Profile of Andy Barker

Our man, Ged Columns I have written about the Grand Falls, people and events of years gone by quite often provoke the greatest comments, and the most positive reaction from readers. People, undoubtedly, love to have their memories stroked, rekindled and reawakened. On June 10,our man Ged Blackmore socked it to us with memories and history in his musical history of our town, Out of the Forest. Ged's sense of history was no doubt influenced by the fine stock of Blackmore brothers - his father and four uncles - who came from Glenwood in the early years to work at the mill in Grand Falls. The Blackmores of Grand Falls became renowned for being able to split you into or split you up with laughter, good stories, and witty, quick jabs. As well, Ged's father Mike, and his Uncle Walter made and recorded our history with the launch of The Grand Falls Advertiser on April 8,1936. Ged's mother, Laura, the editor of that paper for 30 years, was a force to be reckoned with. Besides a sense of history and humour, Ged also comes with a long list of credentials for writing, composing and directing. On the short list is the opening of the 1999 Canada Winter Games in Corner Brook, and the Folk of the Sea show that sprung up after the cod moratorium. However, a personal favourite of mine was Ged's rendition of Robin Hood he directed for St. Michael's High School in 1993. I served two terms (1977-81,81-85) on the Grand Falls Town Council and in the second term, I suggested two names for streets; Pinsent after Gordon, and Edwards after Charlie. I also suggested a name for the park on Church Road, Crowe Park, to honour the unsung hero of the founding of Grand Falls in 1905, Harry Judson Crowe. Crowe Park never flew. However, my deepest regret to this day was not to do my part to honour a most deserving family name in our town, Blackmore. The present town council or the new one in the fall should right that embarrassing oversight. Back to the show. Out of the Forest may never have hit the stage, or rather the stadium floor, if not for the insistence of the chair of the Centennial Committee, Paul Hennessey. As a member of that committee, I know that our meetings had hardly started (March 2003) when Paul began saying, "We've got to have a musical." And he knew the guy to do it - Ged Blackmore. Yours truly has a small role in the show, knowing full well that it is a truism that there are no small roles, only small people. Small role or big, I did not want to do it when Ged first asked. It seemed too daunting a task. My only experience in a stage production was in a non-speaking part in an one-act play in high school. Obviously, I changed my mind due to do no small measure of insistence by my spouse, Dianne, who is the narrator of the show for three of the five productions. But I am not alone as a first timer on stage. Many others can relate how they got involved in the production. It is the biggest crew of amateurs you will see together for some time to come, anywhere. Having been asked by Ged to read the script to help check for historical accuracies, I knew what the show was all about. But I had no idea of the immensity of the of the show - the costumes, set design, lighting, painting, construction, and numerous people on and off stage until we started rehearsal. It was awesome to see and feel the spirit, intensity and commitment of all those involved. As well the age range, around six to nearly 90,is phenomenal. In 1910, Grand Falls became the home of a pipe fitter, one Michael Shallow (1874-1948). Shallow (from Fermeuse) had been the British Empire's heavyweight boxing champ. He put more than one fellow on the canvas with a knock out punch. Ged Blackmore would be the last person in the world you would expect to be sporting a pair of boxing gloves - at least in the heavyweight division. But his ideas, his music, his creativity and his directing skills in Out of the Forest makes him a heavyweight, second to none, who will floor you. Actually, if the opening night show is any indication, he won't floor you at all. He will bring a tear to your eye, laughter to heart, and a spirited desire to be on floor yourself. I am proud to be in the show and play the part of Louie John, my grandfather, whom I dearly loved. I am proud of the all actors, singers, dancers, crew, managers and every last person who had a hand in bringing the show into being. And we all know as we look around that amongst the lot of us there are special clusters of people and individuals who are doing so much to make the show an outstanding success. I am proud of Paul Hennessey's idea. But I am truly proud of own man, Ged.

All articles of Andy Barker

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