• Kwende Kefenste Urban Champion
  • Ted Robinson's New Camelot
  • Ontario Scene Editorial
  • Mercury Lounge Rising
  • Questions of Race
  • Soif Wine Bar
Monday, May 17, 2010

Deborah Davis performs in the 2009 edition of A Musical Taste of Our Canadian Heritage


In the hands of the right creative team
, the story of how A Musical Taste of Our Canadian Heritage—the home-grown production soon to hit the stage at the Museum of Civilization for a tenth consecutive year—might itself be an inspiring Broadway show.

And the creator of the show, Deborah Davis, could star as herself: an untrained dreamer who sets out with a tiny budget, a big heart, and a grand vision to turn a love for history into a big-stage production that celebrates Canada through its music.

But even if she never reaches Broadway, Davis would likely say that she has already accomplished most of what she set out to do with the show she created a decade ago and continues to guide as it grows and evolves.

“My aim was to show the history of music in Canada and the history of Canada through music in an entertaining way that audiences—especially students—would find not only educational but also appealing, moving, memorable and inspirational,” Davis told Guerilla.

Davis began singing for children 20 years ago with her band Choonga Changa, then starting making family-friendly musicals that blended history with musical genres. The first success was What is This Thing Called Jazz?, which was locally acclaimed when staged for three years running at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival family day in the mid-90s.

Next, with a $9,900 grant from Canada's Millennium Foundation, Davis breathed life into A Musical Taste of Our Canadian Heritage, now a multilingual, 90-minute production that includes 50 performers and close to 100 pieces of Canadian music, not to mention a 71-page teacher’s manual available in French and English.  

“Both the show and the manual are the culmination of many years of development and networking,” said Davis. “My main financial supporter for this project has been TD Canada Trust. Without their increasing support the project could not have been sustained.”

While Davis has no formal background in musical theatre, she grew up singing in choirs and was introduced to all styles of music by her arts-loving grandmother.

“I knew then that I had a vision to create musical productions,” Davis recalls.

While Davis leads development of A Musical Taste and is the principal singer during performances, she gets lots of help from musical director Peter Beaudoin and just about everyone else who is involved.

“Many of the performers contribute to the ongoing creative aspects of the shows including our musicians, singers, choreographers and dancers,” said Davis. “Our wardrobe team, assisted this year by the Richard Robinson School of Fashion Design, and our technical production team also make important creative contributions.”

This year the production includes a return appearance by the Inuit Cultural Performers—who will open the show with a tribute to the North—as well as a new musical segment that celebrates the last decade of Canadian music.

Five performances are scheduled from May 31 to June 5 at the Museum of Civilization Theatre. For ticket and show time information, visit www.odysseyshowcase.org.