Who doesn’t love a good musical? I’ve long held the belief that life would be so fabulous if we all burst into song every once in awhile, or, ideally, daily. I know I’m not alone in this – read on to hear from Montreal’s own champion for musical theater.
The Center for Education and Theater in Montreal (CETM) brings you the seventh Next Wave Festival of New Musicals. I recently sat down with festival director Stephen Pietrantoni. Here are some highlights from our conversation.
Stephanie Weiner (SW): What is the CETM and what is Next Wave about?
Stephen Pietrantoni (SP): The CETM aims to bring new musical theater to Montreal, and offer a place for local talent to shine and develop their skills. If there’s going to be an industry (in Montreal), we have to build it. Especially on the anglo side where there is not much opportunity to get this kind of exposure. We want to be the specialists in musical theater because it is such a particular genre. Everyone wants to buy into the big hit, but where does the hit come from? They were all developed in the regions. My mission is to put Montreal on that map.
SW: Is there a selection process for the shows that appear in the festival?
SP: In the past we put out a call where we said “We’ll produce your musical.” Having visited festivals around the world, we want to embrace the model where people bring their shows to us and we become the show place for them. I have a preference for the ones that leave you with hope. I gotta feel that we’re gonna give the audience something to take home and make them feel better, plus a tune to whistle on the way home. My theory about why you love a musical, ultimately, is how it gets at you in here (points to chest). It’s the emotion of it.
SW: Tell me about this year’s productions.
SP: This year’s crop is very lyrical, very tuneful. In chronological order as they’ll appear at the festival:
- Danny Boy is written by Lisa Forget (original cast of Les Miserables in Canada) and Chris Barillaro. It is a reluctant love story set in both Montreal and Ireland, it takes place in the time of matchmakers. This presentation is part production, part discussion about ‘the making of’ and a unique crowdfunding opportunity.
- The next is Merton of the Movies, which I’m directing. That is the one artistic pleasure I get a year, that is to direct something. It’s warm, warm, warm, warm, warm. This is a show that has been performed in two American cities already, who’s creators want it Broadway bound. It’s about the relationship between country bumpkin, Merton, pinning away at being a serious art film actor who is hoodwinked by a beautiful actress into being in, essentially, the keystone cop movies.
- Then we have a completely different thing, and it’s bilingual. Nuits d’art and Sixties Follies. It’s a combination vernissage, for beautiful decorative art boxes, and, in collaboration with Voies culturelles des faubourgs, combining 60’s pop songs with a dramatic through line giving the songs more specific meaning within the context.
- And finally, a french version of Daisy and the Wonderweeds, Marguerite et les Mauvaises herbes which will be shown as a special preview concert. It was translated by Yves Morin who did a lot of the work for Just for Laughs, the big musicals, Hairspray and My Fair Lady.
SW: If there were one thing you would like our readers to know, what would it be?
SP: The CETM rents low cost space for rehearsals, contact us for details!
SW: We both know I’m sold, but what would you say to someone who is on the fence about musicals to get them out to your festival?
SP: Show up, sit down, open your ears and smile! It’s so basic!
The festival put out a call for demo clips from musical theater performers. These will be shown as part of the My Personal Best live video clip filming session prior to the festival closing party. If you want to apply, they are still open to receiving submissions.
More information and tickets, click HERE Danny Boy at the Centre Calixa-Lavallée (3819 Calixa-Lavallée) on September 25. 7 p.m. Free with advance reservation. Merton of the Movies at the Centre Calixa-Lavallée on September 25. 9 p.m. & September 26. 9 p.m. $22 regular, $20 students/seniors. Nuits d’art – Sixties Follies at the Centre Calixa-Lavallée on September 26. Decorative art expo at 5 p.m., educational presentation at 6:45, Sixties Follies performance at 7 p.m. Free as part of les Journées de la culture, reservations required for performance. Marguerite et les mauvaises herbes at the Centre Calixa-Lavallée on September 27. 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. $20. My Personal Best live video clip filming session at the Lion d’Or (1690 Ontario East) on September 28. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Festival Closing Party at the Lion d’Or on September 28. 5 p.m. $15 includes hors d’oeuvres, cash bar.