Markham Little Theatre's Waiting For The Parade
sure to bring a smile and a tear
article and photos by Grant Weaver, GuidingStar.ca
The Cast of Waiting For The Parade
Julia Guthrie, Michèle Browne, Kate O’Hearn, Carol LeBreton and
(Aug. 29, 2008) Markham
Little Theatre kicks off its 2008-09 season with Waiting For The
Parade, a play written by John Murrell.
Running September 17-20 at Markham Theatre For Performing Arts,
this unique work features a cast of five women and is set in Canada during World War II.
The story’s five women have all been affected by the war,
each in a different way. Waiting
For The Parade is alternately dramatic, poignant and funny, and
also features some of the great songs made popular during the war
Murrell was born in Texas in 1945, came to Canada in the 1960’s to
avoid the draft, and the Vietnam war, and has become one of our
For The Parade is on Markham Little Theatre’s playbill for the
second time. Eric Newton
was producer when MLT staged the show twenty-four years ago and is
delighted to be reprising it this year as director.
important link to the 1984 production is actress Michèle Browne who
played the young Catherine and returns this year in the role of the
audience truly enjoyed the show, especially the older patrons,” she
told us, speaking of the first production.
“It brought them back so much.”
asked Eric how he anticipated an audience of 2008, virtually a
generation later, would respond to the play.
He feels that the war in Afghanistan, and seeing Canadian
soldiers dying there, will give it a special poignancy to today’s
Second World War,” Eric continued, “men may have had their tales
of heroism in battle but the women who remained at home told the tales
of getting by, and what it takes to both get by and succeed on the
First produced in 1977 by Albert Theatre Projects who had commissioned
John Murrell to write a Canadian history play, Waiting For The
Parade is set in Calgary where five women respond in their own way
to the challenges of life during wartime.
There is Catherine whose husband is overseas.
She takes work in a canteen and ends up getting involved with
another man. Margaret is
a generation older and has one son fighting in Europe and another who
joins the Communist party. Always
the pessimist, she believes she will lose them both.
There is Janet who becomes aggressive in her patriotism and her
volunteerism in order to mask the unease she feels from the fact that
her husband has avoided active service with his supposedly essential
work giving the news on CBC radio.
Eve, a young school teacher, is distressed to see her students
cut short their education to enlist and yet is married to
a man who espouses the militaristic feelings she deplores.
Marta, an immigrant from Germany, came to Canada as a mere
child and yet now must cope with her father being interned as a spy.
Let’s meet the rest of the cast.
Catherine is played by Kate O’Hearn who is in her first production
with Markham Little Theatre. Kate
grew up in Sudbury and appeared in productions, through the Sudbury
Theatre Centre, such as Carousel and Annie Get Your Gun.
She studied theatre arts at Laurentian University and then at
York University. After
taking a break from theatre to focus on the home front, she and her
family are now settled in Stouffville.
Kate was anxious to get back to acting and, this summer, saw
MLT’s audition call for Waiting For The Parade, a play she
had studied in high school back in Sudbury! The timing was perfect and she was thrilled to land the role
“Catherine is a very brave woman, a very strong woman,” Kate told
us. “I can relate to
her on many levels, and on the ones where I can’t ... well, that’s
what acting is all about.”
Barbara Clifford plays Janet. Barbara
has been involved behind the scenes in a number of MLT productions but
is stepping onto the stage with the company for the first time in ten
years. She has also
performed with a dinner
theatre in Whitby, with East Side Players and in Scarborough.
Like all the cast, she has become very attached to the character she
“Janet is misunderstood,” she smiles.
“She’s very committed, takes her job very seriously.
She’s not there to fool around.”
Barbara’s stage versatility is highlighted when, still in character as
Janet, she accompanies on the piano the singing of some popular wartime
The young school teacher, Eve, is interpreted by Carol LeBreton whom
Markham Little Theatre audiences enjoyed last February in Out Of
Sight, Out Of Murder. Carol
has performed since then in Watershed Moments with Stone Circle
Theatre in Pickering.
“Eve is very sweet and innocent,” Carol said.
“She is not tainted by life experiences.”
Eve’s displeasure with the war flows from her own perspective.
“She is passionate about teaching the young people,” Carol
continued. “She is
upset with the war because it is taking all her students away.”
Julia Guthrie, who plays Marta, had a starring role in 2007 in
Markham Little Theatre’s The Long Weekend.
She found time for a small role last Spring in the company’s
production of Over The River And Through The Woods while she
devoted herself to her new theatre studies program at York.
Marta is a challenging role for which Julia had to “acquire” a
German accent. The advent
of war has resulted in the interning of Marta’s father.
She also must bear the brunt of anti-German feeling even though
she has been in Canada since she was a small child.
Michèle Browne, this year's Margaret, told us: “Waiting
For The Parade holds a special place in my heart”.
The 1984 production was one of the first plays Michèle appeared in with Markham
Margaret is an endearing, touching character. Unlike the other
women, who have high hopes that their men will return, she fears and
expects the worst.
Michèle’s husband, Terry Browne, is stage manager.
Terry needs no introduction to our readers. He has filled just about every role there is on the
company’s board over the years and has still found time to wear many
hats, metaphorically or literally speaking, on stage as well.
In the last year, we have seen him in cowboy hat in Outlaw
and in the butler’s uniform in Out Of Sight, Out Of Murder.
Another long time MLT stalwart, Ron Brownsberger has taken on the
producer’s job and is keeping tabs on the budget and set
Director Eric Newton goes back a long way with MLT as well, having
joined the company in 1979, and is currently in his sixth directorial
assignment. He directs
his cast with precision and humour.
GuidingStar.ca appreciated very much the opportunity to attend a
complete rehearsal at MLT’s Backstage venue and to chat extensively
with the director and his cast.
Don’t miss Waiting For The Parade!
It has everything. Playwright
John Murrell has knit a rich tapestry of characters, settings and
circumstances, of dialogue, monologue and music.
And Markham Little Theatre has brought together a richly
For complete show details, click here.
To learn more about Markham Little Theatre, visit