Risk versus Reward: Mike Langlois back as Broadway North musical director

by Scott Roos

pics by Scott and Deanna Roos

Langlois played his first full band show since the onset of the COVID19 Pandemic at the EARCandy Music Festival (pic by Scott Roos)

The “new normal” is a different term altogether for Prince Albert musician Mike Langlois. Back in November of 2018, just before the covid shit hit the fan, Langlois received a double lung transplant. He was severely immunocompromised due to the anti-rejection meds prescribed by his doctors post-op. Even something as simple as a common cold or a case of the flu could cause serious trouble. That was what “new normal” meant to Langlois - at least through 2018/2019 it did.


“I'm not the boy in the bubble but it's just shy of that,” explains Langlois, ”They equate it to a 95 year old man or something that's been around the block forever and kind of frail and stuff. That's what my immune system is like. Something like if your great grandpa gets the flu he might end up in the hospital. It’s the same with me but I’m much much younger.”


Naturally then, COVID, a respiratory disease by nature, is a whole other kettle of fish.


“If I were to get COVID at first they were giving me 50/50 odds of surviving it. Just plain old surviving so (my wife Karen and I) locked down so hard that we didn't see anybody except for medical appointments for a full year,” continues Langlois.


“Once the vaccines were out in the middle of 2021, I ventured out a little bit but it was light. We would get takeout for supper on occasion and did a couple of outside things but then the case numbers went crazy again that September when (everyone went) back to school. We locked down again pretty much for another year. And then Omicron was changing things. It wasn’t as deadly as the previous variants. So now we're again navigating. Is this worth the risk type thing? So basically everything I do is risk versus reward”


Living versus surviving. Risk versus reward… It all boils down to that for Langlois. For many musicians, the pandemic proved to be soul crushing during the most deadly and contagious months of the pandemic but there were opportunities here and there for some reprieve. This wasn’t exactly the case for Langlois. Whilst he was able to do small things here and there, a full band set just wasn't possible. It's been good lately seeing him back and doing what he loves.


He recently performed a set with his band Goodfellas in the parking lot of the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts as part of their EARCandy festival. He’s also back serving as the music director, guitarist and band leader for the up and coming Broadway North production of “Rock of Ages”. This will be Broadway North’s first musical production after three year’s pause. Langlois has been involved with Broadway North, in different ways, off and on since 1996.


“I’m still mostly surviving but at least we can do ‘Rock of Ages', we can do ‘EARCandy’. We can do a few of these things that are in good environments with people that I can trust,” said Langlois.


Rock of Ages will take the stage of the Rawlinson from August 18th through the 27th. It’s a jukebox musical chock full of hard rocking hits from the “decade of decadence” aka the 80’s. Taking place in the famed West Hollywood Sunset Strip, it’s a story of love, lost innocence, the changing times and about coming to the realization that you don’t always achieve your hopes and dreams the way you want to but things always seem to work out in the end. It’s definitely a message steeped in irony as the tradition of the summer musical makes its triumphant return to Prince Albert.


Langlois, in turn, feels his role in the production is worth the health risks involved but the staff at the Rawlinson as well as the Rock of Ages cast are also doing their part to ensure Langlois’ safety.


“Dannyll (Challis) at the Rawlinson has been really good at taking care of my putting me behind plexiglass keeping away from the cast. He even designed the bandstand so that I could be behind the cast so that they are always singing forward so I'm not getting pelted with spit,” Langlois said.


“The Rawlinson has really good ventilation and air circulation there. So that's one of the best places to play for me for my safety.”


“All cast members and anyone that is involved with the show has to test Monday and Thursday, take pictures (of the result) and send it to the stage manager. So I'm very happy about that because then it gives me one more level of protection. Before we do any kind of rehearsal I'm texting and saying 'Are you feeling 100%?'”


This fantastic production will feature many local talents including Teegan Jeffers as the incomparable Stacee Jaxx, Shania Cabilao as Sherrie Christian and Miranda Ironstand-Baxter as Drew Boley among others. As mentioned above, Rock of Ages will run at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts from August 18th through 27th. Tickets can be purchased online at: https://www.earc.ca/broadway-north-theatre-company

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