Review: Highland Storm

Review | by Norah Pendergast

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College of Piping
July 8 – August 15

Performed by
House Band: Peter Gallant, Christine Gallant, Max Gallant, and Gilbert Arsenault. Pipe Band: James MacHattie, Kylie MacHattie, Calum Brydon, and Linda Robertson. Drummers: Austin Trenholm, Charlie McBean, and Stephen MacKinnon. Highland and step dance troupes.

Written and Directed by
Peter Gallant

Supported by
Choreographers: Laura Johnstone, Samantha MacKay. Stage Managers, Emma Banman, Samantha Beck. Jennafer Beck (lighting) and Melanie MacKay (wardrobe).

The College of Piping returns to its roots with the 2019 production of “Highland Storm” in the College’s state of the art theatre, which will become the home of a new theatre arts program in the fall. Artistic Director, Peter Gallant has coordinated an ambitious and heartwarming chronicle of the timeline of historic events experienced by waves of Scottish settlers on Prince Edward Island. Interpreted through twenty three musical vignettes, showcasing the College’s champion students of highland and step dance, piping and drumming. The show is dramatized and elevated by powerful lighting and set design, and projections which magically suspend the theatre in time. Director/Performer, Peter Gallant has ascended the professional ranks at the College and leads the cast to inspired performances which pump audiences with Scottish pride. Highland Storm offers mythical sword dances and youthful drummers who twist fun into the ancient military tradition. Punctuating the storyline of resolute Scottish immigrants, step dancers tap detailed percussion and energetic flair onto the stage. Powerful drones and tunes of Bagpipers, led by instructors, James MacHattie and Kylie MacHattie, evoke the ancient collective emotions of agony and victorious power.  Head-spinning costume changes replace kitsch with contemporary and redeem the kilt as wardrobe necessity.

As an example of history designed for public consumption, Highland Storm gently positions Mi’kmaq and Acadian peoples in the timeline of Scottish settlement and commends the support of the Mi’kmaq Confederacy and local historians.

Highlights of the show are the ensemble finales, when the entire musical and dance troupe take the stage and audiences are treated to a tempest of unabashed Scottish pride and glory. The College of Piping’s 2019 production of Highland Storm presents the ideals of Scottish pioneer heritage on PEI and concludes that “There is nothing more fierce than the resolve of a Scotsman.”

Norah Pendergastreview