SUMMERSIDE – Break out the stompin’ boots and grab a swig of the shine – because “The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom” is coming to Summerside.
The Harbourfront Theatre announced Friday that the popular musical production about the life of P.E.I.’s adopted prodigal son will have a new home on its main stage for 2014.
Catherine O’Brien, Harbourfront Theatre artistic director, will direct the production.
Opening night is June 28.
That’s music to the ears of Kieran Keller, general manager of the theatre.
This will be the biggest show the theatre has ever done, said Keller.
“It’s a big undertaking, but we’ve wanted to step up the game and what better project to do it with,” he said.
Keller told the assembled delegates, including Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart, MP Gail Shea and Tourism Minister Robert Henderson, that this production will be the first in a new yearly festival that the theatre hopes to grow into the future.
Harbourfront Theatre is getting funding from ACOA’s Business Development Program ($130,000) and the P.E.I. 2014 fund ($30,000), to help bring in the show for the big sesquicentennial year. The funding is being used buy new equipment and secure the rights to the show.
The play was written by David Scott of London, Ontario, with significant input from Connors himself. Its original run was mostly in Ontario but was performed at the Mackenzie Theatre in Charlottetown in 2008.
The plot involves an adult version of Tom Connors putting on a concert with many of his most popular songs, and veers off on various vignettes from his childhood and his teen years spent roaming the country.
“His story is just epic, what he went through as a child and how he became what he is to all of us – he’s sort of the everyman who rose above all the hardships,” said O’Brien.
She actually has a special connection to this play, having played various roles in the production while he was in Charlottetown and Ontario. So this is familiar ground for her.
The cross-section of people who are attracted to this show is quite interesting, she said.
“I’ve seen people come to the theatre who I don’t think are normal theatre goers. People who just love his music and want to come see it. But there’s also the regular theatre goers who will love it because it’s a great story,” she said.
She added that further announcements regarding casting will take place at a later time.
Tickets for the “The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom,” go on sale at the Harbourfront Theatre box office on April 26.
The theatre is aiming for six shows a week right up until Aug. 30.