Overbrook the Musical: neighbours come together to tell their stories

Neighbours in Overbrook have spent the last few months writing a musical that opens on Friday, Nov. 24.

'It's such an exiting thing to illustrate how people can help one another'

Overbrook the Musical opens on Friday and runs all weekend. (Overbrook Community Association/Facebook)

A musical has taken over Overbrook, or perhaps it's the other way around.

The first musical of its kind in Ottawa, Overbrook the Musical has been entirely created by both new and old residents of the area — scripts and lyrics. The musical examines the lives of families in the neighbourhood, woven together through songs in various languages as a way of celebrating the community's rich cultural heritage. 

"One of the joys is that the songs [are] written by Overbrook residents," said director Eleanor Crowder. "They are lovely songs about what it's like to live in a small neighbourhood. 

All sorts of community members are in the play, with a cast of 40 actors, ranging in age from 10 to 80.

Peter Meneguzzi said he found himself in the play, which opens Friday, when the casting director accosted him on the street.

"I was expecting to maybe hold a lamp or something," said Meneguzzi, in an interview with CBC Radio's All in a Day. But instead he is playing the role of a soon-to-be father. 

The team spent nearly six months gathering stories for the production, holding casting and writing workshops throughout the summer.

Celebrating a community 

After months of late-night rehearsals, the cast members hope the experience is something they can pass on to other neighbourhoods who are interested in community theatre. They plan to write a book about the project. 

"It's such an exciting thing to illustrate how people can help one another, and get all their needs met because there is empathy and compassion," said cast member Megan Rooney. "And that's how communities thrive." 

The first performance is Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m at Ottawa Technical Secondary School on 485 Donald St. You can buy tickets here.