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Around the world performances fundraise for the foodbank

The Country Church Players’ opening act with ‘Black and White’.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
The Country Church Players took a full house audience around the world with a lively and funny mix of familiar comedy, music and dance Saturday night at the Rednersville-Albury Community Church on Rednersville Road.

“Last year, we brought you a celebration of all things Canadian and this year we bring you on a tour around the world,” said emcee, host and performer Karen Sero. “Despite all the problems that exist, our intention is to demonstrate that the world is still a pretty great place, especially when people work and have fun together.”

Audrey Carter, Julie Butler and Marjorie Bedford perform the ‘Drinking Song’

The 12 cast members- five men and seven women – ranging in age from 60 to 90 years, included Leonard Bedford, Marjorie Butler, Eleanor Butler, Julie Butler, Audrey Carter, Ron Carter, Dennis Gill, John Hopkins, Dona Knudsen, Jackie Lisk, Flo MacEachern and Bill Wilson.

The repertoire, which included something for every taste, opened with the full cast performing ‘Black and White’. The evening brought an eclectic mix of music from all around the globe including several comedy routines, a little adult content and some dry humour and included sketches with country-based themes from Morocco, Russia, Italy, Brazil, Trinidad, Ireland, Egypt and Australia.

Sero provided interesting tidbits of information and musical facts which added to the smooth flow of the evening. Beautifully inserted prior to each performance, the nuggets allowed a glimpse into the background and history of the era depicted.

Audience members learned about the Australian outback and how kangaroos can run up to 35 mp/h and can cover a distance of 25 feet in a single leap. “Now how’s that for gas mileage?” said Sero. “Koala’s can sleep up to 18 hours a day and the platypus is an interesting creature with a bill like a duck and tail like a beaver.”

Highlights from the evening’s performances included the ‘Mexican Hat Dance’ with Audrey Carter, Bill Wilson, Dona Knudsen, Leonard Bedford, Marjorie Bedford and Ron Carter along with a little audience participation encouraged by Sero.

Bill Wilson performing ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’

Flo MacEachern and Jackie Lisk sang a gentle version of ‘What a Wonderful World’. Originally sung by Louis Armstrong in 1967, it was intended to bring people of different races together. And Bill Wilson’s compelling version of ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ couldn’t fail to bring a tear to the eye.

Laughter and smiles returned as three brave men – John Hopkins, Leonard Bedford and Ron Carter – donned orange and yellow tutus, and along with Dona Knudsen, performed an hilarious take on Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet.

Costumes were bright, colourful and authentic and the performers were energetic and superbly entertaining, appearing to have a lot of fun along with an appreciative audience.

“When I see you every year here, I look into the audience and I get to see the new faces, the faces that return and I see memories,” said Sero. “I see catching up with coffee at friends’, all sorts of memories. It is a very special connection and it is one that I hope we all share together.”

For the Monty Python fans in the audience, Dennis Gill and John Hopkins performed an hilarious and perfect take on John Cleese’s argument clinic, with assistance from Karen Sero.

“John Cleese is an English actor, screenwriter, producer and co-founder of the Monty Python comedy group. Michael Palin is an English comedian, actor, writer and television producer who was a member of that very same group,” said Sero.

“’He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands’, an American spiritual first published in 1927, became an international top hit in 1957,” said Sero. Exuberantly performed by the full cast, the song concluded the first half of the evening’s performances.

“We have been doing these shows for probably close to 15 years now,” said director Julie Butler. “It’s a small group of people from this church, from Carrying Place church and a couple of people are friends or relatives.”

The second half of the evening’s performances began with an ‘American Medley’.

“Our next song will take you in all directions,” said Sero, “It covers the north, east, south and west.” Yanky Doodle Dandy, California Dreaming, and, of course, New York, New York formed part of the uplifting medley.

Director Julie Butler performs Edith Piaf’s ‘Hymne a L’amour in English and French

Following was a powerful rendition of Edith Piaf’s ‘Hymne a L’amour’, performed in both English and French, by Butler.

The brilliantly engaging performances—18 in total—brought smiles, even a tear or two, as the fast-paced evening of eclectic entertainment buoyed spirits and brought laughs helping ensure everyone went home feeling better than when they arrived.

Other performances included Brazil’s ‘I Go to Rio’, the ‘Drinking Song’ from Germany, Japan’s ‘Three Little Maids’ and Mambo Italiano.

“We perform for charity. In the last four years, we sent the proceeds down to the Storehouse in Wellington,” said Butler. “We just have a lot of fun and it’s fairly unsophisticated. We are amateurs, but we try to put on a really good show for people, singing numbers, comedy numbers. I try to do a different show every year just to keep it fresh and keep people coming back.”

Concluding the night’s performances was a delightful full cast performance of ‘It’s a Small World’.

“Our last song tonight will be a song that never ends,” said Sero. “To all of you, your attendance and your continued support all these years helps us raise the funds to keep our community strong,” said Sero. “What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is actually where we start from.”

The Players got to do it all over again at a second performance at the Trenton United Church on Sunday afternoon.

Net proceeds from the event as well as non-perishable food items collected will be donated to the Storehouse Foodbank in Wellington. A final tally is not yet available, but it is expected the event will bring in around $1,000 for the foodbank. For those wishing to donate or volunteer, the Storehouse Foodbank can be reached at wellingtonfoodbank.org

Dona Knudsen, John Hopkins, Leonard Bedford and Ron Carter with ‘Al-Shoi Ballet’

Seven members of The Country Church Players perform ‘Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)

Dennis Gill, John Hopkins and Leonard Bedford with their take on ‘King Tut’

The entire cast with a rendition of ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’

The cast performing an ‘American Medley’ complete with the Statue of Liberty

The whole cast performing the finale ‘It’s a Small World’.

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