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Sally Cole
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P.E.I. singer-songwriter John Connolly will perform selections from his new musical, Marathon of Hope, as well as other compositions during his concert at Victoria Playhouse on Aug. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The 2014 concert series will wrap up on Aug. 18 with a performance byLaura Smithwith Don Brownrigg.

John Connolly will sing songs from his new musical, Marathon of Hope, as well as other compositions during his concert at Victoria Playhouse on Aug. 11

John Connolly is an award-winning P.E.I. singer-songwriter.

He’s also known for his portrayal of Moody Spurgeon MacPherson, the fiddler, in the first-year production of Anne and Gilbert - The Musical.

“It was a magical experience for everyone involved,” says Connolly, who is on P.E.I. preparing for his concert at Victoria Playhouse on Aug. 11.

But lately he’s known as the creator of a new musical, Marathon of Hope. It’s about the life of athlete Terry Fox who, with one leg having been amputated, set out on a cross-Canada run in 1980 to raise money and awareness for cancer research.

“I wanted to tell a Canadian story. I also wanted to make it streetwise so people my age can latch onto it as well,” says the Charlottetown native of the musical that includes 18 or more of his original songs and ran as a developmental production at Theatre Sheridan in Ontario in 2013.

“Thankfully, all the right people came out of the woodwork (to help).”

Currently being reworked, the show will go into its final workshop at Sheridan College in September.

“It’s been an incredible journey and I’m so grateful. So, this summer has been a real treat to go back and reshape the show,” says Connolly who will perform songs from the musical, as well as other new compositions, during the concert in Victoria.

One of his first he is expected to play is a yet unnamed song that he refers to simply as “epic.” It takes listeners from Fox’s early years, as a boy in junior high school, to his time at Simon Fraser University where he discovers he has cancer.

“It’s a sweeping song that covers a lot of ground,” saysConnolly, will also sing Mystical Journey, a song which closes the first act.

“It’s really at a point in Terry’s run where he’s coming close to Ontario. It’s been really hard up to this point and nothing has changed for him. He’s still continuing on with this dream. But he starts seeing how the world is changing around him because of what he’s doing.”

And, although there have been 10 or more versions of the song, this is the one he’s most happy with.

“The musical has challenged me, as a writer, to write the most consistent songs possible that serve these moments. And, after living with this song for a long time, I’m just excited to share it.”

Another new composition he plans to sing, which has nothing to do with the musical, is Red Sky At Night. Connolly wrote it during his two-month stay in Gabriola Island, B.C., this past winter.

“It was really a time of recuperation after one of the most stressful periods of my life,” says Connolly who was in a car accident this past November.

During the recovery period, he’d go for walks and look at the Pacific Ocean at various times of the day.

“The things that struck me were the sunsets on the West Coast and how the light just lingers and lingers and lingers. So this song bubbled up over the course of a week. And I’m very happy about it.”

Connolly is also happy about the concert in Victoria, where he will be accompanied by guitarist Nick Gauthier. And he’s hoping that old friends and new will join them.

“It’s going to be an intimate acoustic affair.”

Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at scole@theguardian.pe.ca or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.

If you are going

- What: John Connolly in concert.

- When: Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m.

- Where: Victoria Playhouse, Victoria.

- Box office: Call 1-800-925-2025.

- Websites: Go to http://johnconnolly.ca.

Organizations: Sheridan College, Cross-Canada, Theatre Sheridan Simon Fraser University Red Sky The Guardian

Geographic location: Ontario, Charlottetown, Gabriola Island Pacific Ocean West Coast Victoria

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