Park that misconception

The actual facts have clouded out an intriguing bit of urban myth about the Tom Thomson-themed musical at the Grand Theatre.

Speaking with conviction, a friend who had seen and enjoyed Colours In The Storm, reported the screen on which images are projected was shaped like the boundaries of Algonquin Park. Since Jim Betts’ telling of the Thomson tale is set in the iconic Ontario park, it seemed a subtle way of touching the audience’s collective subconscious. Even better, the friend said the Algonquin outline did not seem to be discussed anywhere. Wow. A secret shape right out in the open. Storm of revelation alert!

Colours in the Storm
Tim Funnel and Jay Davis in Colours in the Storm. Photo by Claus Andersen, via grand

Sigh. Deflation. There is a good reason the shape is not discussed in a park-like way. I’ve found out it’s not supposed to represent the Algonquin Park outline. At all.

Instead, think of it as a big cloud-shaped mass (or artist’s palette) when gazing at the colours and other beauty projected on this screen behind and above the actors. True, it is immediately more like Algonquin than rectangular screens used in other productions, but just coincidence, apparently.

My friend also said the costumes hues and tones in Colours In The Storm were obviously chosen to suggest those which Thomson chose in his paintings. I like this idea and it makes me more excited to check it out. I don’t mind this storm warning! 

Jay Davis painting. Photo by Claus Andersen, via grand

Also, I’m delighted to report that Ma-Anne Dionisio (who plays Winnie Trainor, one of the Storm women drawn to Jay Davis’s Thomson) has been in TV’s best show playing a character also in need of the patience (to deal with the demands of an artist that is). Dionisio has been a Jazzagal on Schitt’s Creek. Therefore, figuring out Tom Thomson would be a walk in the park after enduring the tempestuous musical colours of Schitt’s Creek diva Moira Rose (Catherine O’Hara).

More colourful talk

With the book, music, and lyrics by Jim Betts, Colours in the Storm traces Thomson’s artistic evolution from his arrival at Algonquin Park in 1912 until his mysterious death in 1917. It was in this place of rugged beauty that he created such iconic paintings as “Northern River” (1915) and “The Jack Pine” (1916-17) that would spark a revolution in Canadian art. Betts musical masterpiece covers this series of events with a special added twist of song, sweetness, and, of course, colour.

tom thomson jack pine
“The Jack Pine” (1916-17) by Tom Thomson. Photo via Wikipedia

Colours In The Storm continues at The Grand Theatre (471 Richmond St.) on the Spriet Stage until May 6 with director Heather Davies directs. Find out more about tickets right here.

Don’t miss: Brian Meehan (Museum London ED and Chief Curator) and LondonFuse Contributor James Stewart Reaney discuss Thomson and the Betts musical before the matinee showing on May 3rd. The talk will start at the front of the stage, at about noon on Wednesday, May 3. Visit for details.

James Stewart Reaney keeps James’s Brander Newer Blogger at as part of his volunteerism and reverence for London A&E. He recently retired from The London Free Press after more than 30 years covering everything from A — The Alcohollys — to B: baseball’s 1986 World Series. Follow his Twitter #ldnont thoughts via @JamesSReaney

Feature photo via Wikipedia



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