SUMMERSIDE – "Extraordinary (The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Woman)," presented by Young at Heart Musical Theatre for Seniors Inc., comes to the Harbourfront Theatre for a special matinee performance Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m.
Written by Jim Betts, and starring Glenda Landry and April Cook, ‘Extraordinary’ is the moving musical story of a woman who decides to celebrate her 90th birthday in a unique way. Born during the First World War, married after the Second World War, then a wife and mother in the 1950s and ‘60s, she was among the millions of women of her era who were rarely encouraged to challenge themselves in the wider community.
But against all odds, this woman became extraordinary. Not, perhaps, in obvious ways, but extraordinary nonetheless. Surprisingly, she never realized at the time how extraordinary a woman she had become.
Perhaps now, however, at 90, she can finally come to realize what she has in fact accomplished. In order to help her put her life into perspective, she invites a special person to her 90th birthday party. She invites her 18-year-old self.
It is often easy to contrast the dreams of an 18-year-old with the realities of the same person’s life seen in retrospect some 70 years later. When her young self begins to understand whose party she’s at, and how different her future life became in comparison to what she thought it might be, there are recriminations, accusations, disappointments.
But when the truth starts to be revealed, there is instead respect, amazement and celebration as she realizes that, against all odds, this woman – a wife and mother of the ‘50s and ‘60s - became extraordinary. Quietly, unobtrusively, invisibly – she managed to change the world.
Extraordinary will resonate with anyone who has come to believe that they will never become the person they set out to be.
Writer Jim Betts was at first nervous about whether this show would have a universal appeal, because he wrote the show to celebrate the 90th birthday of his own mother. He wove the details of his mother’s life into the fabric of “Extraordinary,” and he worried that the specifics of her accomplishments might not necessarily resonate in others. What he discovered, however, was what writers often hear about but rarely necessarily experience – a piece where the universality of common experience is born from the specific details on an individual experience.
Through beautiful music, heartwarming humour and poignant moments, we are reminded that there is a power and importance to every life, that age is not a factor in one’s ability to contribute, and that we are all – in our own ways – Extraordinary.
Tickets are now on sale at the Harbourfront Theatre box office and www.harbourfronttheatre.com.