Mama’s Country Record Collection Blast from the Past

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Thom Currie wrote Mama’s Country Record Collection
Thom Currie has completed year one at Magnus Theatre

Thom Currie wrote Mama’s Country Record Collection
Thom Currie wrote Mama’s Country Record Collection

THUNDER BAY – ENTERTAINMENT – Mama’s Country Record Collection is a blast from the past.  At least it is for Thom Currie, Magnus Theatre’s Artistic Director and the author of the play.

“When I was a kid, we did a road trip every summer.  My brothers and my sister and me would be piled into a Pontiac station wagon at 5:00AM, and we would drive from our home in the suburbs of New York City to a wondrous place called Katrine, Ontario.  Over the 1100 kilometre trip, my mother at the wheel, we would read, talk, snooze and argue.  There was always music on the AM radio.  Mom chose the station, and her preferred driving music was contemporary country and western, because you could sing along.  That, along with chewing gum, would help you stay sane on an 11 hour drive with four kids.”

The play is not about a road trip; Mama’s Country Record Collection is about some of the best country music ever recorded.

“We listened to whatever radio station we could get, and then we’d find another station.  And because we would hear the same songs over and over, we got to know them by heart.  To this day, if one of my siblings utters a line from one of those country songs, we all pick up the melody.”

Decades later, as Currie pursued a career as a theatre artist and playwright, he wanted to figure out a way to capture the charm of that music and put it on the stage, in the form of a play.

“I’ve never liked music revues, you know, where the actors come out and pretend to be iconic artists; if I want to hear Johnny Cash, I will listen to Johnny Cash.  So I tried to come up with a story about this great variety of music, country hits from the 1970s, and recapture the joy that this music brought to me and my family.”

There were several false starts as Currie attempted to write the play.  He moved on to other projects, and it was several years later that the show came back to him.

“Mom passed away in the fall of 2009, and my siblings and I set about to help Dad clean up the house.  There were hundreds and hundreds of vinyl records.  Stacks of them, taller than me.  Four months later, I sat down and wrote Mama’s Country Record Collection.”

The show was an immediate success when it premiered in June 2010, prompting productions across Canada.  Over the years, Mama’s Country Record Collection has been labelled “brilliant” and “startlingly beautiful.” To the playwright, the music is the main attraction.

“It’s a family story, but it’s also a celebration of music, the greatest hits of a great time in country music.  Hits by legends like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller and Glen Campbell.  I guarantee that audiences will sing, stomp and clap along with this show.”

A brand new production runs at Magnus Theatre July 11 to July 22, starring Danny Johnson.  For tickets, call 807-345-5552 or visit www.magnus.on.ca.