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Ottawa musicals raise money for mental health and more

“People are incredibly generous when you give them a real cause to believe in,” said Ms. Edwards-Frommer

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The gift: Co-founded indie women productions

The cause: The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health and other causes

A few years ago Joan Edwards Frommer was working as a stage manager at a volunteer theatre company in Perth, Ont., when she met Cindi Lee Bates who was acting in one of the productions. The two hit it off and discovered a mutual passion for theatre.

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They also wanted to try something bigger and decided to put on a production of Next to Normal, a musical about a mother coping with bipolar disorder and the death of her child. They approached the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health about using the musical as a fundraiser. The women hoped to raise $5,000, but managed to pull in $15,000 after putting on a series of performances in 2014 with volunteer actors and musicians.

They call themselves "indie women productions" and they have since put on several musicals around Ottawa, raising money for a number of causes including contributing $12,300 to help the family of Jillian O'Connor, an Ottawa-area mother who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer while pregnant. And they have productions lined up for this fall and next spring.

"People are incredibly generous when you give them a real cause to believe in," said Ms. Edwards-Frommer, a retired school administrator (Ms. Lee Bates is a retired school principal and drama teacher). "As long as we can still stand up we'll keep doing this."

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More

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