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A tale from beyond the grave


If you're from Southwestern Ontario, there's a pretty good chance you have heard of the story of the Donnelly family, Irish immigrants who came to Canada in the mid-19th century to settle in Lucan, mistakenly thinking they were leaving their troubles behind in Ireland. But I'll be willing to bet you've never heard to story told like the cast of VIGILANTE tells at the Grand Theatre.


Photo by Dahlia Katz

None of us can truly know what really happened all those years ago to, or at the hands of, the Donnelly family, but that's part of what has so firmly ensconced the Donnellys in our local lore. In this version of the dark tale, the story is retold to the audience by the ghosts of the Donnellys themselves. From the very first moment, the eerie mood of the show is set, drawing the audience in, grabbing hold of us and not letting go until the final curtain -- It doesn't even matter that we all know how the story ends.


VIGILANTE is a study in contradictions. It is a story of love and hate, of new beginnings and old grudges. It is a story of revenge. It is a story of how far we will go to defend our family's honour and the lengths people will go to avenge a wrong.


Photo by Dahlia Katz

Jan Alexandra Smith (whom you may remember as playing Scrooge in last Christmas' Grand Theatre production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL) shines as the Donnelly matriarch, and the rest of the cast brings extraordinary singing, choreography, and storytelling abilities to the fore, each one simultaneously stepping into the spotlight on his own while forming a strong ensemble cast together as they seamlessly move in and out of their various roles.


The live band on stage brought a Celtic-rock flavour to the show, adding texture and mood to the production without distracting from, but only adding to, the story unfolding on stage. I'll admit it: I was tapping my foot throughout the production!


Photo by Dahlia Katz

Part ghost story, part rock opera and all true theatrical entertainment, VIGILANTE combines a chilling tale with stunning costuming, and eerie visual effects set against the backdrop of an unforgettably haunting score. All in all, an unforgettable experience at The Grand Theatre.


VIGILANTE is a Catalyst Theatre production, and this is its second run at The Grand Theatre. It runs until March 9 on the Spriet Stage. Tickets are available at www.grandtheatre.com or by calling (519) 672-8800.

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