Brendan McLeod and the Fugitives are bringing their musical theatre show Ridge to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. (Submitted photo)

Folk-roots group bringing sounds from the trenches to Vernon

Ridge, a musical theatre show by The Fugitives, will play in Vernon on Nov. 5

Just in time for Remembrance Day, a tribute to the lives lost during one of Canada’s most famous battles is coming to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (VDPAC).

Brendan McLeod and The Fugitives honour those who fell at the Battle of Vimy Ridge by bringing the words and songs of First World War soldiers back to life in their musical theatre show Ridge.

The Fugitives will play the VDPAC Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. as the second performance of the 2022-23 SPOTLIGHT Theatre Series.

Ridge delves into difficult but necessary questions about grief. A vivid, kinetic ride through history as well as an intimate, personal examination of connections to the past, Ridge is a visceral work that passionately argues against the exploitation of young lives.

Long regarded as the battle that made Canada, more than 10,000 Canadian casualties were suffered at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, including the worst single day of Canadian casualties in all of the First World War.

McLeod and The Fugitives examine the battle and the lives of those lost through storytelling, spoken word poetry and a soundtrack of vividly re-imagined First World War trench songs.

Written by frontline soldiers during the First World War, trench songs were essentially protest songs and were often parodies of well known tunes. The Fugitives have rewritten new melodies and music for these words so that they better resonate with a modern audience, continuing folk music’s long tradition of reshaping songs over time.

Familiar tunes and folk-roots classics take on new weight and meaning, from aching bluegrass hymns to a resplendent and mournful rendition of Take Me Back to Old Ontario, and the Celtic-inspired Donegal with lyrics drawn from the great Irish war poet Patrick MacGill’s Lament from the Trenches.

“The music is what makes this show so powerful. The lyrics are wrenching and emotionally raw, but also funny and heartfelt.” said VDPAC artistic director Erin Kennedy. “Ridge is not a documentary of war facts, it is a deeply moving piece of musical theatre that humanizes the lives of the soldiers, many of whom were children.”

A folk collective headed by songwriters McLeod and Adrian Glynn, The Fugitives have toured extensively throughout Canada, Western Europe and the U.K. They are joined by Chris Suen on the banjo and Carly Frey on the violin. Over the past 12 years they’ve earned a reputation for memorable live shows brimming with complex harmonies, infectious storytelling and superb musicianship.

Ridge was a Globe and Mail Top Arts Pick of 2020 and its companion album was nominated for a Juno Award for Traditional Roots Album of the Year in 2022, as well as for two Canadian Folk Music Awards – Ensemble of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year.

For tickets, visit ticketseller.ca.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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