Kelly comes to the show with many years of experience. He first picked up the guitar at 12 and played in a pop band in high school. He got a degree in jazz guitar in college, though jazz wasn't particularly his interest.
"I don't play jazz at all - it was the program," he said. His career included playing with major recording artists in Quebec and working as a composer and producer.
It was hard work, he added, because he always had to string together jobs to make a living.
"I toured with artists who were well-known in our region, but the number of shows a year was a maximum of 80 to 100 and a musician like me would have to find other skills," he said.
Kelly's first Cirque assignment found him front and center on stage, too.
"I had three appearances on stage. I was a warrior. I wasn't the focus, but people were looking at me," he said. "It was a lot different from what I do now."
Depending on when a performer joins a show, he or she has varying input into the production.
"If I'm hired to do a new creation, we prepare a lot. And I could be with the band where maybe half the songs don't have the guitar part written yet," he said.
"But when I came to Dralion, it was 12 or 13 years old. The guitar part is sort of a legacy. I was respectful of the color of the show. I couldn't startle the performers with something new."
Kelly said he spent time listening to the show's soundtrack so that he could catch every nuance of his music and sound exactly like the guitarist
before him - to the point he realized he needed some new equipment.
"It took me maybe a week and a half and I was integrated into the show," he said, recalling his first night with Dralion.
"I was hoping no one noticed they changed guitarists," he said. When he got on the bus after the show, "Everybody applauded me."
And he knew he'd gotten it right.