Cornerstone Youth Theatre is set to stage Grimm Fairytales, which opens Friday evening at the First Church of the Nazarene.
Curtain is 7 p.m.
Additional shows run through March 9.
Co-director Stephanie Orr describes the production as ideal for all ages.
“Rumpelstiltskin steals the pen of the Brothers Grimm and starts to rewrite the fairy tales,” she explains. “We have most of the princesses that the little ones will recognize – there are Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Rapunzel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Hansel and Gretel and a whole bunch of little characters that come through and have their stories messed up.
“Then Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf have to change them back. So there are lots and lots of characters.”
Orr said the first set of rehearsals began in mid-January.
“Our sessions run 10 weeks from start to finish, so within those 10 weeks we audition cast, rehearse and perform that show.” Orr said this particular story came out of a children’s theatre group in Chicago – Spotlight Youth Theatre. Cornerstone Youth Theatre produces three musicals per year.
Orr, who is co-directing the production with Evan Rein, has been working with Cornerstone since 2011.
“What so fun about working with these kids is that they are so incredibly creative, and they are real risk-takers – they are willing to try things they’ve never tried before. And when they feel the success of that, they get so enthused. They are really such a great group of kids,” she said.
The troupe is always evolving as well.
“We generally have about 30 per cent new students involved in the show for every session. So there are lots of new students, and we look for shows that will really utilize kids’ talents, whether they’ve had great training before with other organizations or whether or not they’ve ever been onstage.
“So it’s really fun just to see that full spectrum of kids working together and encouraging each other.” Orr also emphasized the importance of parental involvement to each and every show.
“We work with an incredible group of volunteers, and it’s really fun to be working alongside these families that are working as a unit. For example, a student might be Rumpelstiltskin, but dad is running the light board and mom is helping out by sewing Snow White’s costume – so the whole family tends to get involved.
“It’s a very, very supportive little community and I like to see how the families get so united in a project. There aren’t that many things where your seven-year-old daughter and your 13-year-old son and your husband can get involved,” she adds with a laugh.
The production also features several really fun, upbeat musical numbers, she said. And another quality of the script is how it encompasses so many actors. Grimm Fairytales has a whopping 72 young people involved. “I believe there are 31 speaking parts as well.”
Ultimately, it provides a wide range of parts that fit with the various levels of experience and confidence that the kids bring with them. But of course, it’s a joy to see how they grow as rehearsals unfold.
“There are kids in our group who haven’t had much stage time, and they get to take advantage of a fun opportunity to learn more. It’s fun to watch them start to shine – to see them singing a big solo that six weeks ago they may have been too embarrassed to sing in front of the rest of the cast. And now, they’ve become the character!
“It’s a highlight for me personally to see the kids grow.”
As for the enduring quality of fairytales by the Brothers Grimm in general, Orr points to the foundation of strong storytelling that is the base within each.
“You can recognize the good guys and the bad guys, and you know instinctively who to root for. What I also like about the Grimm fairytales is that the grandmas and grandpas who bring their kids, they know these stories. So there’s a real familiarity with them.” Not to mention the power and appeal of the stories also attracts a younger audience as well.
“There’s something so memorable about them. They also remind us adults of all of the good stories we knew when we were little.
“There is always something in those stories that, even in a modern age, we seem to be able to connect to.”
For performance times, details about matinee performances and additional ticket information, call 403-986-2981 or check out www.cornerstoneyouththeatre.org. Tickets are also available at the door.