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Songbird enjoying life on the farm


By Angela Blackburn
Toronto Star

Susan Gilmour Les Misérables star Susan Gilmour of Mississauga is right at home, down on the farm.

She says she's happy to be headlining Theatre Orangeville's new musical production, Harvest Moon Rising which opened Thursday and runs to June 11.

This story rooted in the plight of Canadian farmers, is about "the women behind the men behind the plows," said Gilmour.

It's a poignant story about a family about to lose the farm and how the community rallies," said the star, an Erin Mills resident.

It's about friendship and hope, and about keeping a sense of humor when everything is falling apart."

To Gilmour who is married to famed Canadian tenor Michael Burgess, many of the folks involved in this presentation of Harvest Moon Rising are old friends.

Meanwhile, she says she's touched by the plight of Canada's farming community because her great-grandparents settled on an Alberta homestead.

"I have some great memories of the farm," said Gilmour. "I honestly don't think I'd be who I am - The type of person I am and the things that matter to me - if I didn't," Gilmour said.

Gilmour said the Harvest Moon Rising script, penned by Peggy Sample, is brilliant.

Playing the role of Sarah, the farmer's wife, Gilmour leads a predominantly female cast.

"It's about family, though," she said. "It's the women telling the tale."

The audience learns of the family's plight as her friends rally around her. And, all her friends have their own stories to reveal.

Sarah appears in modern day scenes amid a series of flashbacks that compare farming life in 1850's Ontario to today.

Harvest Moon Rising was scored by Leslie Arden, the creator of the Children's Trio that recently performed Rumpelstiltskin at the Living Arts Centre (LAC).

Meanwhile, on other stages, Gilmour has starred in mega-hits like Man of La Mancha, Oliver, Evita, Anne of Green Gables and Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

Of course, she played Fantine in Les Miz on stages from Hong Kong and Korea, to South Africa - and most recently at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre opposite Colm Wilkinson...