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New College of Piping production 'Great Scot!' offers theatrical journey through time

World champion Highland dancer Daniel Carr leaps into the air during a rehearsal scene for the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts summer show, Great Scot!
World champion Highland dancer Daniel Carr leaps into the air during a rehearsal scene for the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts summer show, Great Scot! - Desiree Anstey

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — A multiple Gemini and Canadian screen award winner has written, directed and helped choreograph a summer production that’s ready to raise spirits in Summerside, and bring to life Scotland’s most notable historical figures in the new custom-designed Celtic Performing Arts Centre.

Along with the help of a world-class team, Shelagh O’Brien has cherry picked local performers to seamlessly transport the audience through time and place with military-precision dancing, silky smooth Celtic harmonies, storytelling and enchanting musical numbers in “Great Scot!.”

“My goal is to celebrate the Celtic arts that are being taught at the college, raise the bar theatrically and give people an experience that makes them want to return again and again, because it’s a fundraiser for the centre,” she said.

The stage is laid out as a colossal ancient clock tower, which is home to the main character Angus, a clockmaker. With dramatic lighting, projection and choreography, Angus magically stops the spinning hands of time to transport the audience forward or back through centuries of Scottish history.

“Angus stops time to give us a snapshot of an historical figure, and even if you are not Scottish, you’ve probably heard of Mary, Queen of Scots, Robert the Bruce, or Alexander Graham Bell, to name but a few,” said O’Brien.

“My hope is that the show is memorable and people come away learning more about each of the great Scots. But this is not a history lesson; it’s entertainment.”

Peter Gallant, music director, says the Highland summer production is at the “heart and soul” of the college.

“This show is about the pipers, the drummers, dancers and singers of this college, and what they teach here at such a high level. We’ve done everything to frame these elements scene by scene or Scot by Scot, in this particular case,” he said.

“We have a Highland pipe band with Scottish drums and a house band where there are four live multi-instrumentalists that will sometimes sound like 11, through the assistance of technology,” added Gallant, who noted the skills and talents of students and instructors will be brought to light.

The production’s title sponsor is the Confederation Bridge.

“We are excited to renew our affiliation with College of Piping and the production of ‘Great Scot!’ Our maintenance team were proud to be a part of the set build and we hope you like what you see,” said Michel Lechasseur, general manager of Confederation Bridge.

The show runs three to five nights a week until Aug. 17. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the performance starts at 7:30 p.m.

For more information or to book tickets, visit www.CollegeOfPiping.com or call 902-436-5377.

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