Our friends at StillWaters Productions are re-creating a slice of WWI military musical entertainment this week at the SpringWorks Festival in Stratford. Written by Heather Debling, and directed by Gada Jane, The Maple Leaves tells the story of a soldier seconded to perform with a military troupe of female impersonators in WWI:
1917. Somewhere in France. New recruit Billy Haven arrives eager to kill his first Hun. Instead of picking up a rifle, Billy is ordered to put on a dress and start singing.
Billy is forced to join The Maple Leaves: a group of soldiers who travel all around the front putting on performances to boost morale. His commanding officer is Captain Ashby, the most famous female impersonator on the Western Front. Although initially skeptical of the men’s efforts, a glimpse of trench warfare soon has Billy embracing his new role as ‘Madeline.’
Billy and the other men find refuge in the safe space they’ve created, far away from Jerry’s shells and snipers. But as Billy’s popularity grows, a rivalry develops that threatens the safety of everyone in the group.
As the men grapple with their internal demons and traumatic memories of the front, their illusion of safety crumbles, forcing Billy to determine where his duty truly lies.
The Maple Leaves offers audiences a glimpse into this little known side of Canadian military life. Based on the real-life experiences of groups like The Dumbells, The Maple Leafs, and The Y Emmas, the play juxtaposes the horrors of trench warfare with exuberant performance numbers of WWI favourites such as “Your King and Country Want You,” “If You Were the Only Girl in the World,” and “Mademoiselle from Armentieres.”
What: The Maple Leaves
Where: Factory 163, in Stratford ON — 163 King Street.
When: Wednesday, May 15th at 6PM & Saturday, May 18th at 12 PM.
Tickets: http://www.springworksfestival.ca or 1-888-559-5077.
Audience Advisory: Coarse Language