One hundred years ago Captain William Avery Bishop received the British Empire's highest decoration for valour, the Victoria Cross. To mark the occasion, Owen Sound's Roxy Theatre is presenting Billy Bishop Goes to War, an award-winning Canadian classic about our hometown hero, on June 15,16 and 17.

Matt Evans plays Billy Bishop and at least a dozen other characters in  a production that has only one other person on the stage – the Piano Man. While Evans is now a professional screen actor and is very familiar to local audiences for his many roles in Owen Sound Little Theatre productions, he had never thought of acting until he was Billy Bishop on the Roxy stage.

In an interview, Evans says he was attracted to the historical character of Billy Bishop, and the more he read about the man, the more he could relate. "Here is a young guy with no particular options in 1917, so he joins up and truly finds his talent." Although Bishop's fame is rooted in his record as a flying-ace, the script is not so much about war, but about a real man from Owen Sound,Billy-Bishop Ontario in extraordinary circumstances - "from a failing Royal Military College student to the toast of an empire".
Evans has read the story of his own grandfather who was an early conscientious objector in World War I, and recognizes that each man brings what he can - his own history and values - to the situation in which he finds himself.

The play is framed and set in time by the music. The New York Times said "The score is filled with vintage replicas of the kind of songs that sent men rushing in—and out—of battle. There are martial airs, barracks room ditties, Kipling-esque tunes of glory, Gilbert and Sullivan-like patter songs and also a bitter brew of Brecht-Weill."

The Roxy producers say they are thrilled to have the talent and expertise of musician Michael Mulrooney. He has served as musical director, conductor and/or pianist on nearly 200 productions, frequently contributing arrangements or original music as well. Mulrooney first performed in Billy Bishop Goes to War in Grand Bend in 1984, and has revisited it many times since then, and he is particularly chuffed about being able to do this show in Bishop's hometown for this auspicious anniversary.

Written and composed by John MacLachlan Gray and Eric Peterson, Billy Bishop Goes to War won the Governor General's Literary Award for Drama and was at one time the most produced musical in North America. The Roxy is delighted to welcome Billy Bishop's granddaughter, Diana Bishop, to the performance. Diana is the author of Living Up to a Legend, a biography about life with a grandfather who is an international legend.

For ticket and information call the Roxy at 519-371-2833 or on their website



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