By NICHOLAS PERSAD
ROUSES POINT — Scott Merchant always wanted to bring classical music to the North Country. And now the Rouses Point native can thank his mom and dad for helping him do just that.
Scott, an opera singer, returns to his hometown as opening act at the dedication ceremony for the Samuel de Champlain Center Stage at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 22. His parents, Sue and Steve, belong to the committee that, with the help of grant funding and many sponsors, were able to accumulate the funds to construct the outdoor facility last fall.
"It has been a dream of mine to have an amphitheater in Rouses Point for several years," Scott said by phone from Colorado. "I want to indicate to people in the North Country that there is a real reality to performing in the arts."
It is amazing to be able to bring different genres of music to the people of the North Country, he said.
The stage, located on the grounds of the Rouses Point Civic Center off Lake Street, has already proven a hit in the small village. Its second show, a performance of the musical "Aladdin, Jr.," drew more than 300 people, Steve said.
"The dedication ceremony is actually to let the village know that it is the grand opening of the stage, and we are open to anything," he said. "We are hoping that people will come who are not from Rouses Point and maybe see a concert and realize that this is a beautiful place."
Scott, a University of Denver graduate, has sung with Tuscia Festival Opera Company for four years and was also the lead tenor at Denver University's Newman Center for the Performing Arts. He has sung several lead roles, performing around the United States and internationally — he was Rodolfo in Puccini's "La Boheme" and Nemorino in Donizetti's "L'Elisir D'Amore," among other roles.
Also performing July 22 will be Penny Treggett, Laura Capito and George Shnob.
Steve said the outdoor stage is meant to be a place where people can come with their blankets and chairs and listen to some great music, see entertaining shows. He is especially excited to have Scott return to the North Country and show his talents on something he helped bring to reality.
"I am very proud," he said. "Scott never forgot his roots from Rouses Point."
There is no charge for any upcoming events during the summer. It is also open to bands who want an opportunity to perform onstage for the first time.
"I have just heard so many positive remarks about the stage," Steve said.
Learn more by calling 297-5502.