Evangeline (musical)

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Concept Album
Music Paul Dykstra
Lyrics Paul Dykstra
Jamie Wax
Book Jamie Wax
Basis Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's 1847 epic poem Evangeline
Productions 1998 Episcopal school of Baton Rouge
1999 Louisiana State University
1999 Lafayette concert
1999 Shreveport concert
2000 PBS

Evangeline is a musical with a book by Jamie Wax, lyrics by Wax and Paul Dykstra, and music by Dykstra.

Peopled by characters introduced by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1847 epic poem of the same name, it tells the tale of Evangeline Bellefontaine and Gabriel Lajeunesse, born on the same mid-18th century day in the Acadian village of Grand-Pré in Nova Scotia. The two forge a bond that strengthens as they grow older, and they eventually become engaged. Their lives are disrupted when they are separated by British soldiers who invade the community and disperse the residents among the American colonies. Evangeline's search for her fiancé takes her on a long journey from the New England seacoast to the Louisiana bayous, where she settles in St. Martin and faithfully waits for the arrival of her beloved. Years later she joins local priest Father Felician to assist him in his ministrations to the still-homeless Acadians roaming along the Atlantic seabord, a fateful move that unexpectedly brings her closer to her destiny.

In 1995, inspired by a children's theatre production about the Acadian expulsion, music teacher Paul Taranto began working on a musical adaptation of the story. Three years later, he approached actor/playwright/lyricist Wax with a collection of songs he had written and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on the project. Unable to commit himself at the time, he recommended Taranto work with mutual friend Danny Tiberghein, who taught at the same school and had a theatrical background. When Tiberghein later was killed, Wax agreed to complete the musical with Taranto as a memorial to him.

Production history[edit]

In November 1998, Evangeline was presented in concert form at the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. The reaction was favorable enough for the creative team to pool their resources and finance the recording of a concept album.

The first full-scale production of the show, directed by Paige Parsons-Wax, was mounted at Louisiana State University in June 1999. Taranto conducted the orchestra and Wax played one of the secondary roles. Two months later, there were two concert performances, one in Lafayette and the other at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport. The latter was taped by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and in October 2000 aired on PBS stations throughout the United States and Canada.

The PBS production starred Ana Maria Andricain as Evangeline, Rod Weber as Gabriel, and Andre Chapoy as Father Felician, backed by the Centenary College Choir, the Texas Street Singers, and the Children's Choir of the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge.

Evangeline was staged at the Baton Rouge Little Theatre in 2004. It was directed Paige Parsons Gagliano, while composer Paul Taranto was musical director. Andre Chapoy appeared once more as Father Felician.

Seven years later "Evangeline" was presented as a full-scale production at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The show was presented by the Dunham School's Theatre Department and was directed again by Paige Parsons Gagliano. Judy Snow acted as musical director while Lisa Hooks-Murray was the show's choreographer. Lighting design was done by Louis Gagliano. Evangeline was played by Mary Elizabeth Drake, Teen Evangeline by Madisonne Meredith, Child Evangeline by Maggie Boudreaux, Gabriel by Roston Jarrell,Teen Gabriel by Adam Corbett, Child Gabriel by Gray Fagan, and Father Felician by Quinn Miller. The show opened on February 7, 2011 and had its final performance two days later.

Song list[edit]

  • Prologue: The Forest Primeval
  • The Village of Grand Pré
  • The Game of Life
  • Someday
  • To Our Memories
  • My Guardian
  • Father Forgive Them
  • Act One Finale
  • Starting Again
  • Blessed Lady
  • Worth the Wait
  • Matt from Ville Platte
  • There Are Days
  • If I Know Men
  • Trust Your Heart
  • Someday (Reprise)
  • Epilogue
  • Worth the Wait (Solo Version)

External links[edit]