|Why couldn't someone have loaned Diarmid a watch for this photo?|
|Rock opera melds two loves
--Charles able to combine passions for writing, music in Room to Breathe
by Jenny Gabruch
Michael A. Charles is a playwright and a musician. It was only a matter of time before his two passions merged.
The result is Room to Breathe, a rock opera being staged at the Mendel Art Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition, Qu'Appelle: Tales of Two Valleys.
"I consider writing equally as important to me as the songwriting," said Charles. "This gives me an excuse to combine them."
Room to Breathe, co-written by Andrew Hall, is about a young man quarantined at the Fort San tuberculosis sanatorium in the Qu'Appelle Valley in the early 1900s. Cut off from the outside world, he turns to fantasy.
"It has a melancholy tone but there's elements I would have to characterize as pretty silly comedy."
The work features more than a dozen original songs, a four-piece band, five actors plus video sequences. While it's a fantasy there are nods to Fort San's history including a scene about a visit by the Prince of Wales, who toured the San in 1919.
Charles says people can expect a big sound from the production.
"There's loud power chords, big drums, screeching guitar effects - it is a rock 'n' roll show."
Charles and Hall have played together in various bands since they were teenagers. Their pop and jazz-influenced duo, The Band Known As Sea Water Bliss, has been around for about two years.
This is the second time they've collaborated on a project with the Mendel. Last year they wrote six songs to complement the works of Calgary artist John Will, performing them during the gallery's Something on Sunday's [sic] program.
"When they said there might be a chance to put on a rock opera I leapt at the opportunity."
Room to Breathe opens Wednesday and runs to June 22 at 7 p.m. at the Mendel. Tickets are $10. Free admission to Tuesday's preview and the June 23 matinee.
Copyright 2002 The StarPhoenix
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