You may have noticed that we haven’t said a great deal here about the appearance of Don Harron and his partner Claudette on the Highlands Summer Festival stage this past Monday and Tuesday.
We weren’t being coy or overlooking his presence in this year’s program on purpose. It was just that with both performances sold out in late January, we didn’t want to be fanning the flames and raising the hopes of those without a ticket.
Rarely does the Highlands Summer Festival have a complete sell-out, including the back row of seats we like to refer to as Producers’ Row. These seats are generally not offered for sale and are used by staff. But that was not the case both Monday and Tuesday nights. Even Producers’ Row, with its compromised sight lines was filled with ticketed patrons.
The audiences were amply rewarded as they watched a veteran of 75 years in the entertainment business…..Don Harron started when he was ten years of age….took to the stage. It was a treat to be in the same room with a man whose performing arts resume is as lengthy and as outstanding as his.
Of course, we all remember him as Charlie Farquharson, a character he developed in the annual satirical revue of the 1950′s, Spring Thaw. Most, however would know Charlie from his appearances on the US comedy program, Hee Haw.
And while the bumbling farmer from Parry Sound is still his signature piece, Don Harron has so much more to his performing credits, including a host of television dramatic roles, acting on Broadway and off-Broadway plays, being a part of the company that started the Stratford Shakespeare Festival over 50 years ago and the man who wrote the libretto for the musical adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, now in its 46th year. Along the way he has written numerous book, most under Charlie’s pen name, but a few serious volumes as well.
At 85 years of age, Don Harron is truly an icon of Canadian performing arts and a national treasure. He is a man who revels in the opportunity to entertain and has the graciousness to spend time with audience members after the performance, signing books or just chatting.
It was a delight to have Charlie and the equally charming Claudette on our stage, if only for two performances this past week. Our only regret is that we could not have shared the experience with more of our audience members