Ontario Mennonite Music Camp explores ‘pride and prejudice’

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September 9, 2015 | Artbeat | Volume 19 Issue 18
Dave Rogalsky, Eastern Canada Correspondent
<p>Laura Bruno (Eliza Doolittle), Josh Neufeldt (Henry Higgins), Kate Strathdee (Eliza Doolittle), and Ben Thiessen (Colonel Hugh Pickering) perform in My Fair Lady. At music camp roles are often shared and at this point the two Elizas were changing places. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)</p>

When Linnea Thacker suggested to her co-director of Ontario Mennonite Music Camp, Elizabeth Rogalsky Lepock, that they perform a shortened version of My Fair Lady as the musical at the camp’s closing program, Lepock wondered at its non-religious content. In other years the camp performed Fiddler on the Roof, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, exploring faith issues with the campers. But a focus in the musical on the deep prejudice on the part of professor Henry Higgins, who grows out of his hubris, led to much learning about attitudes and ‘isms’ of many kinds. An example was when Rick Cober Bauman, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, came to teach campers about settler/aboriginal relations.

The closing program on Aug. 28 at Conrad Grebel University College, which sponsors and hosts the two-week residential camp, included instrumental and voice performances by all the campers, as well as an 80-minute version of My Fair Lady. Josh Neufeldt, who played Higgins, noted that while he enjoyed watching Rex Harrison play the role in the movie, he came to hate the character as he constantly put down Eliza Doolittle, a woman with a strong cockney accent.

Laura Bruno (Eliza Doolittle), Josh Neufeldt (Henry Higgins), Kate Strathdee (Eliza Doolittle), and Ben Thiessen (Colonel Hugh Pickering) perform in My Fair Lady. At music camp roles are often shared and at this point the two Elizas were changing places. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

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