first professional presentation since arriving in Canada from Korea. Veteran Rob Denton acts as helmsman for the whole design/technical team. "It's a woman's show", winks Gabrielle. "Rob and I are the only males on the team…heaven help them!"