Buttercup Productions shares the story of Irish immigrants quarantined on Miramichi’s Middle Island during the summer of 1847.
In 2014, Samuel Crowell was approached to create a musical production for Miramichi’s Middle Island Irish Heritage Festival. The resulting project, On The Wind, focuses on the arrival of three ships carrying Irish immigrants and their quarantine on Chatham’s Middle Island during the summer of 1847. This summer, Crowell will present this historically rich New Brunswick production to audiences in Fredericton and Miramichi.
“I worked on a script for roughly a year, researched the history and different Irish tunes,” said Crowell. “It was an intimating project for sure because there is so much history that is so personal to numerous families. I really want to be faithful to the historic elements while making a show that deals with tragic events in such a way that is palatable and engaging. Something that allows people to see that even in bad times you can find some good.”
Crowell formed Buttercup Productions in 2014 to deliver his own rock and roll jukebox musical titled, Hold Me! Thrill Me! Kiss Me! The Musical as a fundraiser for the Miramichi Hospice. It was his work on this production that lead to the creation of On The Wind.
“The company’s name comes from a show I wrote in high school called Buttercup, surrounding a boy who believed that something terrible, like the end of the world, was going to happen,” said Crowell. “It was a dark comedy and a little bizarre but it felt like a real achievement. We took it to the NB drama festival in 2009 and I won a scholarship for St. Thomas University because of it. It will always be a game-changing show for me as far as deciding to try writing bigger shows.”
New Brunswick theatre audiences have enjoyed an increase in touring productions over the past year with groups like Theatre New Brunswick, the Saint John Theatre Company, Hub City Theatre and others taking their work on the road. While Buttercup Productions is still very much a young company compared to others in the province, Crowell decided planning a summer tour would be a great way further integrate into the province’s growing theatre scene.
“I felt I had to stay in Fredericton this summer and try to integrate myself a bit into the theatre scene instead of going home to Miramichi like I typically do,” he said. “I made a happy medium to still perform the full show in Miramichi but rehearse and have a show in Fredericton.
“Touring itself is fairly new to me. This is only my second show that I have toured. The first was a three person play called Semi-Sweetheart that was performed this past February. We rehearsed in Fredericton and performed for one night only in Miramichi. So now moving a 12 person cast and keeping them in Miramichi for five days compared to one day is a completely different feeling. To be honest, I am not as anxious as I thought would be because the cast and crew are all such kind, talented and capable individuals. The support from everyone involved really keeps me motivated and positive about this show.”
On The Wind | July 26th, 2016 | Black Box Theatre, Fredericton | 7:30pm | Tickets at the Door | View Event
On The Wind | July 30th – Aug.1st, 2016 | The Vogue Theatre, Miramichi | 7:30pm (with an additional 2pm on 31st) | Tickets at the Door | View Event