D-Day by Stéphane Roy and Serge Denoncourt

When you lived through the 1939-1945 war, it was impossible to set foot on the Normandy beaches without a heavy heart.

However, there is little to remind you of the thousands of Allied soldiers mowed down by German fire on the sands of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, just a stone’s throw from the villages of Sainte-Mère-Eglise and Isigny. As surprising as it may seem, two Quebecers born a few years after the war, Stéphane Roy and Serge Denoncourt, will be the masters of an unprecedented multimedia show that will soon evoke the horrors of the 1944 landings.

If Denoncourt is known as Barabbas in the Passion in Quebec and in several European countries, Stéphane Roy is not. A humble man if there was one, he nonetheless signed the scenography for several Cirque du Soleil shows. We owe him, for example, the magic of seaweedfrom zumanity Or from Kyrios. As for Serge Denoncourt, the last shows he directed in Montreal, Miss Julie at the Green Curtain and Annethe musical staged at the Théâtre St-Denis, would more than suffice to establish his reputation as a director.

AN EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE

The show tribute to heroeson June 6, 2025 for the 81ste Anniversary of D-Day (which the French call “D-Day” in English!) is a historical fresco of unprecedented ambition. The show will cost €100 million (C$130 million) and is estimated to take ten years to become profitable.

It is performed five times a day from April to October in an amphitheater that seats 1,000 spectators.

If the two Quebec City creators are to be believed, the viewing experience will be unique. Thanks to audiovisual advances and the means of artificial intelligence, viewers can relive the terror and fire of the fighting as felt by the soldiers themselves in 1944. At the moment, the two creators are deep in thought, and they’re being quite discreet about the show itself.

According to what little they have revealed, viewers will first be confronted with very realistic archival images, then giant screens will light up one by one on hyper-realistic paintings of the landing hell. Protecting spectators from the elements, the amphitheater will move at approximately 60 cm per second, giving spectators the impression that they are always in the middle of the action.

THE ECOLOGISTS THROW THE HIGH-SCREAMS

As nothing is easy in France, the devil sits on the cows in Carentan-les-Marais, the small town where the amphitheater is to be built.

Ecologists worry about what little agricultural land will disappear in favor of this new memorial site, construction of which is due to begin in October.

As in Quebec, ecology is the first argument put forward against any new major project.

And there are the concerns of those who exploit the few memorial sites that already exist, such as the Mémorial de Caen, inaugurated on June 6, 1988. It is the most visited museum in France outside of Paris. Memorial officials fear the tremendous spectacle created by the two Quebecers will end up exhausting the majority of history-seeking tourists.

Your fears may be justified because I have no doubt that just a stone’s throw from the famous beaches of Omaha and Utah, Serge Denoncourt and Stéphane Roy will create a spectacle that will delight the whole world.

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