Gander native draws inspiration from 9-11

Nicholas Mercer
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Burry adds musical numbers and dance steps to play about tragedy

The actions the people of Gander took on Sept. 11, 2001 have been the subject of much discussion.

GETTING IT RIGHT – From left, Anthony Fushell, Michael Power, and Dean Burry go over one of the musical numbers from the Mr. Burry’s play Beacon of Light. Mr. Power plays an air traffic control officer in the play.

The whole story

When Mr. Burry told people of his desire to write a musical about 9-11, he was met with some questioning looks.

“People said, really you’re going to write a Broadway musical about 9-11,” he said. “What are you going to have tap dancing al-Qaida?”

Mr. Burry recognizes the challenges surrounding a musical production, but it will not change the meaning of the play.

While there is a strong message to the play, according to Mr. Burry, it is not the main focus.

“First and foremost it is a good story,” he said. “It is both meaningful and entertaining.

“It’s more of  a character study about what happens when all of these different people get brought together, all of these people who never thought they would be together get brought together in this place.”

Mr. Burry said it connects with people from both Gander and the United States, which was one of the focuses in the writing process.

“It was important to not make it a story that only Gander residents would be interested in seeing,” he said. “That was something very important for me.”

Mr. Burry said the world has been captivated by the story of 9-11.

He, himself, has been contacted by Arabic news outlet al-Jazeera in both Canada and Qatar to do stories on Beacon of Light.

“It is absolutely a tribute to those who helped,” said Mr. Burry. “The musical really connects with people in Gander with people in New York.”

Beacon of Light is currently showing at Rising Tide Theatre in Trinity.

It finishes its run there Sunday, Sept. 4.

When that finishes, the play will be showed for two days, Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, at the Joseph R. Smallwood Arts and Culture Centre in Gander, as a part of the a month long tribute to 9-11.

“Its a little bit of a love letter to the town I grew up in.” Dean Burry

It is something that Mr. Burry holds close to his heart.

“It’s very special,” he said. “It’s a big thing, there are probably going to be a lot of people back. I know a lot of people who were stranded here in 2001 frequently come back.

“It’s a big thing.”

Mr. Burry feels a bit of pressure with the showing,

“It’s nerve-racking,” he said. “Exciting, but nerve-racking. The audience are the people who lived that story.”

Brian Dove is the regional manager for the arts and culture centre.

He said it is a great thing to put off a great show done by a Gander native.

“You can’t get much more involved than all of that,” said Mr. Dove.

Mr. Dove said the show is very powerful.

“Some scenes in it, particularly the beginning and the end, are very emotional, powerful type scenes,” he said.

It is a good indication of the feeling that was involved with the people of Gander looking after all of these strangers.

“I think it’s a great show.”

When asked about what people in Gander can expect to see in the play, Mr. Burry said they can expect something funny and upbeat, but also a meaningful portrayal of the importance of the actions taken by Gander residents during 9-11.

“Although there are certainly moments of darkness in the piece, for the most part it is a celebration of what’s good in humanity.”

 nmercer@ganderbeacon.ca

Organizations: Rising Tide Theatre, Gander International Airport, Al-Qaida Al-Jazeera

Geographic location: Gander, Trinity, Newfoundland New York Glenwood Toronto, Ont Broadway United States Canada Qatar

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