Peopled by characters introduced by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his 1847 epic poem of the same name, it tells the tale of Evangeline Bellefontaine and Gabriel Lajeunesse, born on the same mid-18th century day in the Acadian village of Grand-Pré in Nova Scotia. The two forge a bond that strengthens as they grow older, and they eventually become engaged. Their lives are disrupted when they are separated by British soldiers who invade the community and disperse the residents among the American colonies. Evangeline's search for her fiancé takes her on a long journey from the New England seacoast to the Louisiana bayous, where she settles in St. Martin and faithfully waits for the arrival of her beloved. Years later she joins local priest Father Felician to assist him in his ministrations to the still-homeless Acadians roaming along the Atlantic seabord, a fateful move that unexpectedly brings her closer to her destiny.
In 1995, inspired by a children's theatre production about the Acadian expulsion, music teacher Taranto began working on a musical adaptation of the story. Three years later, he approached actor/playwright/lyricist Wax with a collection of songs he had written and asked if he would be interested in collaborating on the project. Unable to commit himself at the time, he recommended Taranto work with mutual friend Danny Tiberghein, who taught at the same school and had a theatrical background. When Tiberghein later was killed, Wax agreed to complete the musical with Taranto as a memorial to him.
The first full-scale production of the show, directed by Paige Parsons-Wax, was mounted at Louisiana State University in June 1999. Taranto conducted the orchestra and Wax played one of the secondary roles. Two months later, there were two concert performances, one in Lafayette and the other at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport. The latter was taped by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and in October 2000 aired on PBS stations throughout the United States and Canada.
The PBS production starred Ana Maria Andricain as Evangeline, Rod Weber as Gabriel, and Andre Chapoy as Father Felician, backed by the Centenary College Choir, the Texas Street Singers, and the Children's Choir of the Episcopal School of Baton Rouge.
Evangeline was staged at the Baton Rouge Little Theatre in 2004. It was directed Paige Parsons Gagliano, while composer Paul Taranto was musical director. Andre Chapoy appeared once more as Father Felician.