The Guardian (Charlottetown)
Back to his roots
Paul D. Gallant bringing three shows, including reboot of La Cuisine à Mémé, to Mont-Carmel this summer
MONT-CARMEL – After an absence of several years, French-language dinner theatres are coming back to Mont-Carmel this summer, thanks to the efforts of Paul D. Gallant, who developed the original concept of this type of show in the Evangeline region in 1985 and 1986.
In fact, the creator of the former dinner-theatre shows, La Cuisine à Mémé, will be putting on three productions, all of which will play at the Mont-Carmel Parish Hall from July 14 to Aug. 28. One will be a musical, a second will be presented in the original style of La Cuisine à Mémé (including skits and a musical portion) and the third is a matinee by and for children.
These musical and theatrical productions will be accompanied by meals prepared by chef Andrew Fisk of À la Cuisine.
Gallant realizes the pandemic restrictions will limit his audience a bit, but he feels it is important to give some hope and work to performing artists. His new company, Les Productions Cuisine à Mémé 2021, aims not only to create jobs, but also to promote artistic and community development.
This summer's flagship production will be Les filles de la factrie (The Girls from the Factory), which will play Wednesdays to Saturdays, 7 p.m. (28 shows).
The company will consist of seven female actors, singers and musicians. The story takes place in a fish plant in the old days; the workers are not allowed to talk at work. One day, one of the workers pours a potion, concocted from an old family recipe, into the floor lady’s tea, which makes her sleep all day. The girls agree to do their jobs, but still take time to chat, tell jokes, dance and sing, making for a fun evening with lively old-time music.
The second production, which will play on Tuesdays (July 20 to Aug. 24, 7 p.m.), offers a return to the first years of the dinner-theatre shows at the old Acadian Pioneer Village in the mid-1980s.
At that time, the character of Mémé was a puppet, a kind of mistress of ceremonies. She and the rest of the company performed comic sketches based on various characters. La Cuisine à Mémé rebootée will see a return to that original concept of the Mémé grandmother character as a puppet, with skits and music at the end of the evening.
"However, all the musical material, the script for Mémé and the skits will be brandnew," promises the author and artistic director.
And since the cast of the first play is exclusively female, the cast of this second production will be mostly male.
The concept of the third morning show has two objectives. The first is to create a space for young artists (ages seven to 12) to perform in preparation for the day when they will take their place alongside professional artists in the main shows. Le Paysan et le Roi (The Peasant and the King), presented in the style of old-time children’s stories, is aimed at a young audience. It will be presented in two acts with a combined duration of 25 minutes.
A short musical section will be added to showcase the singing, dancing and musical talent of the Young Company.
The second objective is to provide the public, especially young families, with an activity designed with them in mind. A special children's menu (hotdogs, fries, treats, etc.) will be offered.
The show will be presented on Saturdays at noon from July 17 to Aug. 28.
Additional details, including cast, menu and ticket sales, will be announced in the coming weeks.