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New in 2018: I Come from the Valley! Times and Tales of Joan Finnigan

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Stone Fence Theatre presents a new musical in 2018 - I Come from the Valley! Times and Tales of Joan Finnigan, by Ish Theilheimer, with Johanna Zomers.

This all-new musical brings to life the stories that the Valley's illustrious author, Joan Finnigan, collected from Valley old-timers as well as the tumultuous times she lived through. Joan was the daughter of one of the NHL's first super-stars, Frank Finnigan, and she was raised in Roaring Twenties Ottawa. Her parents came from Shawville, which was her second home as a child, and there she absorbed the Valley's story-telling tradition.

When, in the mid-'60s, she suddenly became a single mother of three, she rejected all sensible options and set out to raise them on what she could earn as a freelance writer. She had a huge success with the script she wrote for NFB film Best Damned Fiddler from Calabogie to Kaladar, which became Canada's Film of the Year.

Joan quickly became a Canadian literary celebrity in the '70s but turned from that to focus on what really drove her - collecting oral histories from the Valley's old-timers before their stories died with them. Always outspoken and often controversial, Joan, herself, was a legend. The play follows her life and work in story and song - most of the songs set to traditional Celtic tunes in light of Joan's Irish roots. Playwright Ish Theilheimer and his songwriting collaborator Johanna Zomers are both great admirers of Joan Finnigan's, and Joan was a big supporter of Stone Fence Theatre, which is producing the show and touring with it throughout the Valley.

The show's music is Celtic and Irish in flavour, with most of the songs based on traditional songs. Musical accompaniment is by the Donohue Family of Douglas - Aidan (17), Mhari (15), Hannah (13), Kieran (10), and their mother Siobheann, who is a member of Lakefield, Ontario's famous Leahy family. All are multi-instrumentalists and born show people.

Stone Fence Theatre favourite Fran Pinkerton assumes the title role of Joan Finnigan and is supported by a talented cast of Stone Fence Theatre veterans and new faces.

Eighteen performances are planned, with five summer supper shows in Rankin and one in Barrys Bay. In fall, there will be performances in Westmeath, Eganville, Renfrew, Deep River, Carleton Place, Rankin, Sheenboro, Shawville, Ottawa, Kingston, and Killaloe, all places that Joan knew and loved.

Tickets go on sale in May.

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