Theatre Mirror Reviews - "My Song Lady"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Don Gillis

"My Song Lady"

Reviewed by Don Gillis

"My Song Lady"
Script, Music, and Lyrics by Connie Lemonde
Directed by Tony Annicone
Choreography Kelly Cardin
assisted by Nicole Boucher

Produced by Roxanne Menard
Pianist Rouzan Gevorkian
Sound Paul R. Jacob Video & Sound
Costumes Harlequins, Inc.

Lisa Boisclair, Mike Goudreau, Kelly Cardin, Neil Hunt, Denise Pincince, Sy Yules, Roxanne Menard, Al Esposito, Denise Lamoureau, Nicole Boucher, Matt Majewski, Cadena Yules, Melanie Harnois, Joshua Joseph, John Lincoln, Lindsay McNally, Lauren Spencer, Therese Riley, Therese Bouliane, Katherine Nault, Kathleen Ducharme, Nicholas Panu, Kayla Panu, Melissa Sabella, Leigh Heroux, Matthew Pelland, Kristen Publicover, Lauren MacTavish, Meghan Boisclair, Rachel Gervais, Kaitlyn Lacombe, Nicole Gelinas, Daniele Gelinas, Denise Lamoureau, Michael Paz, Melanie Lise,Megan Gautreau,

My Song Lady is about a child who becomes best friends with her kindergarten teacher. Little Susan is worried and sad because her mother is very sick, and Miss Anne Marie, her teacher (who always seems to have a song to fit the occasion) actually finds a song that helps the child feel better. From that moment on, Susan feels that her teacher is a very dear friend. During the years that follow, many events, sad and happy, occur that bring the two closer and closer together----as a family. The play, which was written by local Woonsocket resident, Connie Lemonde, is filled with songs about faith, hope, love---and just plain fun---ends with all the relatives and friends gathered together for a truly wonderful Thanksgiving reunion.

The play opens as Mother(Susan) Jensen-Lajoie brings her daughter Laura(played by Kathleen Ducharme) to her first day in kindergarten in 1958. After she leaves the classroom (Mother) played by Kelly Cardin sits on an old bench in the hallway and begins to reminisce about her kindergarten days--in that very same classroom!. She recalls (1933) how she was always confused about the alphabet, until teacher, Miss Anne Marie, played by Lisa Boisclair taught her as a younger Susan played by Katherine Nault by using a song, (The Alphabet Song). This was Lisa's first time on stage and she did a creditable performance, both in song and acting! Katherine looked at ease with the part also and her acting was creditable. This scene reminded me of "The King and I", when Miss Anna was teaching the children of Siam, about the world and sang "Getting to Know You". There were 14 young kids in the classroom singing the A.B.C's----communicate..... says schoolteacher Lisa Boisclair.

We find ourselves back to 1958 as Susan continues to reminisce. The day that she was so upset because she could not go visit her grandma. Her mother was sick and she was very worried. It was also a song day, and the kids sang, Mr. Sun , Heidi and Polka, but the high point of the scene was when Susan sang, The Rainbow Song, which was the day she bonded with Anne Marie.

We reminisce again -- its 1938 when young Susan is helping Miss Anne Marie in the classroom. They have a very personal conversation about Anne Marie's life. She finds out that Anne Marie's parents died when she was young and her brother and sister had been adopted. To this day, she is worried about them, since she has no idea where they are----or how they are. This is interrupted by her father (John) played by Mike Goodreau who rushes in to tell Susan that her mother is in the hospital and wants to see her. They leave and Anna Marie ponders on the meaning of suffering...for which she does not find a satisfactory answer...except for her Faith that gives her hope. (Blessed Be The Lord). She then gets the message that Susan's mother has died. FATHER and SUSAN return to see her, in the hope that she will be able to comfort the child and Anne Marie sings a beautiful dedication to the memory of Susan's mother "Good Morning My Child". Lisa has a wonderful voice and touches you with this one!

Act II opens in 1944, when we are reminiscing Susan's 16th birthday party. While the teenagers are having fun they sing "The Birthday Song" and " Sing a Little Song." Susan's finance, Jim (Jensen-Lajoie) played by Neil Hunt), wants her to sing a little song, but since its her birthday, she persuades everyone to sing with her and the teenagers do a spirited dance as well.

John and Anne Marie chat about various things, including Anne Marie's childhood. He finds out that, after her siblings had been adopted, Anne Marie had been very depressed and a blind French Canadian nun, Sr. Marie Du Sacre Coeur played by Therese Bouliane( who is legally blind in real life!), had befriended her and helped her during that trying time. Anne Marie tells John how grateful she is to the nun...and how they have continued to be friends. After everyone leaves, they are alone with Susan...and they stun her with the news that they want to get married. Susan is devastated!. Although she loves Anne Marie, she cannot see how her father can do this to her mother!. They leave her alone ....while Susan prays to her mother( a beautifully executed scene) by Kelly Cardin. (Lullaby Dearest Child!)

She calls her father and Anne Marie, to tell them that she indeed does believe that this is a good thing for all. When Susan retires to her bedroom, her father and Anne Marie sing a love song and dance a waltz. (Susan enters and sings how much Anne Marie means to her father and Anne Marie continues the sentiment of the song(The Anne Marie Waltz).

We are now back to 1950 when Anne Marie and Susan are preparing a Thanksgiving buffet. Father is gone on an errand. When Anne Marie finds out, she wonders if he's up to some trick . Susan tells her it's a secret, but one that she will like. Before the father returns, Susan's financee, Jim (played by Neil Hunt) enters and he wonders what goings on. Neil played his role with a some great comic timing...he loves to eat and has some funny lines about his appetite. When the father returns, he brings Anne Marie's long-lost brother Thomas, played by Sy Yules , her sister Elizabeth, played by Denise Pincince, friends and family , Al Esposito, Elizabeth's husband and her two daughters, Melanie Harnois, and Megan Gautreau and Tom's wife, Claire , Lindsay McNally and their daughter, Cadena Yules.) A few minutes later the doorbell rings....and in walks Sister Marie Du Sacre Coeur played by Therese Bouliane, and her companion nun, Sr. Marie Therese played by Therese Riley. The family is WHOLE again, and her very best friends are with them to share in this great day.(Songs: Bel Ange, Together).

Its 1958 when Susan is awakened from her daydreaming by the sound of children singing. (Mr. Sun). Anne Marie comes looking for her and asks her is she had forgotten about their date to go shopping. Both women start to reminisce and Susan reveals to Anne Marie that she has had a secret name for her since the day the Anne Marie had sung The Rainbow Song to her. Anne Marie is pleasantly surprised to know that Susan had called her MY SONG LADY since that day so long ago!

The children come out for recess and when Laura(played by Katie Ducharme) see her mother, she runs to her, wondering why she's still there. MOTHER explains, Laura then starts to tell her that she is having a really bad day in kindergarten. They listen to her. Then Anne Marie asks the child what they usually do on such bad days. SUSAN answers: "We're going to make it less singing our special song. The show ends with them leaving the hall, hand in hand, singing (that catchy tune I told you about) The Rainbow Song.

The songs in this holiday musical are not only catchy, but if you pay attention to the lyrics, much of it is very beautiful and spiritual. The cast does an excellent job singing and the acting is really much like normal conversation, rather than character development.. But for me, what made this production memorable was that the playwright is a local resident of Woonsocket RI, Connie Lemonde. After the performance, I chatted with her about how long it took her to compose the lyrics and develop the script. She responded, OH...about two years! that is dedication! And it paid off - what a joy to watch and listen to , especially around this holiday season.!

Director, Tony Annicone is to be commended for his talented direction, and overall attention to detail . He rarely disappoints anyone when he directs a show. Tony has been very active in community theatre, and is currently doing this benefit show, plus he is in production for "Wait Until Dark" to be presented by The Community Players of Pawtucket, in February. Kudos to you Tony, and the entire cast!! Happy Thanksgiving!

"My Song Lady" (till 23 November)
28 Monument Square
Woonsocket, Rhode Island
(401) 762-4545

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