Dutch Mason was known for his idiosyncratic performances — seeing him stage often left a lasting impression on those who saw him. That includes Island musician and performer John Connolly, who saw him in 2006, a few months before Mason died.
“I think there was a great duality to Dutch. He could be the sweetest, most connected guy while not really having a filter and very much marching to the beat of his own drum,” explained Connolly. “There’s a real rebel spirit that runs through that family. And what I understand from talking with the people in his life, following that muse was one of the most important things to him.”
It wasn’t until this past fall, when roles were cast for “On the Road with Dutch Mason” that Connolly started to really dig into what made Dutch Mason… “Dutch.” Connolly went to school with a person who dated Dutch’s son, Garrett, who filled him in on some of Dutch’s mannerisms. After that, it was studying old YouTube videos and listening to his music, on end.
“For me, it was really looking at the moves physically and the way he phrases things musically,” said Connolly. “[He’s] less connected to the band and more connected to the lyrics. Less concerned about it being musical and more about making sure the emotion gets through.”
Connolly and the other actors/musicians worked with musical director Lisa MacDougall to find the right sound for this musical. Mary Francis Moore, the director, has also been instrumental in making this play a very “Dutch Mason” production. Connolly said she challenged him and help him find his way to Dutch.
“Dutch led a very interesting life and a lot of people don’t know that and how much he sacrificed. And the play is peppered with quirky characters and I think they are going to recognize the people on stage. It’s an East Coast story.”
Connolly was excited to not only share this musical with his friends and family, but also with the people who knew Dutch Mason. If it strikes a chord with them, then he knows he’s done a good job.
On the Road with Dutch Mason runs until September 22 at The Mack. To book tickets, visit https://boxoffice.confederationcentre.com/online/