Tent Meeting a musical with gospel flair

The cast of Tent Meeting. Photo courtesy Kate Kading, Rosthern, Sask.

This year’s summer Station Arts Centre performance is taking viewers inside a tent revival with a performance of the Morris Ertman and Ron Reed musical Tent Meeting.

The musical follows a husband and wife through one day in the 1930s life of a small prairie town. Hope for their marriage seems all but gone, when their estranged friend Reverend Phillips returns to town.

According to a description on the Station Arts website, the play includes some “colourful language”, and stars Angela Kemp as Dolly, Neil Minor as George, Leon Willey as Reverend Elroy Phillops, Felix Leblanc as Pastor Ernest Douglas and Jonathan Bruce as Sam.

“It’s a musical built around gospel music,” explained director Johnna Wright.

“There’s people having a crisis of faith, or a crisis in a marriage, and it’s about resolving those life challenges in the context of the tent meeting.”

Rehearsals started in mid-June. In just a few weeks, the show came together. Wright said opening night reception was positive.

“I feel it went really well,” she said. It speaks to the audience, because a lot of their lives have to do with those sorts of issues. I felt like people really connected to it.”

While Wright is the show director, she was helped a great deal by the musical director, Alison Jenkins. Jenkins worked with the arrangements, and with the actors, coaching them on their performances.

“It’s very collaborative,” Wright said. “It’s very much ensemble-based, because you have a quartet that sings in harmony. It really bonds performers when you have to make music together.”

For Wright, there are two main themes that drive the production. One is the different crises the characters go through, while the other is a broader message about religion.

For more on this story, please see the July 12 print or e-edition of the Daily Herald