You could say he was born to be a country singer.
At least it must feel that way for Gaelan Beatty, who is currently playing the role of Garth Brooks in Stage West’s production of Legends of Country, running until Sept. 1.
Beatty, who was played the country legend once before in Stage West’s Pure ’90s in 2017, acts as a headliner for the production and by the time he performs at the end of the show, he has the audience clapping and singing along. This is his fourth Stage West production.
“It’s pretty fantastic. It’s a very cushy job for me being able to close out the show,” he says, adding he considers Stage West his “home theatre” for the time being.
“I love it here.”
And does he ever, putting his own spin on barnburners such as Standing Outside the Fire, Friends in Low Places and his personal favourite, Calling Baton Rouge.
“The audience interaction is so rewarding; they really get into it,” Beatty adds.
By the time Beatty takes to stage as Brooks, the audience has already been treated to a stroll down country memory lane starting with Buck Owns, played by Josh Wiles; Kenny Rogers played by Kent Sheridan; Dolly Parton, played by April Cook; Dwight Yoakam, played by Edward Murphy; and Trisha Yearwood, played by Merritt Crews. It’s all building up to Garth.
“It’s not exactly built like that, but it kind of is because a lot of the older country is a little more, you know, sit in a chair and sing. But Garth Brooks shows are all about high-energy running around. As a performer, it lends itself to being a closer pretty well.”
It’s clear that the audience is having a great time – and so is Beatty, even though it was a challenge to research for the role.
“Because he (Brooks) is a very shrewd businessman, he’s done a lot to scour the internet and take videos of himself down,” Beatty explains, adding he resorted to a couple of iPhone concert videos for research.
And of course, the actor is a lot younger and slimmer than Brooks, so he puts his own spin into the role, taking that energy Brooks is known for and ramping it up.
“I get to run around with a lot of energy,” he says, “and having my backup dancers out there with me is incredible because they are bringing so much energy, too. And they do it for the entire show.”
Beatty, who was born in Vanderhoof, B.C, spent his childhood growing up on country and western music because it “was the only radio station” the town of 1,200 people had. That background has prepared him for roles like this.
“I woke up to country music every single morning and I got to know quite a bit of the older music when I was growing up.”
(Photo courtesy John Watson Photography.)
Legends of Country runs until Sept. 1 at Stage West Theatre. For tickets and times go to https://stagewestcalgary.com.
Krista Sylvester is a freelance writer (and creator of that’s all she wrote) with a journalism background. She has worked for Metro, CityTV and the now defunct FFWD, and specializes in arts and culture, sports, film and entertainment, social issues and more. When she’s not writing, she can often be found at the poker table or ice rink playing hockey.