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Photo by Mark Newman

Photo by Mark Newman

Buchanan Park elementary school principal Scott Lowrey (right) was thrilled to meet actor Cynthia Dale on Monday. Dale’s visit to the school was kept a secret from Lowrey for more than two months.

Big surprise for Buchanan Park principal

Scott Lowery all smiles during visit by Cynthia Dale

 By Mark Newman, News Staff 

While he didn’t “flip out”, Scott Lowery was clearly surprised and amazed when actor Cynthia Dale walked out from behind the stage curtain and into the Buchanan Park gymnasium on Monday morning.

“She’s probably my most favourite entertainer ever,” said a beaming Lowery, principal at the west Mountain elementary school. “The fact that she’s here in the school is overwhelming.”

Lowery said he first saw Dale in her role as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha at Stratford many years ago and has been a huge fan ever since.

Dale’s visit to the school was a closely-guarded secret.

It was organized by music teacher Dawn Martens, who knew her principal had seen Dale in a variety of stage shows and is an avid booster of her work.

“It’s kind of a Christmas present,” said Martens, who in October gathered a group of her Grade 5 and 6 students together to write a letter to Dale, inviting her to Buchanan Park.

Grade 6 student Nathalie Robinson-Evans was one of the youngsters who helped draft the letter.

“We all sat down and we raised our hand to say what we should say (in the letter),” said the 11-year-old, who noted the class researched the actor before writing to her.

The letter, emailed to Dale’s website on Oct. 18, noted the school does a lot of music and will be celebrating the Buchanan Park Opera Club’s 20th anniversary and has given over $55,000 to children’s cancer research since 1997.

“You are our principal’s favourite actor,” states the letter in part. “If you came, he will flip out. We promise to keep this a big surprise.”

Robinson-Evans credited Martens for coming up with the “flip out” part of the letter.

Martens meanwhile, said she heard back from Dale the next day.

“She responded (via email) that she was interested and then she phoned me at the school and we’ve been keeping this a secret for two-and-a-half months.”

Martens said she told Lowery the school was having a special assembly on Monday and he didn’t ask any questions.

The 53-year-old Dale, whose television and movie credits include My Bloody Valentine, Street Legal and The Listener, drove in from Stratfordwhere she has been a long-time star with leading roles in a number of musicals such as Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and 42nd Street.

She appeared quite humbled by the enthusiasm of the BP students and spent about 45 minutes answering questions, signing autographs and posing for photos.

Dale said she had been singing since age five and took voice lessons as a youngster.

“I wanted to be a singer and a dancer and an actor,” she said.

She also admitted she still gets a bit jumpy prior to each performance.

“It’s always scary,” she said. “Before every single show I’m nervous.”

Dale was pleased to accept a hand-made doll from the BP doll club.

The doll features her likeness in the role of Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady.

“That was an amazing time,” said Dale who recalled performing the role during Stratford’s 50th anniversary.

Dale was also asked what it’s like to be married to CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge.

“It’s really interesting,” said Dale, who noted she and her husband talk frequently about world events and do a lot of travelling.

She also joked that her husband doesn’t have to memorize lines like she does.

“You just have to read for 20 minutes a night,” she said.

Dale said she will be playing the role of the Bad Queen in Alice Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll, at Stratford next year.

The production at the Avon Theatre opens May 31.

She also stars in Hay Fever by Noel Coward which opens June 19 in Stratford.


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