Home Feature Tom Wilson takes his story to the stage with Beautiful Scars musical

Tom Wilson takes his story to the stage with Beautiful Scars musical

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Tom Wilson’s identity crisis began in earnest at the age of four, when his mother looked him square in the eye and told him “There are secrets I know about you that I’ll take to my grave.”

What she meant, and how he finally figured it out, is a topic the Canadian writer-musician explored to stunning effect in his best-selling 2017 novel, Beautiful Scars: Steeltown Secrets, Mohawk Skywalkers and the Road Home, and a 2022 documentary film of the same name. Now his gripping story is coming to the stage as a musical created by Tom and Shaun Smyth, under the direction of Mary Francis Moore.

Playing April 24 to May 11, 2024, at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, the production brings together some of Canada’s most celebrated actors and musicians, with a powerfully evocative score by Tom, a multi-award-winning musician/storyteller with decades of achievements as a writer, player and performer. It’s a tale of loss, love and forgiveness that will have you spellbound from the first note to the last.

And it’s all possible simply because a very young Tom wanted to know why he didn’t look like anyone else in his family, and why he had a mother who appeared so much older than his friends’. His long and painful journey toward the truth took him from the blue-collar “Steeltown” of East Hamilton Mountain and up the St. Lawrence River to Kahnaw’a:ke Mohawk territory, where a generations-old secret lay waiting to be discovered.

The new musical has Sheldon Elter playing the part of the adult Tom, with Thompson Wilson as his younger self. Also in the cast are Kristi Hansen as his mother, Bunny; Brandon McGibbon as his father, George; Valerie Planche as Janie; and Jeremy Proulx as Bear.

The live band is made up of Phil Davis, Gary Craig and Dave Gray. Rounding out the creative team are music director Bob Foster, set designer Jay Havens, costume designer Yolanda Skelton, lighting designer Kevin Fraser, sound designer Ranil Sonnadara and choreographer Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo.

The show is the latest project for Tom — the culmination of the widespread acclaim he’s earned not just for Beautiful Scars, the book and film, but also for his stellar writing and performing work with musical outfits like Junkhouse, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and the Juno Award-winning Lee Harvey Osmond (in which he’s joined by Cowboy Junkies founder Michael Timmins). In addition, he’s an accomplished painter who’s had pieces hung in the Art Gallery of Burlington and along John Street in Hamilton (as part of a commission by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences).

“I’m scared and scarred but I’ve survived,” Tom writes in the book. With his compelling tale now about to take the leap into a vibrant three dimensions, it’s time to not just survive but thrive.

Tickets to Beautiful Scars the musical are $25 and up at www.theatreaquarius.org, or call the box office at (905) 522-7529.

Theatre Aquarius gratefully acknowledges support from its Season Sponsor, Donna Patterson, and the Title Sponsor for Beautiful Scars, The Slaight Family Foundation. The opening night partner on April 26 is Gowling WLG, and the community welcome party is hosted by Next Steps Planning with IPC Securities.

This event has been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

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