Author, playwright and poet J. (Julie) Ivanel Johnson, an artist with a disability, has received a $20,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to professionally workshop her musical, Rough Notes.
Rough Notes, the musical, is set in the last six months of 1939, partly in Perth Junction, New Brunswick, and partly at Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, Ontario. It is described as being “where the Rurals meet the Royals on the eve of WWII.”
The musical includes culturally-diverse members of the LGBTQIA2SP++, disabled, Black, Indigenous and Puerto Rican communities. It is to be performed at the end of October 2022 by a cast that includes actors Marshall Button, Curtis Sullivan and Riel Reddick-Stevens. Other actors range from a Schitt’s Creek regular to singers from international opera stages and those of Broadway and Toronto.
All of Johnson’s work features and highlights members of culturally-diverse communities. Johnson is also launching a mystery novel this autumn set in the Nackawic area, released by Black Rose, of Castroville, Texas. As characters, the novel has a Black policeman, a Cuban finger-print expert and a Wolastoq post office attendant, all struggling with racism in 1971.
Although Johnson is responsible for the musical’s 16 original songs, it has been developed with arrangements and additional music by young musician Cameron Slipp of Woodstock. The hosting production company for the musical will be McKencroft Productions based out of New Denmark.
The grant money from the Canada Council of the Arts is being used to hire eight professional actor and singers, most with New Brunswick connections, who will perform on October 28 and 29, 2022, at the Second Wind Music Centre in Florenceville-Bristol.
This will be a completely unique experience for the area and, in the months prior to the presentations, school and library readings and displays will help educate residents about musical theatre and, in particular, about the historical and timely relevance of the narrative.
Q.R. Wright is an artists’ support and consultant who represents many authors and musicians in the Atlantic Provinces.