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Avalon Regional Heritage Fair
John Murray Anderson—A Little Known Figure in Newfoundland's History
My project is about John Murray Anderson (JMA). Despite being relatively unknown to many people today he had a huge impact on Broadway. It was his dream that St. John's would develop a professional theatre company. He would be so proud to know that 60+ years after his death a musical was written and performed in his hometown about his life.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
I was so surprised to see how talented JMA was. He was involved in all areas of theatre. JMA wasn't just a singer or a dancer. He was involved in the production, writing, lighting and design of 30+ shows on Broadway. He also gave many famous people their start on Broadway including Harry Belafonte and Gene Kelly.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
JMA was far removed from Broadway and at a time when the musical theatre community was not very developed in Newfoundland he persisted and despite many setbacks he was determined to be a success. His story is about pursuing a dream and never giving up.
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
As a young person who is very interested in musical theatre it is so encouraging to see how successful John Murray Anderson was on Broadway. Even though it was unheard of 100 years ago for a Newfoundlander to be a success on Broadway he was determined. Today we have so many opportunities and experiences compared to what John Murray Anderson had. Children today have the opportunity to perform with local theatre companies and can take advantage of voice and music lessons. JMA had to create his own opportunities.