I Wonder – I Do illustrates a musical meadow filled with the labour of God's handiwork and the voice of God’s Spirit. We, as caretakers of the meadow, co-create with God working together to preserve and care for all of God’s creation. This is not just a children’s musical. It is for those who believe children can minister to and inform all ages through drama and music. It is also for any age who believe that the child in each one of us can be blessed from wonder.
Words like Sam Keen’s, “Wonder, in the child is the capacity for sustained and continued delight, marvel, amazement and enjoyment. It is the capacity of the child to approach the world as if it were a smorgasbord of potential delights, waiting to be tasted" (Apology for Wonder, p.44) echoed in my spirit until they found music and script.
I am reminded of a precious responsibility to stewardship “God is the real owner of all material things as well as of spiritual reality and these things have been given the people to be stewards” (United Church Publishing House, The Earth is the Lord’s, p.23)
And to the scriptures that gave me the story, I am eternally grateful. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims God's handiwork (Ps.19:1).
Michelle Payne says: From Donna j. Mann's musical, "I Wonder, I Do." I was just a wee little girl of 15. That feels like so long ago - I've learned so much! Still, it's nice to look back at this. Plus, Donna j. Mann (a local minister) really wrote a gorgeous song. I love it.
In case you're wondering, I'm meant to be playing Mother Nature here. There are two mics (a head and hand held) because the head mic sounded really ugly. It looks awful, but sounds way better than the alternative.
Bucking cultural trends
April 7, 2006
Noted author and Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton said: "Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up."
G.K. had change in mind. Today people who see themselves as critics of our culture busy themselves taking down fences. Possibly a better metaphor would picture them as building fences. . . Christmas concerts have disappeared from our schools and Easter or Christmas displays have vanished from the public square.
Minority pressure has turned the Christmas tree into a Holiday tree and one US city even banned the Easter Bunny from city hall, because an ill informed bureaucrat assumed this ancient fertility symbol had Christian roots. Whether we like it or not, we live in an age when attitudes of political correctness and an emphasis on minority rights have fenced off mainstream culture from centre stage.
But occasionally a breath of fresh air blows through, bypassing the gatekeepers or fence builders. On March 25 Anna and I attended a performance of the musical, I Wonder - I Do in the Hanover Civic auditorium. Over 50 children from age six to 19 sang and acted, all of them music students of Dianne Leith and members of the Leith Singers.
No simple students' recital this, but a well-rehearsed production with all actors and singers in costume and with Chris Patterson providing a spirited accompaniment on the piano. All of the performers exhibited more than a touch of professionalism. To my mind, the real show stopper occurred when Michelle Payne in the guise of Mother Nature entered from the rear of the auditorium singing God's Gift to You.
The Reverend Dr. Donna Mann, formerly of Elora, wrote the script and most of the music, fourteen songs and raps. Now retired, Mann has ministered in United Churches in Alberta, Guelph, Durham, and Mount Forest and has two published books with two more on the way.
The thing that amazed me was that the musical had a solid Christian message and played to sold-out crowds in the Hanover Civic Centre in three performances. Congratulations to the folks in Hanover, the Leith Singers, and Dr. Mann who chose to buck the trend and ignore the gatekeepers and fence builders. . . .
“I Wonder, I Do” is a fanciful exploration of a rite of passage explored by three young people.
I had the opportunity to attend one of the sold out performances. The lights dimmed and the theatre filled with joy as many children’s voices rang out in song to Dr. Donna j. Mann’s fanciful exploration of “I Wonder, I Do”.
The play’s three central figures explore the issues we all must tackle as a rite of passage – the world of creation around us. The play’s central discussion is filled with pertinent, relevant, clear dialogue and supported by both humour and music. Children of all ages reflect the world in which we live as they dance and sing and wonder, in their portrayal of creatures, great and small.
The opportunity for a choir and so many children’s roles provides unique access for an introduction to the stage. Because the roles vary in complexity even the most seasoned young actor has a window for challenge. The play also provides a spotlight for talented young singers and dancers, as solo performances are intertwined within the dialogue. Set and costume development becomes as unlimited as ones imagination.
In this age of uncertainty, I was inspired by the message. I carried the joy of children’s voices home with me.” I Wonder I Do” has something for everyone – a breath of fresh air in these troubled times. Well deserved of the standing ovations
G. Gibson R.N., BScN
Critique of “I Wonder – I Do”
by Kevin Miller – April, 2009
Donna: I appreciate your desire to provide a fun, faith-building experience for kids. I also like to see this environmental message from an evangelical perspective. There’s not enough of that sort of thing.
(Kevin gave me some valuable homework in the middle of these kind words)
But, overall, I commend your ability to pull together such a massive project, especially with the music in addition to the drama. A HUGE job! Well done.
Kevin Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and educator who has written, co-written, and edited over 30 books, both fiction and non-fiction.He currently resides in Abbotsford, British Columbia