Ecole Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School students are gearing up to showcase Winnie-the-Pooh – a musical comedy in two acts.
Penned by A.A. Milne with lyrics by Milne and Kristin Sergel, music by Allan Jay Friedman with the book by Sergel as well, the production runs Feb. 5th-7th and Feb. 10th-13th in the school’s drama studio. The show is being directed and produced by LTCHS instructor Trina Penner.
Curtain is at 7 p.m. Also, on Feb. 6th-7th and Feb. 13th there are performances at 1:30 p.m. as well.
Altogether, 35 musical theatre and technical theatre students are involved in the production and that includes the members in the band.
“I had lots of folks email me when we announced we were doing this play – some wanted to make sure Eeyore was in it because he was their favourite for example,” said Penner with a chuckle. With such a beloved and classic story, audiences certainly have their ideas of how they’d like to see it unfold onstage.
Penner is assured that folks won’t be disappointed. “If you are familiar with the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, you will literally see the stories come to life onstage.
“It’s a classic tale, and I also wanted to do something really family-friendly,” said Penner, adding the production is based on series of Milne’s stories and poetry.
“There is also a really strong Canadian connection which I think people forget about sometimes,” she added. “When we talk about theatre and literature, I think it’s really important that we have those Canadian connections, too. A lot of times we look south of the border, and that’s our go-to. But we’ve got some strong roots here that we can draw from.”
According to HistoricaCanada.ca, “Few Canadian black bears have achieved the literary renown of ‘Winnipeg’, Captain Harry Colebourn’s pet black bear.
“Winnipeg emigrated to Britain along with her owner, Captain Harry Colebourn, an army veterinary surgeon in the Canadian military. In 1915, as World War I raged, Captain Colebourn was sent to the front in France. Unable to take Winnipeg along, he donated her to the London Zoo, where she quickly became a star attraction.
Colebourn had purchased Winnipeg in White River, Ontario from a trapper who had killed the cub’s mother.
Penner added the bear, once settled in London, was spotted by young Christopher Robin and his father, A.A. Milne.
The web site adds that, “Captivated by Winnipeg, who gave zoo patrons piggyback rides around the zoo and ate treats from their hands, Christopher Robin urged his father to take her home.”
Instead, Milne transformed Winnipeg into the hero of a classic childhood story, Winnie-the-Pooh.
“This unusual name is a combination of the nickname London zoo patrons gave Winnipeg, and the name of Christopher Robin’s pet swan, Pooh.”
The wonderfully imaginative stories penned by Milne describe the explorations of a bear named Winnie-the-Pooh accompanied by fussy Rabbit, gloomy donkey Eeyore, bouncy tiger Tigger, kind kangaroo Kanga and her baby Roo, wise Owl and shy Piglet. Winnie-the-Pooh was written in 1926 and The House at Pooh Corner was released in 1928.
These two volumes told the adventures of a young boy named Christopher Robin, after Milne’s own son (Christopher Robin Milne), and his animal playmates, who were inspired by the real Christopher Robin’s stuffed toys.
As for the production at LTCHS, Penner said there are about six musical numbers woven into the script. Bringing it to fruition has brought plenty of inspiration in seeing the students really make it their own – delving into the uniqueness of the story itself and the layers of history behind the Canadian connection as well.
“I had a lot of kids asking, ‘Is it okay if I try this?’ I would say try it. If it doesn’t work we will know that’s not the way we want to go, so we will have to figure out another way.”
“Winnie-the-Pooh has a little bit of everything,” said Penner. “It’s good for ages one to 100.”
Tickets are $12 and are available at the LTCHS office by calling 403-347-1171. There is rush seating.