PROVENANCE by Ronnie Burkett. Presented by CanStage and Rink-A-Dink-Inc at CanStage (26 Berkeley). See listings, page 52, for details. When you go to a Ronnie Burkett show, it's storyteller Burkett and his magical gallery of adult puppets that you're paying to see. But one of the unsung heroes of shows like Happy and Street Of Blood is Cathy Nosaty, who's designed the sound and music for his last five shows, including Provenance, opening tonight (January 15) at CanStage.
How good is Nosaty? When Provenance toured to Vancouver last December, someone said her atmospheric score fit the show so well it hardly got noticed.
"I take that as a huge compliment," laughs Nosaty, a former Winnipegger now based in Toronto. "If a score is really working with the visual images and story, you shouldn't notice it. You should come away feeling changed, inspired or moved, but you shouldn't be thinking about the music."
For Provenance, a look at love, art and beauty that includes scenes in a Vienna brothel and a Paris nightclub, Nosaty expanded her aural palette. The piano figures prominently, and so does a string quartet.
"Theatre scoring doesn't tell a story specifically," she explains, "it helps bring the audience to the same space and give them focus."
To suggest Paris in the 1920s, she and Burkett discussed trying to write something evoking Django Reinhardt.
"It was daunting," she laughs. "Why not just use Reinhardt himself? But when I dropped my fear and focused on the characters, I came up with something, and some great local musicians contributed to the track."
What she enjoys about collaborating with Burkett is his own musicality - Burkett designs everything except his shows' sound and lighting - and the fact that she's granted a lot of freedom.
The two also share a similar vision, one that's been developed over a decade. Nosaty recalls watching Burkett during Provenance's first previews in Edmonton.
"I heard his voice in a whole new way," she explains.
"It seemed like the music was written with his voice as the main instrument."