Montreal festival aims to showcase local talent in a weekend-long series of events
Musical aficionados will be gathering in Montreal for The Next Wave: New Musical Theatre Festival.
Between Sept. 25 and 28, musical theatre will have its time to shine in Montreal as The Next Wave festival belts and dances its way into venues throughout the city.
The festival ̶ which is in its seventh year in Montreal ̶ is meant to showcase the talents of local professionals and amateurs alike, and to celebrate musical theatre as an art form. Festival director Stephen Pietrantoni sings the praises of this unique discipline and aims to entertain any and all ̶ not just your die-hard showtune fan.
“We try and do it in a way that doesn’t intimidate…you can just enjoy it on a visceral human level,” Pietrantoni assures. “A musical, if it is working well, reaches you in the gut first.” It is that mix of accessibility and emotional resonance he hopes will draw healthy crowds to see colourful shows performed live, as well as educational presentations that go behind the scenes of the musical theatre experience.
Pietrantoni, a theatre veteran and graduate of Concordia’s John Molson School of Business, is keen to emphasize the educational side of The Next Wave. The organization behind the festival, The Centre for Education and Theatre in Montreal, which was co-founded by Pietrantoni, strives to develop and support local talent. “Just because you’re [a] great singer, or you’re [a] great piano player…you [still] need to prepare for a whole career,” Pietrantoni points out. “We’ve managed to be a stepping stone for various people over time, and it is always great when you see that working. And we’ve had that kind of luck.”
These ambitions go hand in hand with The Centre for Education and Theatre in Montreal’s other founding principle, which is to help make Montreal a major player on the international stage of musical theatre. The organization helped develop shows that would eventually be shown at Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York, Off-Broadway and even at the White House. Their goal is to help the city become an international capital for musical theatre. “I’d love to have that kind of experience, and [have] that credit happen to us here in Montreal,” Pietrantoni remarked at the prospect of a more visible theatrical presence in the city.
Still, for all his grand plans of grassroots development and global prominence, Pietrantoni pays heed to the simple yet essential pleasures of his craft: the intangible connection between the audience and the performers. “That’s when real magic happens: when you can hear not just the applause, but the silence of an audience that is completely caught up in what you’re saying ̶ and you can tell by that silence that they are with you.” For those interested in taking part in this stimulating experience ̶ or for those who simply enjoy a good song and a fun show ̶ ̶ late September looks like it’ll be a singin’ good time in Montreal.
The Next Wave: New Musical Theatre Festival runs from Sept. 25 to 28.
Events range from free to $20 for students. More information at cetm.ca.