I was fortunate to be able to attend the opening night of this play. There was a ‘Press Junket’ before the show. I had never attended one of these and it sounded very fancy and official, but unfortunately, we were running late right from the start, and we arrived just as it was over. I would like to have worn something appropriately ‘press junket worthy’, but sadly I missed my first opportunity to wear a fedora and carry a flip-notebook. I could even have gone a totally different way and said I was ‘Trent Crimm for The Independent’. I know, I can be such a child, but I was disappointed that I missed this and so I’m just having a bit of fun.
We had a wonderful dinner, and I was very excited about the show. I admittedly have not read or seen much of W.O. Mitchell, so I tried to get a copy of ‘Who has seen the Wind’, but I wasn’t able to get my hands on one. There are many other W.O. Mitchell works to choose from, but life got in the way, and I was only able to do a little research online before attending the show. How could I possibly have been so oblivious to this prolific author, entertainer? I was going to blame my upbringing, as I grew up in the Metropolitan Toronto area, but then I discovered that he had spent time in Toronto serving as editor for Maclean’s magazine. It was while he lived in Toronto that he created Jake and the Kid, a weekly CBC radio series which ran from 1950 until 1956. Admittedly, this was before my time (born in 1956), but I still can’t help feeling that I missed out.
It was mentioned in the printed program, that we would get to meet W.O Mitchell through his characters and stories and that is exactly what happened. Nathan Schmidt was brilliant in his portrayal of a man in his late seventies, regaling the audience with his stories. Never having met the real Mitchell, it was as if the was the original delivering his own words.
Normally I mention the people responsible for costumes, sets, lighting, sound and all the people behind the scenes who help make the magic happen. The floor of the stage was stunning, but other than that everything else tended to fall away, and we were held in a trance by the words of this brilliant man. In a well performed one man show such as this, the performer tends to have our unwavering attention. This was just pure joy. Some of the stories made us laugh out loud and others were just so transporting and entertaining, I’m not even sure of the right words. If the goal was for us to get a glimpse of the man, the characters he created and a few of his works, then this was a success. But it did more than that. It created a hunger for more. I want to listen to recordings of his shows, and I want to read his books. The overall experience was joyous. I just felt happy and privileged to see a wonderful representation of such a national treasure.