While Drayton Entertainment’s performance of Good Ol’ Country Gospel features some classic hymns such as Amazing Grace, I’ll Fly Away and When The Saints Go Marching In, it will also provides theatregoers with performances of songs from some of the greatest artists in country music history.
“Those great gospel songs, and everything from the biggest hymns to the gospel tunes that famous country artists have done like Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, we do some of that music as well. So kind of everything that we can get from that genre we put in the show,” said Jesse Grandmont, who anchors the production.
The show is a mix between a concert and a play, he explained.
“It doesn’t have a plot per se, like Mamma Mia or something like that, but at the same time, we’re not just up there standing and singing – it’s staged and it’s choreographed.”
Every song has at least one person with a special connection to it, he added.
“From the very first note that’s played we hear people singing along with us and they don’t stop until the end of the show. And that’s such a great feeling for us on stages to be able to hear the connections that everyone has with this music.”
While the production is different from the plays that Drayton Entertainment does, it still finds a way to tell a story, Grandmont said.
“We’re not necessarily playing characters – we get to play ourselves up there, and we even get to tell some of our personal stories and personal connections with this music,” he said.
Directed and geography by David Rogers, the show features several talented artists joining Grandmont in the performance, including Matt Ballagh, Erik Larson, Dave Robilliard, Paul Jerry Schwarz, Kate Suhr and Alex Baerg, who also serves as music director.
The performance is also a family affair for Grandmont, whose younger sister Leah Grandmont will be singing and playing fiddle. Having that much talent is only beneficial for the production, he said.
“Everyone on stage is just so multi talented and so committed to the show. It’s just a great crew to be able to work with. Everyone was so gracious in putting it together, and everyone’s so open to doing different things.”
It also provides for a learning experience, Grandmont added.
“I would say that most actors, whether they’re doing a show like this or whether they’re doing a traditional musical theatre show or a concert or a play, you’re always learning from the people that you work with. We’re very lucky that way,” he said.
Unlike other musical productions, none of the performers leave the stage at any point, explained Grandmont.
“If you’re not the lead singer, you’re singing backups or you’re playing an instrument or you’re doing something else in the song.
Accordingly, Good Ol’ Country Gospel offers something for everyone even if they are not religious or don’t like country music.
“There are some people who say well, ‘I didn’t grow up with that music.’ Or I’m not a Christian or whatever it is. This music can be uplifting, and there’s lots of people that can find a connection with this music regardless of faith or belief or upbringing,” he said
“We like to say the same thing with country music, too. There’s people out there who don’t like country but we think that we can convince them with this show.”
The Drayton Entertainment production of Good Ol’ Country Gospel is on stage from August 11 through August 28 at the Drayton Festival Theatre. Tickets are $53 ($32 for youth under 20), available at the box office, by calling 519-638-5555 or toll free at 1-855-drayton (372-9866), or online at www.draytonentertainment.com.