SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – On Nov. 7, Harbourfront Theatre remembered the Canadian soldier-entertainers of the First World War, the Dumbells, with “Soldiers of Song.” It was a heart-warming night spent remembering the plight of Canadian soldiers in the First World War.
In particular, it recalled how a talented troupe named the Dumbells were able to make the war’s darkness a little lighter for their fellow fighters by presenting concert parties on the frontlines.
Storyteller Lorne Brown of Ottawa shared stories which told how the Dumbells took the terrors of war, such as deadly gas and incompetent Ross rifles, and turned them into jokes that the soldiers could laugh at for once.
Songs parodying popular tunes of the day and sketches filled with slapstick humour and witty repartee were staples for any Dumbells show, and the audience in Summerside Tuesday evening were treated with a few Dumbells classics by the Jason Wilson Band and actors Jim Armstrong and Andrew Knowlton.
Also during the evening, Summerside’s own George Dalton along with Gerard Gallant of the Lest We Forget Committee and Paul Gallant of the Summerside Legion shared displays in the lobby to honour Island veterans and commemorate Canada’s role at Vimy Ridge.
“The displays provided a great backdrop for the cast’s performance,” Dalton explains. “After the show, the performers met with Paul and I and expressed their deepest gratitude to the theatre staff and the local veterans who gave them such a warm welcome. They have travelled all over the country and have not seen anything like the exhibit we put together.”
“Soldiers of Song: A Tribute to the Dumbells” is travelling across Atlantic Canada as part of the Canada 150 Performance Series supported by the Government of Canada.