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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
History comes alive with theatrical cemetery tours at St. Andrew’s Church

Theatrical cemetery tours held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church are bringing the unsung heroes of Niagara-on-the-Lake to life.

Presented by Niagara Historical Society and Museum, the theatrical cemetery tour has returned to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for the second year in a row. In previous years, tours were held at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

The tour was written and directed by Barbara “Babs” Worthy. Each performance is about an hour long and features several vignettes describing the life and accomplishments of local people, all who are buried at the cemetery.

“These people lived and walked and talked,” Worthy said. “And they’re often the unsung heroes of a community, people you’ve never heard before but they were the nuts and bolts of this community. That’s what gave this community life.”

Most of the historic events, shown at the tour, are factually correct although some storylines, such as one about Rachel Rutherford — who came to America fleeing Ireland’s Great Famine — had a “dramatic license” added to them.

“What was it like for a young Irish girl to come over? I made up her story based on what we know … and what it must’ve been like for her,” Worthy said.

She praised the team of volunteer actors who have spent weeks rehearsing, as well as a team of production assistants who has been helping with lighting and costumes.

“Very willing, wonderful people to work with, all have a sense of humour,” Worthy said. “And who love bringing these people alive.”

When it comes to incorporating humour into the vignettes, Worthy said it’s really important as it helps the audience to have a good laugh and walk away from the tour remembering the stories.

Actor Geoff Senson, who played Willie Blain, whose grave at the cemetery was robbed, said he always gets nervous before the performance. But, “it’s a lot of fun,” he added.

“A lot of effort but worth one,” he told The Lake Report.

Next tour will take place Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28. Tickets cost $12 with performances starting at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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