Fiddlers, dancers, singers, a piper, a Gaelic story-teller and a lively crowd of neighbours are all coming together at the deCoste Centre Sunday, Sept. 23 for A Keppoch Wedding.
The theatrical concert or musical comedy sold out all three Antigonish shows and the Pictou performance will be the last.
The songs and stories all unfold in a 1940s farmhouse on top of Keppoch Mountain where three generations of MacLeans are hosting the wedding of Boston’s Bessie Beaton who is bringing home an Irish beau to marry. It is the sixth in a series of shows produced by Duncan MacDonald and the Society for the Ships of 1801, a successor to the Keppoch Kitchen Party and A Keppoch Wake which were staged previously at the deCoste.
“The Keppoch people are pretty determined to put on a good show for Bessie in spite of the fact the church blew down in a gale and refreshments are in short supply due to a little problem with the Mounties,” said MacDonald.
The show features two dozen songs, a wide selection of music, a variety of stories and witty exchanges between neighbours.
“Some people come for the jokes and the laughs but the feedback we are getting is that the music is also very impressive. We’ve got very talented performers, all of them gifted and many of them professionally trained,” he said.
Soloists include Ann Holton singing Rita MacNeil’s Home I’ll Be, Erin Brockelhurst performing the traditional Irish Carrickfergus and Katey Aucoin, who also fiddles and dances, singing a song written specifically for Bessie’s wedding. The other “homemade ballads” include such titles as Whisky’s Running Low, Billy Murphy’s Pig, and with a nod to modern times, Fake News.
Given it is meant to be a stylish wedding, the Keppoch women have worn out the Eaton’s catalogue and the costume department is promising “more feathers than a chicken coop.”
The cast of characters may be familiar, personally or through story, to anyone who has grown up in rural northern Nova Scotia, said MacDonald.
“We’ve got sharp-tongued Maggie MacLean who is running the wedding, like it or not, and her husband, Joe who is busy lamenting the loss of the Gaelic. We’ve got an old bachelor, a farmer who is quite political, the fashionable girls from Boston, a likeable moonshiner, a very determined Mountie, a musical parish priest and a great group of young people.”
MacDonald said the show offers lots of laughter, amazing music and an easy intimacy with the audience.
“It all happens in a country farmhouse where people are used to pushing back the chairs to make room for the fiddlers and dancers. We invite people to find a seat on the stairs or squeeze onto the woodbox and just sit back and enjoy.”
More information, including inside stories and photos, can be found on the Ships of 1801 webpage. Showtime is 2 p.m.