Actor and writer Allan Merovitz has a deep affection for Canadian people and places.
Though he’s more experienced than elderly, he considers himself an “old man of Canadian theatre” and has performed in shows from coast to coast.
But the lively Smiths Falls native is in the midst of a homecoming — both physically and mentally — with the staging of his latest show If Cows Could Fly, running now at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.
“It’s been an amazing experience here. I’ve had old schoolmates from Smiths Falls come up to me, and people I know from Kemptville and Perth coming out of the woodwork,” says Merovitz, who now makes his home in Calgary. “The air is full of familiar smells and I’m a stone’s throw away from the Rideau which I talk about a lot in my show.”
The show is Merovitz’s life story, fictionalized, and set to an array of musical sounds including Klezmer stylings and country ditties — all of which Merovitz performs.
In his energetic show he portrays several characters, including himself at various ages, as he dances and sings about his family history and what it was like to grow up Jewish in the Ottawa Valley. And while there are many facts in the telling, Merovitz points out that he’s taken some artistic license with the tales for entertainment’s sake. “It’s not biography, it’s theatre,” he says.
But it’s also a story that’s close to his heart, and one he’s been developing for 30 years. The seed of the idea came as he was working out west, planting trees in his twenties.
He heard a news story about an Alberta teacher who was teaching his students that the Holocaust was a fraud. “It was like a penny dropping and I knew there was a story for me to tell,” he explains.
“I came back east, interviewed my relatives and uncovered these amazing stories. Out of that came the first scenes for the show, and I think it’s something audiences all over Canada can still relate to.”
If Cows Could Fly runs through March 9 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre. Tickets are $36 for adults and $26 for students and seniors. Call 613-236-5196 to reserve.