The people of Fort Macleod spoke, and Empress Theatre summer program director Andy Jenkins listened.
In preparing for the 2012 summer season, Jenkins sought the counsel of Fort Macleod residents.
“They were all wanting to have musicals back on the Empress Theatre stage,” Jenkins said.
With that desire in mind, the Empress Theatre commissioned playwright Winn Bray to create a new musical suitable for the small summer program cast.
Bray had previously written plays commissioned by the Empress Theatre, including “Alberta Rose” for the 2005 summer season and “The Remittance Man” in 2007.
Bray’s creation for 2012 is “That Men May Fly,” a musical romantic comedy set in 1940s Fort Macleod.
“That Men May Fly” debuts at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28, and will be performed at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays until Sept. 1.
Special 11 a.m. matinees are planned for July 31 and Aug. 21.
“It’s tailored to Fort Macleod, to the history of the area,” Jenkins said.
“That Men May Fly” is set on No. 7 Special Flying Train School, which operated in Fort Macleod during World War Two.
The air base was part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program to get pilots ready to fly planes in battle in the skies over Europe.
The story is built around the relationship between Kit, a no-nonsense female aero engineer, and two pilots who come from distinctly different backgrounds.
Jack is a Canadian bush pilot with some rough edges, and Neville is a staid Brit who survived the bombing of London.
Bray went right to the source when doing research.
“She talked to a lot of the men from the training base,” Jenkins said.
“That Men May Fly” features songs from the era, such as Glen Miller’s hit “In The Mood,” Bing Crosby’s “Sunday, Monday, Always” and the Fred Astaire tune “They Can’t Take You Away From Me.”
Other hits include “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” by the Andrews Sisters, “There I go,” “There’ll Be Some Changes Made,” “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “The Maple Leaf Forever.”
“They’re classic tunes that people will recognize for sure,” Jenkins said.
Lindsey Zess-Funk, who is back for her fifth season with the Empress Theatre summer program, directs “That Men May Fly.”
Zess-Funk has a Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Calgary, specializing in directing.
She directed “The Worry Wart,” “Hockey Boys” and “Midnight” for the Empress Theatre summer program. She also acted in “Blame it on Bigfoot,” “Ghost Light,” “The Remittance Man” and “Waiting for the Queen.”