Show co-creator Doug Gallant talks about what’s new
by Alix MacLean
Doug Gallant, one of the creative masterminds behind the Charlottetown Festival production of Canada Rocks!, sat down with me to discuss some of the changes that have been made to the show, for its return engagement on the mainstage of the Confederation Centre. At the end of last season, the creative team took a long, hard look at what worked in the show and what did not. Gallant notes that he received a huge amount of feedback from the public—the majority of which was overwhelmingly positive. Last fall the creative team, consisting of Gallant, Terry Hatty, Wade Lynch, Hank Stinson, and director Anne Allan, began the work of making a successful show even better.
“Deciding what to put in and what to leave out is the hardest part of doing a show like Canada Rocks!,” Gallant mentioned. “Everybody on the creative team has their favourites…. This show is not just about what I like, or what Terry likes, or Hank or Wade or Anne Allan. It’s about the songs that struck a responsive chord with all of us, with all Canadians,”
According to Gallant, the most notable change to the show is the reworking of the story. The creators decided to streamline the show, making it more documentary-style. Rather than having actors play fictional characters, the actors are playing themselves. This eliminates some bulk, making for a faster paced and even higher energy show than last year. The script has been rewritten to include interesting facts about the music featured in the show.
Another change audiences will notice is the addition of some new faces. Gallant points out that although some familiar faces are gone (performers like Mike Ross and Stephanie Cadman), there have been new ones added. Charlottetown’s Joey Kitson has joined the cast, along with Charlotte Moore, Janet MacEwan, Sandy Winsby, Allan Gillespie and several others. Gallant notes that Ross and Cadman will be missed, although he is incredibly excited about the new additions to the cast.
New songs have been added to the show, with a particular focus on women in the Canadian music industry. For Gallant, it was important to add some female artists who weren’t there last year. Some of the new song include tunes by Heart, Carole Pope, Shania Twain, and Avril Lavigne.
Though the creative team took feedback from many into account when reworking the show, they knew they couldn’t please everyone. On the songs that didn’t make the cut Gallant says, “We could do a new version of Canada Rocks! every year for ten years and still have to leave out songs that should have been there. Hard choices have to made.” He had trouble making such decisions, noting that without the guidance of director Anne Allan, the editing process would have been much tougher. “[Allan] knows better than most how to strike a balance that will work for everybody. She is the engine that moves us along.”
The new and improved Canada Rocks! plays select dates from June 21 to September 29 on the Confederation Centre Mainstage.