Deryl Gallant has excelled as a bass player, thanks to Feast Dinner Theatre.
He lives a double life, like a spy.
By day, Deryl Gallant is an I.T. manager for Cogsdale. Come night, he’s all ‘bout that bass while strumming chords on a stage to a captured cheering crowd, before returning to his large, caring family.
This success all began – more than 20-years ago – with an audition for a Feast Dinner Theatre production.
“My first show was called, ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ and it was all Motown. I was in Heaven as a bassist. I played the character Vince Vain, the tough guy in prison. It was so hard for me to pretend to be tough because I was naturally shy, but one of my directors helped me find my character,” said Gallant.
“By suggesting I stick a toothpick in my mouth, I listened and instantly found my swagger. I had so much fun bossing the cast around and telling customers to clear their own darn plates! And when my family came to see the show, they were shocked,” he continued.
“I found my confidence in life and it’s stuck with me for good.”
The demands of Feast will put cast members through every imaginable register – as they seamlessly transition from server to singer, instrumentalist, dancer, storyteller, and improvisation – while nailing it.
“It’s a rollercoaster of course. I remember genuinely lovely crowds of people, who appreciated the talent and the entertainment. I also remember seeing a cast member having a beer thrown in their face and having to remove said audience member. There was that time a food fight broke out, but all in all the good times outweigh the crazy times,” shared Gallant.
“We were taught great techniques by our directors on how to diffuse situations and make it funny, how to get an audience back, and so on.”
Gallant enjoyed his time with Feast so much that he went on to star in a few more summer productions, including a couple of Christmas shows. But it didn’t stop there. Feast offered Gallant the fantastic opportunity to direct a couple of productions.
“I directed Survivor and a murder mystery show infused with 80’s music. Preparing to direct those shows really gave me the skills to work with a band, musicians, and singers,” he said.
After Feast, Gallant got wrapped in an I.T. career and his music slid away.
“In 2011, after the death of my mother, I realized I had lost the importance of music in my life and set forth a plan to get back into the scene,” he reflected.
“I’ve been very blessed over these last eight years. In 2015, I was the Doug Riley artist for the P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Festival, and I won Music P.E.I. Musician of the Year.”
Gallant performed as the bassist for the ‘Winterjazz’ series – hosting talented artists from around the Atlantic provinces. The last two summers, he played bass for Tara Maclean in Atlantic Blue and is the primary bassist on her newest album, Deeper.
“I’ve been a part of several other recording projects including; Brian Dunn, Bryson Guptil, Andrew Melzer, Mike Ross, Kelley Mooney, Jill Chandler, Amanda Jackson Band, to name but a few. In a nutshell, I think I’m the luckiest, no, most fortunate bassist on the province,” Gallant said.
Gallant said he made life-long friends and developed long-lasting professional relationships, thanks to Feast.
“There’s a special club feeling when you discover you and another person were both ‘Feasties.’ There’s a silent understanding knowing what was accomplished. I would truly not be the same successful person I am today in my I.T. and music career without Feast.”
When asked if any aspects of Feast have ever come into play with his music career, Gallant, without hesitation, said every single day.
“When coaching people either on stage presence or how to have a phone call with a customer, I often will relay how I succeeded in my first corporate I.T. job. I was hired as a support analyst for a big company in 2005. I had never worked in an office before. I had never worked a day in customer service (other than Feast) and here I was expected to fix applications and call office professionals.
“Using our software in high-stress situations and easing their mind – how did I succeed? I played a character every day called, ‘Deryl the I.T. guy.’ I’d get on calls and just be sincerely confident (even if I wasn’t) and I became a trusted resource. Just like Vince Vain’s toothpick, I found what worked for the character until it felt natural and to this day.”
Gallant concluded with some sage words of advice for current and future Feast cast members.
“Find your character, I mean that on many levels. Appreciate your role in the show, I also mean that on varying levels. Understand that you’re part of a gift to these paying customers, where they’re part of something unique and special – as Tara MacLean says every show of Atlantic Blue, ‘It’s the only time that configuration of people will be together for that one night, so make it special for each and every one of them.”
Auditions are being held for the upcoming Christmas show, ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside. Call 902-432-9339 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the musical comedy.