Community will play its part in CKLU benefit performance
Sudbury Living is a proud sponsor of The Case for the Missing Mayor.
The Sudbury Journal announced the death of Sudbury’s third mayor, Murray C. Biggar, in September 1897. Yet, strangely enough, a body was never found.
Biggar’s disappearance is a Hollywood blockbuster-style mystery that took place right on our doorstep.
As Detective Joe Friday would say: “The facts, lady; just the facts.”
These are the facts. Lawyer Murray C. Biggar, who served one term as mayor of the town of Sudbury in 1895, went by train to Massey on Sept.14, 1897. Upon his return, his wife, Etta, met him at the train station in downtown Sudbury, strolled with him to his law office where he perused the day’s mail.
Etta proceeded home alone to await his arrival but never saw her husband again. He simply disappeared into thin air.
What really happened that night in M.C. Biggar’s law office?
Two days later, police constable Gagne, gathering information about the missing former mayor, discovered Biggar had been seen walking toward Lake Ramsey. During his inspection of the shore, Gagne uncovered a small boat in the reeds ─ and this is where the penny drops ─ with part of a telegram addressed to Biggar on the boat’s floor. Indeed, Biggar must have been in the boat.
Gagne searched the lake for days, even using dynamite to surface the body, but to no avail. Biggar was deemed to have drown. Why? Doing what? And why would the body not rise from the depths?
Mayor M.C. Biggar was eventually declared dead and life moved on. But that’s not the end of the story.
CKLU Radio’s stage play, The Case of the Missing Mayor, to be presented Oct. 29 at 2 pm, one performance only, at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, incorporates all the reported facts, adding meat to the bones of this strange disappearance.
Set in 1948, as Sudbury Star’s publisher J.R. Meakes digs through The Journal’s archives, the play moves back and forth from 1948 to the 1890s. Familiar characters such as another former mayor, Max Silverman, are incorporated.
And who’s playing Max Silverman? None other than Mayor Brian Bigger himself.
“Mayor B. Bigger just wasn’t right for the part of Mayor M. Biggar,” writer/director Judi Straughan says. “He’s much more like Maxie Silverman.”
Silverman, president, coach and general manager of the Sudbury Wolves in the 1930s, became mayor in 1966.
“Matthew Heiti, who’s playing M.C. Biggar, actually looks like the 1895 Biggar!”
Actor, director and playwright Heiti is well-known on the Sudbury theatre scene.
“Audiences are in for a casting treat,” Straughan adds, “How’s this for a great group? Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh plays Miss Loose, the teacher and former police chief Alex McCauley is Const. Gagne, who at times is like Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau. Peter Williams is J.R. Meakes, Janet Gasparini plays Miss Kitty and francophone theatre creator Miriam Cusson plays Biggar’s wife. Sudbury historian H. Moses is played by Roger Nash. Sudbury.com editor Mark Gentili is double cast, as are GNO’s Daniel Aubin and Terry Galvin, founding director of the McEwen School of Architecture. Roughneck Fanny Brown is handled by Tannys Laughren.”
Infusing the play with music and singing commercials of the late 1940s are Ralph McIntosh and Kelly Perras.
“The play’s structure is based on radio plays of 1940s and 1950s, so singing commercials are a must.”
The audience becomes part of the imagined broadcast of Max Silverman’s Radio Hour.
“Comic actor Bill Sanders is charged with keeping the ball rolling in the broadcast studio.”
Straughan predicts a sold-out house for this one-off event. General admission tickets for The Case of the Missing Mayor are $25 and can be purchased online at cklu.ca. A limited number are available at Jett Landry Music (cash only), Gloria’s and One Sky on Durham St., across from the Y.