Parish extends Hand of Friendship to Nova Scotia community

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
(From left to right) Paul and Darlene Taranto, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez and Ranji Bercegeay are shown with a Parish of Ascension key that will be presented to representatives from the Nova Scotia community of Tusket later this month. Bercegeay will perform in “Evangeline, the Musical,” with members from Nova Scotia later this month. Paul wrote the music and lyrics for “Evangeline” while Darlene is the producer. The Tarantos hope to open dialogue between the Nova Scotia community and Ascension Parish because of the historical ties shared by both communities.

DONALDSONVILLE – Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez and officials with the local music production “Evangeline, the Musical” met last week to plan a presentation ceremony offering kindred ties with the small fishing village of Tusket in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia.

Paul and Darlene Taranto, composer and producer respectively of “Evangeline,” and local actor/singer Ranji Bercegeay told President Martinez the production will be held in Tusket for three weeks in July. Bercegeay will be playing the role of Gabriel and will be joined by local actors from Nova Scotia.

“Tusket is very near to Grand-Pre’ which is where the story is set,” Taranto said.

“That is also historically where all of the Cajuns down here came from, from the Grand-Pre’ area,” Darlene added.

The Tarantos will present a parish key and a parish proclamation with hopes of starting dialogue between Ascension Parish and the hosting seaside community in western Nova Scotia.

Taranto wrote the music and lyrics for “Evangeline” with the first full-scale production of the show being held in 1999 at LSU. Subsequent productions followed in Lafayette, and at the Strand Theater in Shreveport. The Shreveport production was taped by Louisiana Public Broadcasting in 2000 and aired on PBS stations throughout the United States and Canada.

The production also graced the stages of the Baton Rouge Little Theatre in 2004 and the Manship Theatre in 2011.