By Eric Bourque
A local musical that was very well received when presented to Yarmouth County audiences last year is headed overseas this summer and the show’s writer/director says everyone involved is pretty excited.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Yvette d’Entremont, who created La voix de la mer and who last September was contacted about presenting the musical in France at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer, in Normandy, as part of La semaine acadienne, an annual festival to be held this August.
“They had seen the video,” d’Entremont said. “I have a promo video of the show that shows little excerpts of the show and they had seen that through (Yarmouth County native) Gerry Boudreau, who works there and is a great liaison there for Acadians, and they were so impressed with what they saw, especially that it was promoting the youth talent from here, and so they asked me if I would (go).”
The plan is to present two performances of La voix de la mer during the French festival as part of an activity-filled visit that also will include ceremonies commemorating this year as the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
“It’s actually one of the first spots that would have been liberated on D-Day by Canadian soldiers and, more specifically, the North Shore Regiment from New Brunswick, which was mostly made up of Acadians,” d’Entremont said, “so they have a great affinity to Acadians and want to continue thanking us.”
Seventeen cast and crew – not as many as were involved in the production last year – are slated to make the trip, along with about an equal number of people to accompany them and cheer them on.
D’Entremont has been preparing for this since September and rehearsals began in January, with the early focus on the music. That some of the cast members were in university complicated things. Scheduling in general – juggling people’s time, summer jobs etc. – has been the biggest challenge, d’Entremont said.
“It’s been nightmarish at times, but I know in the end it always works out,” she said. “I know I shouldn’t work myself up about that.”
La voix de la mer, which was performed last year at the Par-en-Bas theatre in Tusket, tells the story of a community and its relationship with the sea.
There is a tragedy in the story and there were real-life tragedies involving young men and the sea as d’Entremont and her cast were preparing for the show in the winter of 2013. First there was the death of former Par-en-Bas student Mike Doucette, who was lost while lobster fishing, and then there was the sinking of the Miss Ally and the loss of five fishermen from Shelburne County.
It was a difficult time for everyone, d’Entremont said, recalling the early months of last year, but work on the show went ahead and the finished product was a hit.
“Some of the kids are still approached and praised for their work,” she said. “Lots of positive feedback.”
D’Entremont – a Par-en-Bas teacher who has been involved in many theatrical productions over the years – said she’s proud of her actors, whom she describes as a very talented and dedicated group.
It’s a great honour, she said, to have been invited to present the show in France.
“We appreciate all the support from the community,” she said. “We appreciate the support as well from all the enterprises and the companies who’ve donated some money to get us to France and we hope that we make them proud and we’re hoping to make the entire community and Nova Scotia proud as well.”