Grant Simpson has been immersed in music and theatre from the very beginning of his career. Learning the trade as a musical director of theatrical productions, live shows on cruise ships and summer stock productions he found a home as the musical director of the Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue in 1980. Composing, creating, producing and directing was his full time job from that point forward.
The Frantic Follies was a professional production consisting of 25 cast and staff. It was a full-scale variety show in the style of the 1898 Gold Rush Entertainment of the past. Along with the creative training he was getting, he also began to learn the ropes of every aspect of professional theatre management and in 1994 he became 50% owner of the company. (The Frantic Follies closed after 48 years, in 2016)
In 2015 “Dogtown: The Musical” was released at the Magnetic North Theatre Festival with script by Roy Ness, music composed by Grant Simpson, lyrics by Roy Ness and Grant Simpson. The play is scheduled to run as a touring show in 2021 beginning with a residency at the Yukon Art Centre, followed by a tour of the territory.
From 2016 to 2018, Grant and his co-producer Shauna Jones produced a series of full-scale variety shows including: “Furlesque: A Northern Burlesque”, “The Klondike Follies Revue”, “From Dawson to Berlin” (a historical revue), “The Whitehorse Street Piano Festival” (the marriage of scenic and musical art), “Wild West Furlesque”, and “Bicycles and Bloomers” (a historical perspective).
In 2018 Grant and Shauna moved to Winnipeg and have continued their presentations over the past two years. Their Winnipeg productions include “The Prairie Vaudeville Revue”, a full scale vaudeville show presented at the Winnipeg Crankie Festival in 2019,
“Vaudeville on the Go”, “Greasepaint on the Prairies” and others. Planning is underway for a hybrid live/online version of The Winnipeg Crankie Festival this coming season which will include vaudeville and silent movie performances.
Grant is also the producer and sound designer of “The Prairie Vaudeville Radio Show” on CJNU FM every Friday at noon, “The Home Routes Podcast”, a weekly show celebrating the artists, hosts and audiences of the Home Routes community, and “A Blast from the Past” a historical podcast written and hosted by Freda Glow.
As a record producer, Grant recently produced the Claire Ness award winning kids album “Broccoli Farm” which won the Western Canadian Music Awards “Children’s Album of Year 2021” and the Canadian Folk Music Awards as “Best Children’s Album of the Year, 2020”
As a professional pianist Grant has performed in Jazz, Folk and Music Festivals throughout Canada, the U.S., the Caribbean, Mexico, China and Korea. In his pursuit to learn the authentic styles of the past, he has studied and honed his skills through many of the giants of the craft. From the very beginning, Grant began to learn how to play piano for silent movies and it remains one of his favourite performance avenues.
Soundscape Composer, for theatre, comedy, radio and podcasts.
Songwriter and Lyricist. Silent Movie Pianist.