Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'War Horse' Song Person Melanie Doane Says Show's Folk Tunes Feel Natural to Her: Melanie Doane Returns to Roots in 'War Horse'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'War Horse' Song Person Melanie Doane Says Show's Folk Tunes Feel Natural to Her: Melanie Doane Returns to Roots in 'War Horse'

Article excerpt

TORONTO - Juno Award-winning pop singer/songwriter Melanie Doane was hesitant when first asked to try out for the role of Song Person No. 1 in the hit Toronto production of "War Horse."

"I got a call maybe eight months ago saying, 'Would you like to go audition for this show?' and I thought, 'I need that like a hole in the head. I'm too busy! How would I do that?'" the mother of two said in a recent interview at Mirvish Productions' Princess of Wales Theatre, where the play recently opened to glowing reviews.

At the time, Doane didn't know anything about the play, which is based on Michael Morpurgo's novel about a British boy and his beloved horse during the First World War. The horses and other animals in the show are represented by majestic life-sized puppets made of cane and mesh.

As the Halifax-raised Doane learned about the story, she felt strong ties to both its English history and its folk music.

Now she realizes, "There are so many levels that make it right for me," she said.

"There's a lot of history and a lot of connection to England in the East Coast still. We're very traditional, we're very tied to our English roots, very, very much so," explained Doane, whose songs have been featured in TV series including "Being Erica," "Flashpoint" and "Brothers & Sisters."

"When the Queen comes to Nova Scotia it is a big deal. I've stood on the street many, many times to see the Queen or Lady Di or whoever. So I feel very connected, and also because of the music.

"It's kind of like falling off a log to play this kind of music. Not that it's that easy, but it's so natural.... It's part of my culture."

As Song Person No. 1 in "War Horse," Doane is onstage playing the fiddle and singing traditional folk music by songmaker John Tams. Accompanying her on accordion occasionally is Tatjana Cornij (a.k.a. Song Person No. 2). The two are dressed as English country villagers.

Doane and Cornij are the only live instrumentalists in the show, which has a pre-recorded orchestral score by Adrian Sutton. …

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