Neville Bowman as Theodore Gericault from a scene of “Raft: a Rock Opera”. Image contributed

Okanagan rock opera hits the stage again

Okanagan-written and produced, “RAFT a rock opera”, hits the Kelowna stage this month

When it first hit the Kelowna stage in 2015 it wowed local crowds and now it’s back to do it again.

Okanagan-written RAFT a Rock Opera is taking over the Mary Irwin Theatre in Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts from Sept. 13 to 16, 2017.

“It is homegrown and wonderful. The cast is phenomenal. I got involved again because I fell in love with it,” said Christine Daley, production/stage manager for the show, who also worked on the original production.

“We feel so many people missed out on this wonderful opportunity two years ago. We had to do it again.”

The musical is the brainchild of Randall Robinson and Pat Brown.

It is being called an ‘epic rock musical’ that chronicles one of the worst naval disasters in French history.

Through the incompetence of her arrogant captain, the Medusa reportedly ran aground in 1816. At that time there were not enough life boats so 151 sailors were set adrift on a makeshift raft.

“Condemned, as it would turn out, to unthinkable depravity and suffering,” reads the musical’s description.

Two years later an eccentric French painter, Theodore Gericault, read a factual account of this tragedy and painted Le Radeau De La MeduseThe Raft of the Medusa, a painting that became an icon of French Romanticism.

The rock opera tells the story of the tragedy through Gericault’s eyes.

Since its debut in 2015, it was taken to the O-Zone Theatre Festival in Salmon Arm where it won trophies for best musical ensemble, best musical direction (Robinson) and best costume design (Anne Ramey).

Related: Okanagan Zones wrap with gala award ceremony

“The adjudicator in Salmon Arm said this was the ‘next Canadian rock opera’, that it is going to just rock the world, so to speak,” said Daley.

“If I were to see this on Broadway I would equate it with something like RENT, it has a great story and the music just tells the story. It is a rock opera, it’s an opera. If you loved RENT or The Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables, this can run parallel, it is just unknown. The music is worthy of recognition.”

Eventually the show’s creators hope the rock opera gains traction outside of the Okanagan and lands on even bigger stages.

Neville Bowman has reprised his role as the tortured artist, Theodore Gericault. and two other cast members from the original production have taken on new lead Roles—Penticton’s Dustin McGifford as Henry Savigny and Penticton’s Annie Scott as Alexandrine De Saint Martin.

“I’ve been involved with musical theatre for 40 years and it rocked my world,” added Daley.

Tickets are $30 (adults) and $25 (students, seniors) and are available online now at or by phone at 250-717-5304.

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Cal Mieklejohn from Penticton, who portrays Uncle Jean Baptiste De Saint- Martin, in front of the original RAFT at the Louvre. Image contributed

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