- Student Contributor
It is not every day that you are taken to go see a musical with your class, in which the actors sing out French-Canadian blasphemies and encourage the drinking of whiskey. But is that not what makes it all so entertaining for youth?
Chasse-Galerie is an original Canadian musical performed at Toronto’s famed Soulpepper Theatre. The show, produced Kabin and The Storefront Theatre, with a book adapted by Tyrone Savage—who also plays the show’s antagonist, A.K.A Satan—has music as well as lyrics written by James Smith—who also plays a love interest for one of our protagonists. It is a story based off of a French-Canadian folk tale, in which several ‘Coureur de Bois’ make a deal with the devil to travel to Montreal overnight in order to meet with their lovers for New Year's Eve. As always, sealing a deal with the devil has a catch. Or ends badly. But in this case—spoiler alert—everything turns out fine in the end.
Both most of my peers from school, as well as I, enjoyed the lively performance. One of the main reasons I personally enjoyed the show was because of the environment of it all. The set was the whole theatre space (The Michael Young Theatre), meaning that the actors used their space wisely and in a clever way, seeing that their only set was a large wooden block, a few chairs, as well as a bar stand. There was also an interactive element involved, where actors would go up to where the audience sat, waiting for their cues while remaining in character. The theatre had cabaret-style seats which were available for audience members. Overall, the use of a bar stand, a few chairs, and one big wooden block seems plain.
However, if you were to witness the show for yourself, you would notice that these simple things were supported with the extensive use of lighting and live music. One way to describe the show would be intimate, or immersive. If the characters were in an indoor, or warm environment, the lights would slowly change from white to yellow, and vice versa. As for the music, the occasional musician playing a slow beat on the drums would add onto the show without you even noticing. And audience members are given the opportunity to witness the musicians play. It was always a happy environment when the music was upbeat and the lights yellow. Without giving out too much of the plot, let’s just say that the red lighting were incredibly fitting with the whole idea of Hell.
The other thing is that no matter the scene, there was always a tinge of humor added in here and there. Whether it was a lighthearted joke ‘breaking the fourth wall’, or a sarcastic comment from one of the characters lacing the air, you would always be in a good mood watching the events unfold before you. Although there were a few bad messages along the way—like drinking, sexual themes, cursing, being disloyal to your lover, etc—there was still the idea of loyalty through friendship no matter what the scenario was. Another thing which was enjoyable is the fact that they added in modern elements, such as homosexuality and present-day terminology. It had audience members connect to the story (excluding seeing the devil come out half-dressed, as I highly doubt you would ever want to nor will witness that happen), and not just enjoy it once then be done with it.
Overall, it is a good show for teenagers and adults, and I would personally recommend it to ages 15 and older. It is a story with a twist, bringing crucial Canadian culture to life with a quirky demeanor.
Photo: From left, Nicole Power, Tess Benger, Tyrone Savage, Kat Letwin and Shaina Silver-Baird in Chasse-Galerie. (JOHN GUNDY)