Despite the absence of spectators for the second year in a row, the big National Day parade that will air Thursday night will be among the most ambitious in the event’s history.
Journalists who visited the site on Monday were able to gauge the scale of this production, in which more than 200 artists will participate.
Between the north facade of the Fairmount Manoir Richelieu and the St. Lawrence River, a massive six-lane platform was erected on sloping grounds, never designed to accommodate such infrastructure.
“It’s amazing,” says Mary May, who sings and acts as a spokesperson for the festivities.
In addition, hundreds of Quebec flags have been scattered throughout the building, all of which are clearly visible. No, there will be no controversy this year.
Unlike last year, in Trois-Rivieres, we’ll see Quebec flags on display.
The stage, which took 10 days to set up, is 223 feet wide and 108 feet deep. They say respecting physical distancing will help.
By comparison, the width Celine Dion used during her last show on the Plains of Abraham was 190 feet by 137 feet.
“The technical challenge is enormous. It is the national holiday show that has done the most massive in recent years, perhaps in all of history,” says producer Sylvain Barent-Bedard.
Producer Sylvain Barent-Bedard during rehearsals for the National Day Show, at Manoir Richelieu, in La Malbay.
Manoir Richelieu will serve as the background and display surface during the show. “He will become a character,” that is what director Jean-Francois Blaise defines.
Several stars, including Corneille, Marie-Mai, 2 Frères, Louis-Jean Cormier and Charlotte Cardin, attended rehearsals on Monday before taping the two-hour show on Tuesday night. Although the heart of the action will be in La Malbaie, other areas of Quebec will be highlighted during the show through pre-recorded performances.
Corneille at work against the backdrop of the St. Lawrence River on Monday during rehearsals.
“We’re walking around to be a bit of a postcard. We’re going to the Magdalen Islands, in Gaspe. We’re definitely going to Quebec and Montreal. I’ve focused on the east of the province, which is very rich in landscapes,” says Jean-François Blaise.
Jean Francois Bliss during
Since the theater does not have a roof, all that remains is to hope that the rain will keep away from La Malbaie for the next couple of days.
Hosted by Charlotte Cardin, Louis-Jean Cormier, Cornel, Saramy, Samien and Cour de Beret, it will be shown on TV at 8pm on Thursdays on TVA, Ici Radio-Canada Télé, Télé-Québec and Noovo before resuming, delayed, on TV5 Monde.
Quebec’s national holiday offerings follow one another, but are less similar.
The diversity of musical genres, gender and cultural communities will be at the heart of this show more than ever, which will stand out clearly from the large gatherings of Saint-Jean-Baptiste last year.
In the group of six painters, there are three men and three girls, among whom are two black-skinned artists and a First Nations representative.
This mosaic will be reflected in the selection of songs. Urban music, in particular rap, will take a greater place along with the usual classics of Quebec song.
“I’m glad rap takes its place at events of this magnitude and is seen in the same way as pop or folk music,” rejoices co-host and rapper Sarahmée.
“There are a lot of themes emerging around diversity, racism and our history, and that is reflected in the show. It is worth celebrating the fact that we are moving forward and being open to other people’s stories,” adds Mary May.
The topic of the hour, the damned pandemic, will not be forgotten, as director Jean-Francois Blaise promised.
“From the beginning, we’ve been talking about this storm because we’ve all lived it and we all hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he promises.
Raymond Levesque, Andre Gagnon and other top missing persons of the past year will also be honored, it is assured.
“Total coffee aficionado. Travel buff. Music ninja. Bacon nerd. Beeraholic.”