By: Jessica Rose
You might not know the tough-as-nails protagonist of MAGGIE, the much-anticipated new musical premiering on stages in three Canadian provinces this year. However, you’ll undoubtedly know women just like her. A fiery, Scottish matriarch, she’s forced to rely on her strength, sense of humour, and grit to raise three boys in the wake of unthinkable loss.
Set between 1954 and 1976, MAGGIE is a true story that opens on a row of tenement houses in the mining town of Lanark. Featuring music by award-winning Scottish Canadian recording artist Johnny Reid, with Matt Murray and Bob Foster, it’s directed by fellow Scot Mary Francis Moore – the artistic director of Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario where the musical will premiere this month. A working-class mother, the real-life Maggie was Johnny Reid’s granny, but his tribute to her represents so much more. Maggie is an entire generation – not just women, and not just in Scotland – who learned that the promise of opportunity often went hand in hand with saying goodbye.
At the time, when thousands of young people were leaving Scotland to find work in Canada, Australia and beyond, Maggie refused to leave her homeland. “Ach, someone needs tae be here tae put the kettle on,” her character says in the show. “MAGGIE celebrates not only my Gran and her life but also an entire generation of women who fought through some tough times by keeping faith, hope, love, family, friendship and humour close to heart,” says Reid, who was born and raised in Lanark, before immigrating to Canada at the age of 17.
A celebration of friendship, community and the human spirit
MAGGIE is produced in association with Michael Rubinoff, the originating producer of the smash Broadway hit Come from Away. First workshopped as part of Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project, which also incubated Come from Away, it has been a six-year labour of love for all involved.
The show features an 18-member cast including Scottish Canadians Sweeney MacArthur, Adam Stevenson and Jay Davis and British expats Lawrence Libor, Nicola Dawn Brook and Jeremy Legat. Dharma Bizier, who plays the lead role of Maggie, recently opened Johnny Reid’s cross-Canada tour performing selections from the musical for fans across the country. Above all, MAGGIE is a celebration of friendship, community and the human spirit set against a powerful, rousing score. It pays tribute to generations of unsung women who made sacrifices to ensure a better future for their own. You can’t help but see your own mam or gran in Maggie’s story of resilience.
MAGGIE’s world premiere will open at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, on April 19, running until May 6, 2023, before travelling to Prince Edward Island to headline the acclaimed Charlottetown Festival from June 21 to September 2. The show will then head to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for a limited run at The Savoy Theatre from September 28 to October 8.
Join the celebration of music, laughter, and love at www.maggiethemusical.com and hear the music of MAGGIE now on all digital platforms.