This morning I was randomly watching CP24’s coverage of Conclave 2013: The Hunt for the World’s Next Papal Superstar. Though a devout atheist, I find religion utterly fascinating in its ability to guide societies towards regrowth and destruction. And as I watched, and Catholics both locally and internationally were questioned about their future papal desires, I was struck by a dominant trend: nationalism. The correspondent in South America found mostly supporters of Odilo Scherer, the Italians were advocating vehemently for Angelo Scola and, on our home turf, Toronto devotees believe that the first Canadian Cardinal, Marc Ouellette, will become the first non European to liaise directly with God.
And aside from furthering my disenchantment with religion as a hub of pseudo-politics and nepotistic hierarchy, I started to think about – you guessed it – musical theatre. We cheer loudly for our homegrown sports teams; we love to celebrate a breakout Canadian musician; and today, the frenzy in Canada is that we may finally be represented in the legacy of the Vatican. Where I wonder if this holds true, though, is on the musical theatre stage.
We recently presented a new Canadian musical, Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata, and as I mentioned last week the show did not have lineups out the door every night. For a populace who is so often invigorated by their true patriot love, why do new Canadian musicals have such a hard time gaining traction in our country? Ask most any Torontonian what they’re favorite musicals are and they’ll likely run the gamut from Wicked to Parade. Heck, you may even get the Tony Award Winning The Drowsy Chaperone thrown in there. But what will be glaringly absent from mostly every set of responses are the multitude of new Canadian musicals happening every day of the year on this side of the border, the Come From Aways and the Bloodless-es.
Why do we tend to migrate so far south in our quest to find musical theatre inspiration? Perhaps it’s because, as a country, we’re still finding our own voice in the genre, and still nurturing talent who have ambled aimlessly without a true homegrown legacy to grow into. But why don’t we feel the furious pride at the premiere of a New Canadian musical no matter what it’s content, the way we would if the Papal crown and ruby red slippers falls to a fils-de-Quebec?
But then, maybe I’m completely off-base. Maybe your heart does swell at the creation of new Canadian musical theatre and you can recite every Musical Works in Concert presented since its inception. I’d love to hear what you think!