As much as Toronto is hailed as the theatre centre of Canada, there aren't really all that many top-ranked productions providing jobs for talented actors and singers.
Which is why some of the best talent in Canada is available for Harvest Moon Rising, which opened last week at Theatre Orangeville.
This musical tribute to farm families and in particular, farm wives, owes much of its success to five superb singer/actresses - Susan Gilmour, Lorraine Foreman, Susan Henley, Leisa Way, and Sherry Garner.
The fact the music is by Leslie Arden, who won two Dora Awards for The House of Martin Guerre at the Canadian Stage Company, doesn't hurt, either.
Gilmour, who starred as Fantine in the Toronto production of Les Misérables (where she met and married that production's Jean Valjean, Michael Burgess), plays Sarah McGregor, who discovers she is about to lose th family farm.
It's enough to make her want to chuck it all and return to the city, except that her farm pals Maggie (Way) and Lillian (Foreman) just won't let her. "We're your friends," says Lillian when Sarah says she wants to be left alone with her problems. "We don't dismiss that easily."
This amiable threesome imparts farm lore, wisdom and wit (along with wonderful vocals) while chatting in the farm yard. "It's amazing what you can survive when you've got no choice," says Lillian. And, "Farmers have culture, too - only we put an 'agri' in front of it..."
The ladies are so very talented you almost forget about Jan Filips as Jack McGregor...
Although it can sometimes be a little relentless in the depiction of the farmer's lot in life, the soaring voices and talents of these people make it a first-rate production.