By: Via Reyes
Two years after its premiere, the hit musical “Evangeline” has made a terrific comeback on to the stage of The Confederation Centre of the Arts as part of the Charlottetown Festival and this time in partnership with Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. “Evangeline,” based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem of the same title, tells the story of a courageous heroine who faces trial and tribulation head on to reunite with her one true love and the incredible resilience of a people who happen to lose everything but faith and heart. Set in the mid-1700s, “Evangeline” gives an account of the displacement of Acadians from their homes on the Atlantic coast due to the French-English conflicts that were taking place during that time.
Ted Dykstra’s masterfully produced script and musical score is stunningly executed by an outstanding cast and crew under the direction of Bob Baker. Lively song and dance numbers had me smiling non-stop, making me want nothing more than to get up and join them in their fun and the heart wrenching performances when times were harder left a heaviness on my soul. With this production’s outstanding cast, along with the intricate costumes and stunning set design, it felt effortless to be completely immersed in the world of Evangeline. The overall production, from the lights to the orchestra to the beautifully balanced sound, was such a pleasure to experience. Throughout the entire performance, I felt I was right there with her on her personal journey, traveling with her through wild terrain and the great unknown and growing old with her as the years flew by. Josée Boudreau delivered her captivating portrayal of Evangeline Bellefontaine with outstanding passion and excellence and with the support of Jay Davis, who plays Evangeline’s Gabriel Lajeunesse, the duo manages to successfully convey the power of unconditional and undying love. Evangeline displayed sheer physical, emotional, and spiritual strength throughout her life powered by her unwavering love and heroines like this one is something that I would like to see a lot more of in literature, theatre, and film.
Being an international student, I was not familiar with much of Canada’s history but this musical cast a light on the richness of culture spread across this country and it opened my eyes to a much bigger world than I was previously aware of. It pained me to think about the Acadians being forced out of their homes and scattered across the southern states to fend for themselves. Hardship like this is still prevalent and, with the heartbreaking events happening in the world today, I believe it is so important to continue to produce art like this that gives humanity hope and helps people realize the strength within themselves to fight for something they hold dear. Despite the suffering that takes place, this musical also highlights the unity of the human race, reminding us how even if we are all from different placed with different backgrounds and cultures, we are all part of the same world and these differences are what we should be sharing and celebrating together.
I personally want to thank everyone who worked so hard to bring “Evangeline” back onto the stage and to Fraser McCallum for the invitation to witness this phenomenal production. I have loved and seen many musicals since I was a little girl and this one is definitely one to remember. “Evangeline” will be playing until October 10 for a four-week run at the Confederation Centre of the Arts here in Charlottetown and then will be travelling to Edmonton to perform at the Citadel Theatre, so grab your tickets while you can. This is one epic performance you will not want to miss.
Click here for more information about “Evangeline,” its production, and the wonderful people who brought it all together.