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Port Perry, 1949

Updated: Feb 9, 2023


Local theatre has always been something I have enjoyed. Not because it is a short drive home afterward but because the talent in our community never ceases to amaze me.


I had the pleasure of attending the current Borelians production, entitled ‘Live from Port Perry Town Hall, 1949’. I was unsure what to expect, other than 1949 was the year of the massive snowstorm, the likes of which we have never seen since.

I was not disappointed. The story is about three very popular radio plays from the nineteen forties, being produced in the Port Perry Town Hall of 1949. The setting, albeit familiar, was hilarious, largely due to the performances.

Chris Cole played the lead, and he was amazing. Graeme Powell, who is an established actor in this area, pulled off a fantastic British accent, and our own Howard Linscott had me in stitches.

The play was produced by Carolyn Goff, who is certainly not new to the stage. Her portrayal of Maggie, in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a few years ago, was outstanding. Her nearly three dozen film and television roles include ‘The Border,’ ‘Loser,’ and, more recently, ‘The House.’

The play was written and directed by, the very talented, Bill Baker. When he was eight, his father sat him down and explained how radio was the main entertainment for the previous generation. He promptly put a record on the family hi-fi, and Bill was mesmerized by the serials of the ‘Lone Ranger,’ ‘Superman,’ and, of course, ‘The Shadow.’ Bill was hooked, and the experience was always in the back of his mind. When the opportunity, to write a play around radio shows, arose, he jumped at the chance.

In ‘Live from Port Perry, ’ Bill takes us back in time and introduces (or, in some cases, re-introduces) us to ‘Fibber McGee,’ ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ and ‘The Great Gildersleeve.’ Each of these productions was entertaining and quite hilarious.

The audience becomes fully immersed in the show, which adds to the positive experience. The town of Port Perry is an excellent backdrop, and references to some of the locations are memorable. They even mention Gerrow’s Bakery, one of the town’s institutions.

If you have a chance to catch the performance this weekend, I would recommend it. You will laugh out loud and reminisce about days gone by.

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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