Alumna singing her way into Canada’s heart with superstar
Dharma Bizier’s voice is capturing hearts and minds across Canada. The 2019 Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance alumna is touring the country with multi-platinum, Juno award winning, singer-songwriter Johnny Reid on his 2022 Canadian tour, Love Someone: An Intimate Evening with Johnny Reid.
Reid’s tour is set to be one of the longest running artist tours in Canadian history with over 100 shows planned over the next few months. Bizier opens the show for Reid with three songs from the musical Maggie, formerly known as My Bonnie Lass, which Reid has been developing. Bizier is set to play the lead in Maggie next year.
“This whole thing actually started with the CMTP. In my fourth year at Sheridan, instead of doing a staged reading, we did a full-fledged production of My Bonnie Lass.”
Taking some time out of her busy schedule while on the Western Canada leg of the tour, Bizier recently shared her experience and talked about the road that’s taking her to success as an artist.
Q. It has been three years since you graduated and here you are, on tour with a legend like Johnny Reid. How does that feel?
Dharma Bizier: It's just a dream come true. You grow up hoping that this is what your life will be like. I’ve never been on tour before and everyone's so lovely, it's really just the best experience.
Q. How did you get the opportunity to open for Reid on the tour?
D.B: We did a talkback with Johnny and the creative team of Maggie at Theatre Aquarius back in November last year, and they asked me to come in and sing a few songs from the show, along with a couple of other actors. Johnny was there and as we were catching up after the event backstage, he just threw it out there that he was doing an Ontario tour and if I could let him know what dates I’d be available; that he’d love to have me sing a few songs from the show for the audience. It started as ‘Just come to a few shows when you're available while I'm in Ontario.’
And then there was a bit of a shutdown due to COVID and Johnny had to postpone his Ontario dates. I didn't really hear anything for a while and then, I got a call inviting me to come on the entire national tour and sing from the musical. And now here I am, opening for Johnny Reid!
Q. What’s the experience like?
D.B: It’s as if I’m doing a 15-minute musical. I sing three theatre songs of Maggie which I know very well.
“It's important to remember that whether you're hired or not, you're still an artist. It does not matter if you work part-time, get fully paid, or if people don’t validate you: You are still an artist.”
It’s very interesting to have this mesh of theatre and commercial music. Johnny is a pop star, a country singer, and has never been in the music theatre industry. For him to delve into the music theatre world with all these amazing collaborators like (producer) Michael Rubinoff and (music supervisor) Bob Foster, who are also part of Come From Away, (book writer) Matt Murray and (director) Mary Francis Moore – it’s like this big clash of these two different industries. It's a totally different ball game, nothing like this has ever been done before.
Every theatre artist would love to go on tour, but we only dream of going on tour with a show. But to go on tour doing theatre in a pop setting is exhilarating.
Q. Next year, you will play the lead in Maggie, which had its first staging at the Canadian Musical Theatre Project (CMTP) at Sheridan while you were a student. Tell us a little about that.
D.B: This whole thing actually started with the CMTP. In my fourth year at Sheridan, instead of doing a staged reading, we did a full-fledged production of Maggie. The show is based on the life of Johnny's grandmother and it’s as if I know her. I’ve been associated with the show right from the start, I know its creator, and I'm hearing all these stories of her life.
“It's just a dream come true. You grow up hoping that this is what your life will be like.”
What’s really cool is that Johnny is Scottish and I actually grew up in Scotland. When I started working with the group, they all wondered how I got to have such a good Scottish accent!
Q. Any advice for Sheridan’s music theatre students?
D.B: I think it's important to remember that whether you're hired or not, you're still an artist. It does not matter if you work part-time, get fully paid, or if people don’t validate you: You are still an artist.
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