Top News

Grand Bank native Craig Haley living out childhood acting dream


Actor Craig Haley has taken on the roles of such famous people as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Buddy Holly.

However, the Grand Bank native said current role as a wounded Newfoundland soldier named Hans has been one of the most fantastic experiences of his career.

Hans is one of the main characters in the play “Our Fanny,” which premiered at Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s (TNL) 2016 Gros Morne Theatre Festival.

Written by well-known performing artist Berni Stapleton and directed by TNL artistic director Jeff Pitcher, “Our Fanny”is inspired by the book “Your Daughter Fanny – The War Letters of Frances Cluett, VAD” edited by Bert Riggs and Bill Rompkey.

Cluett (played by Robyn Huxter of Steady Brook) was born in Belleoram, Newfoundland in 1883.

In 1916, she joined the Volunteer Aid Detachment (more commonly known as VAD) and was sent overseas to London, ultimately serving for four years at the 10th General Hospital in Rouen, France.

The play is inspired by Cluett’s many letters to home, detailing the horrors and heartbreak she witnessed, and revealing how her humor and resilience captured the love and loyalty of all she encountered, Pitcher said in a press release.

Following the war, Cluett returned to teaching in Belleoram.

She died in 1969 at age 85.

Haley’s role is that of a wounded soldier who has seen first-hand the calamities of war.

“He has to grapple with the fact that fighting was a decision he made against his own better judgement. He had no heart for the war, but the circumstances of his life led him to get swept up in service to his country. When we find him in the show, he's in rough shape and in a very precarious situation. This role has a lot of meat on its bones, as we say,” Haley said via e-mail.

The play is loaded with all the components that make for a powerful experience for the audience, he said.

“‘Our Fanny’ shines a light on the collateral damage of those caught in the cruelest of circumstances created by what leaders thought was in their nation's best interest,” the 37-year-old said.

“It's not a pretty story, but it's a story that absolutely needs to be told. That being said, I think what resonates most with audiences, who have seen our show, is that in these darkest of hours, quite often the best of our humanity can shine through.”

Experience

Haley was raised in Grand Bank and currently lives in St. John’s. The nature of his job has him living from coast to coast over the years.

“I've spent time living in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and, most recently, Cow Head on the Northern Peninsula.”

Haley’s passion for performance dates to his childhood.

“I'm probably one of the few people who can claim they're doing what they dreamed of doing in primary school. I did drama classes in junior high whenever it was available and followed up with theatre arts and drama club in high school.”

Haley has a major in acting and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2002.

After finishing his education, he spent four or five years pursuing different opportunities, while “floundering in the world.”

“So, 10 years ago - this very week, actually - I returned to working in theatre and have been at it pretty much ever since. It's funny that so many people leave this line of work, due to lack of opportunity, but I came back to it and found just the opposite,” he said.

In 2006, Haley was hired by a company called Wow! Productions based out of Winnipeg. They operate three dinner theatres; one in that city, Calgary, and one in the West Edmonton Mall and produce five three act musical comedies a year, running in each city for two to three months at a time.

“The first show I did for nine months was called ‘Magical Mystery Tour: Songs of the Beatles.’ The show was a marriage of two of my favourite things: the music of the Fab Four and the comedy of Monty Python.”

Haley developed a reputation for being the company’s “fake British guy.”

During his six years with Wow! he played John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger, Buddy Holly and the dad from Frazier.

Being able to develop specialized skills with impersonations and accents has been invaluable to his career, he said, and undoubtedly helped him clinch the role in “Our Fanny.”

“They're specialized skills that are always in demand and no doubt led me to earning the role that I'll be playing when we bring ‘Our Fanny’ to Burin on Oct. 12,” he said.

After finishing his fourth show with Wow! in February 2012, Haley took a brief trip home to Grand Bank.

His holiday coincided with TNL’s general auditions for the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, which were taking place in St. John's.

“I went for it and ended up getting the job and have spent every summer working for the festival since. I hadn't intended to move back to Newfoundland but sometimes when opportunity knocks, you just have to answer it. I've never regretted making that decision.”

After over 40 performances (which drew almost 2,000 people) at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, “Our Fanny” is currently touring the province and will wrap up at The Rooms Theatre in St. John’s on Oct. 14 but not before a performance at the Royal Canadian Legion in Burin Oct. 12.

Pitcher describes Stapleton’s play as “extraordinary.”

The women in Newfoundland and Labrador made a significant contribution to the Great War effort both at home and overseas, he said.

“Like the men they showed strength and determination, valour and devotion to duty, leavened with their own particular fortitude and humour,” Pitcher said.

Box office information for all performances - including dates - and venues is available at www.theatrenewfoundland.com.

danette@nl.rogers.com

 

 

Dates for “Our Fanny”:

Royal Canadian Legion, St. Alban’s, Oct. 5

Conrad Fitzgerald Academy, English Harbour West, student matinee, Oct. 6

Belleoram Community Hall, Oct. 6

Royal Canadian Legion, Botwood, Oct. 7

St. Patrick’s Hall, Tilting, Fogo Island, Oct. 10

Royal Canadian Legion, Burin, Oct. 12

Placentia Bay Arts Centre, Placentia, Oct. 13

The Rooms Theatre, St. John’s, Oct. 14

View a promo of “Our Fanny” on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFUgNAaJR5g

However, the Grand Bank native said current role as a wounded Newfoundland soldier named Hans has been one of the most fantastic experiences of his career.

Hans is one of the main characters in the play “Our Fanny,” which premiered at Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s (TNL) 2016 Gros Morne Theatre Festival.

Written by well-known performing artist Berni Stapleton and directed by TNL artistic director Jeff Pitcher, “Our Fanny”is inspired by the book “Your Daughter Fanny – The War Letters of Frances Cluett, VAD” edited by Bert Riggs and Bill Rompkey.

Cluett (played by Robyn Huxter of Steady Brook) was born in Belleoram, Newfoundland in 1883.

In 1916, she joined the Volunteer Aid Detachment (more commonly known as VAD) and was sent overseas to London, ultimately serving for four years at the 10th General Hospital in Rouen, France.

The play is inspired by Cluett’s many letters to home, detailing the horrors and heartbreak she witnessed, and revealing how her humor and resilience captured the love and loyalty of all she encountered, Pitcher said in a press release.

Following the war, Cluett returned to teaching in Belleoram.

She died in 1969 at age 85.

Haley’s role is that of a wounded soldier who has seen first-hand the calamities of war.

“He has to grapple with the fact that fighting was a decision he made against his own better judgement. He had no heart for the war, but the circumstances of his life led him to get swept up in service to his country. When we find him in the show, he's in rough shape and in a very precarious situation. This role has a lot of meat on its bones, as we say,” Haley said via e-mail.

The play is loaded with all the components that make for a powerful experience for the audience, he said.

“‘Our Fanny’ shines a light on the collateral damage of those caught in the cruelest of circumstances created by what leaders thought was in their nation's best interest,” the 37-year-old said.

“It's not a pretty story, but it's a story that absolutely needs to be told. That being said, I think what resonates most with audiences, who have seen our show, is that in these darkest of hours, quite often the best of our humanity can shine through.”

Experience

Haley was raised in Grand Bank and currently lives in St. John’s. The nature of his job has him living from coast to coast over the years.

“I've spent time living in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and, most recently, Cow Head on the Northern Peninsula.”

Haley’s passion for performance dates to his childhood.

“I'm probably one of the few people who can claim they're doing what they dreamed of doing in primary school. I did drama classes in junior high whenever it was available and followed up with theatre arts and drama club in high school.”

Haley has a major in acting and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2002.

After finishing his education, he spent four or five years pursuing different opportunities, while “floundering in the world.”

“So, 10 years ago - this very week, actually - I returned to working in theatre and have been at it pretty much ever since. It's funny that so many people leave this line of work, due to lack of opportunity, but I came back to it and found just the opposite,” he said.

In 2006, Haley was hired by a company called Wow! Productions based out of Winnipeg. They operate three dinner theatres; one in that city, Calgary, and one in the West Edmonton Mall and produce five three act musical comedies a year, running in each city for two to three months at a time.

“The first show I did for nine months was called ‘Magical Mystery Tour: Songs of the Beatles.’ The show was a marriage of two of my favourite things: the music of the Fab Four and the comedy of Monty Python.”

Haley developed a reputation for being the company’s “fake British guy.”

During his six years with Wow! he played John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Mick Jagger, Buddy Holly and the dad from Frazier.

Being able to develop specialized skills with impersonations and accents has been invaluable to his career, he said, and undoubtedly helped him clinch the role in “Our Fanny.”

“They're specialized skills that are always in demand and no doubt led me to earning the role that I'll be playing when we bring ‘Our Fanny’ to Burin on Oct. 12,” he said.

After finishing his fourth show with Wow! in February 2012, Haley took a brief trip home to Grand Bank.

His holiday coincided with TNL’s general auditions for the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, which were taking place in St. John's.

“I went for it and ended up getting the job and have spent every summer working for the festival since. I hadn't intended to move back to Newfoundland but sometimes when opportunity knocks, you just have to answer it. I've never regretted making that decision.”

After over 40 performances (which drew almost 2,000 people) at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, “Our Fanny” is currently touring the province and will wrap up at The Rooms Theatre in St. John’s on Oct. 14 but not before a performance at the Royal Canadian Legion in Burin Oct. 12.

Pitcher describes Stapleton’s play as “extraordinary.”

The women in Newfoundland and Labrador made a significant contribution to the Great War effort both at home and overseas, he said.

“Like the men they showed strength and determination, valour and devotion to duty, leavened with their own particular fortitude and humour,” Pitcher said.

Box office information for all performances - including dates - and venues is available at www.theatrenewfoundland.com.

danette@nl.rogers.com

 

 

Dates for “Our Fanny”:

Royal Canadian Legion, St. Alban’s, Oct. 5

Conrad Fitzgerald Academy, English Harbour West, student matinee, Oct. 6

Belleoram Community Hall, Oct. 6

Royal Canadian Legion, Botwood, Oct. 7

St. Patrick’s Hall, Tilting, Fogo Island, Oct. 10

Royal Canadian Legion, Burin, Oct. 12

Placentia Bay Arts Centre, Placentia, Oct. 13

The Rooms Theatre, St. John’s, Oct. 14

View a promo of “Our Fanny” on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFUgNAaJR5g

Recent Stories