She had only been gone a couple of days, but Florence Henderson already was missing Petrolia.
Henderson wowed audiences at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia for the past two weeks and says she loved every minute of it.
Speaking to The Independent by phone from her hotel in Maryland, Henderson says she already missed Petrolia.
Henderson was first approached by her friend Michael Learned, who had worked with David Hogan and David Rogers in Petrolia, about coming to the theater for her one-woman show. She admits at the time, she wasn’t too sure about the idea.
“I thought ‘Uuhhh, where’s Petrolia?’ I’d played in many places in Canada but had just never gotten to that area,” says Henderson. “But the more we talked to David Hogan and talked to Michael, I thought ‘Yes, I think I will.’”
And Henderson says she’s glad she did. “I was surprised by the beauty of the theater, I was surprised by the sheer professionalism of Richard Poore (the town’s performing arts director), of the crew there and David Hogan and David Rogers,” she says. “They are on par with the best of whom I have worked with in my career.”
“Everybody (in her crew) just really didn’t want to leave. Everyone had a wonderful time.”
The audience reaction to her show was one of the reasons she enjoyed working in Petrolia. “Audiences were so appreciative,” says Henderson. “There was a standing ovation so quickly after every performance it just blew us away.”
After the show Henderson met her fans and was pleased how they not only mentioned her career in theater but expressed how much they enjoyed the show that evening.
“They thanked me for inspiring them, for entertaining them…It was about what a great time they had and how much they appreciated it and then I knew I did my job.”
But it wasn’t just the fans which Henderson appreciated; she discovered a number of restaurants in Sarnia-Lambton, including Streets in Petrolia, which she loved.
“Kayla (Henderson’s manager) and I went to a restaurant here and we said to each other ‘It’s not Petrolia!’”
Henderson says she enjoyed her experience so much, she plans to pass along a few names of performers she think should hit the boards in Petrolia including Shirley Jones and Vicki Lawrence.
“There are just a lot of people who would truly love this experience.”