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A few weeks ago, on a frigid and foggy Saturday morning, six members of the Understood BETSY cast braved the cold to help us capture some promo photos.
Shot at the Historic Stewart Farm in Surrey, BC—the perfect locale for an early 20th century story set on a farm—these photos capture some of the endearing relationships and memorable characters that you’ll enjoy in our show.
Wow. First time in a recording studio. Another milestone in this crazy adventure we are on. I was so nervous that first day last August and I wasn’t even playing! Well, I did play piano for one song because after all, what musician doesn’t want to appear at least once on an official recording?
Lincoln Tatem and Michael Nowak
The nerves were quickly dispelled by Lincoln Tatem our ever-affirming Producer and the equally affable Michael Nowak, Sound Engineer at Saga Recording, Vancouver. These guys make a great team!
Tracks were laid down for piano (Kelvin Ketchum, Lincoln, me), flute (Vania Levans and Naomi Schmidt), violin (Cameron Wilson) and cello (Finn Manniche). A wee bit of percussion and electric bass were added by Lincoln and Naomi contributed a song’s worth of clarinet and a short saxophone cameo in the Finale Mix. Each of these accomplished artists were a pleasure to work with and they all make such beautiful music. Cam and Finn’s playing brought tears (of joy!) to my eyes more than once.
Cameron Wilson and Finn Manniche
Some years ago, before heading off to our cabin in the bush, my good friend Dina Smith lent me her well worn, might I say, tattered (?) copy of Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. I began to read it late one evening and could not stop. There were so many points that resonated within me; things that had come up during the homeschooling of our four children and even things I could remember from my own childhood. I remember my spirit bursting forth with a “YES!!” when Betsy realizes she has had her first, very own original thought. I can remember when that happened to me – only I was in my early twenties! Memorizing and spewing back had always come easily; “thinking”, not so much.
As I thought about this young girl and her journey, and as three of our children became increasingly involved in musical theatre, it occurred to me that Understood Betsy could be told in that genre. I began to muse about it and found tunes and lyrics coming to me, the first of which led to “The Beginning of Me”, or, Betsy’s Song. Kind of fitting in a way
After sitting with this idea for quite a long time, I brought it to my Heavenly Father and asked Him if this was something I should attempt to do. I mean, I had written a few songs over the years but something of this magnitude? And He told me to look up Revelation 3:8. Now for any of you Bible scholars out there, I know this is out of context, but part of that verse says “see, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut”. So, I took that as a go ahead; that and the fact that when I told my husband, Dave, and gradually a few trusted friends, each time I got so choked with emotion that I knew this was something I had to do.
And so, from October 2014 to December 2016, in our living room and dining room, in a vacation rental in PEI, and at our cabin at Adams Lake, I wrote “Understood BETSY”. From January 2017 to the present I have been orchestrating and refining. And as much as I could, given my humanness and propensity to forget, I have tried to do this in company with my Father.
The whole process has been a gift to me and I am so grateful to God, my family and those trusted friends who have both supported me and convinced me that we could bring “Understood BETSY” to the public stage. I hope the story and the music will bring joy and gladness to your heart.
Thanks for reading,
Caroline (Carrie) M. Forsyth
Orphaned as a baby, Elizabeth Ann is taken in by her Great Aunt Harriet and her daughter, gentle, tender hearted, conscientious Aunt Frances who live in a medium sized town, in a medium sized state in the middle of America.
After nine years of constant coddling, timid and wistful Elizabeth Ann is totally dependent on her devoted Aunt Frances whose thoughts and feelings are inextricably meshed with her own.
One day the unthinkable happens: Aunt Harriet falls ill and in order for Frances to properly care for her mother, Elizabeth Ann must be shipped off to the dreaded country cousins, the Putneys, where Aunt Harriet says there are “no good times at all”!
Arriving in Vermont and meeting her reticent Uncle Henry, bouncing Aunt Abigail and no-nonsense Cousin Ann, Elizabeth Ann, who is now called Betsy, begins her own personal journey of discovery.
While driving the horses back to the farm she has her first ever, very own thought; the next morning she ‘gets’ a joke for the first time; she is mystified at the one roomed school where she finds herself in several different grades at once; when her new little friend Molly falls into the ‘wolf pit’ she must rise above her fears; while trying to “help” little ‘Lias Brewster, her heart is first moved to compassion, then gently chastened; and, being accidentally abandoned at the county Fair with no way to get home… well, stay tuned!
Finally, when Aunt Frances comes back on the scene, Betsy shows how far she has come when she has to make an excruciating decision.