CAPE MAY – The culturally significant Canadian musical, “Billy Bishop Goes to War,” written by John Gray with Eric Peterson, will open Cape May Stage’s 2017 season. Audiences will witness the trials and tribulations of World War I through the eyes of Billy Bishop, a WWI pilot who struggles to reconcile his joy of flying with the horrors of the war. Set to music, this tale of heroism takes you down into the trenches, up through the skies and inside the human spirit.
Directing the cast of “Billy Bishop Goes to War” is director, playwright, actor and Cape May Stage veteran Marlena Lustik. Lustik says, “Although this play was chosen because of the 100th anniversary of America’s entrance into WWI, I had no idea how relevant it would seem today.”
Playing Billy Bishop, a Canadian-flying ace credited with 72 victories in WWI and billed as the top fighter pilot in the British Empire, is J. Max Baker. Baker was born and raised on the West Coast to a family of entertainers. He has traveled the world as a performer, performing in such places as Osaka, Japan, the Sydney Opera House, Macau and China. Previous credits include “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Next to Normal,” “Stones in his Pockets” and “One Christmas Carol.”
Sam Saint Ours will be making his Cape May Stage debut as the piano player. Much more than an accompanist who sings and provides score, the piano player acts as a chum and a narrator. Saint Ours is a recent graduate of James Madison University and most recently played the White Rabbit and Tweedle Dee in “Wonderland,” for which he also played the guitar, banjo, bass, drums and mandolin.
“Billy Bishop Goes to War” deals with serious topics in a lighthearted manner with laughter and song. The play takes you from beer-parlor merriment to sadness and action that goes from Canada to England and Europe, then back again. This tale of humanity and heroism that has a remarkably timely resonance opens on May 24 and runs through June 23. The show runs Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. There will be a Best Value matinee on May 28, a Pay-What-You-Wish Performance on June 9 and a talkback with cast and crew on June 16. In addition to the main stage performance, join special guest, Professor Tom Chin, on June 5 at 8 p.m. for commentary and screening of the film “Billy Bishop Goes to War.” For ticket information, visit capemaystage.org or call the box office at (609) 770-8311.