Local residents will get the chance to see an outstanding former Red Deer-based ‘triple threat’ perform Thursday at the Red Deer Public Library downtown.
Originally from South Africa and a Red Deer native, Wilmari Myburgh, 22, is performing a one-woman cabaret at noon as part of the First Thursdays in the Snell Auditorium concert series.
“I think the thing I love most about it is that it’s an unconventional way of making a difference for people,” she explains. “I’m a lot more drawn to comedic things now. I love to laugh, and I love to make people laugh. Life can throw such crazy things at you that if you can’t find a reason to laugh, what’s the point?”
Music, acting and dancing have a power to lift spirits and point to differing perspectives as well, she said. “It can bring joy to people.”
She will be performing an original cabaret entitled Love Stories: The Anatomy of Falling in Love, comprised of new and old musical theatre show tunes and personal anecdotes. She’ll be accompanied by Deb Protsack.
“I kind of made it to have a Valentine’s theme, but it’s not really your conventional Valentines concert. It’s more about the struggles and the funny things that happen as you are trying to find love.”
Myburgh got off to an early start with her love for music and for performing in general. She started singing at a very young age and competed in her first music festival at age three.
From then on, she was hooked and started taking voice, piano, and dance lessons.
Growing up, Myburgh remained heavily involved in the arts through participation in dance competitions, music festivals and community theatre. Locally, she appeared in Ignition Theatre’s productions of tick, tick….Boom! and The Vagina Monologues among others. She was only 17 when she landed the role in tick, tick…Boom! thanks to Matt Grue, who was the artistic director of the professional company.
In 2008, she had the opportunity of being cast in the TV series Triple Sensation II in Canada. She was chosen from hundreds of hopefuls across Canada to be a finalist on the show, ultimately landing in the top 12. “It was the craziest, most amazing two weeks of my life – the things I learned and the people I got to work with. It was definitely an enriching experience.”
While filming, she had the honour of working with theatre legends from Marvin Hamlisch to Patsy Rodenburg. Following filming, she moved to New York to round out her world travels and to pursue a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance (Music Theatre) at NYU Steinhardt.
“I was thinking if I had to study somewhere else and then move to New York, it would be a hundred times scarier,” she explains. “This way, I got to ease into it a little bit. It’s totally a monster on its own to tackle.
“I was also even more inspired to go after doing Triple Sensation because that program was all about post-secondary education – lots of people on that show with me had finished their bachelor degrees already, or had started.
“I realized how much I still had to learn, and how much I wanted to learn in terms of theatre education. It really inspired me to ‘run’ to New York.”
Since graduating from NYU, Myburgh has been working on theatre projects all over the U.S., her most recent credit being at the Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin where she played the role of Mrs. Fezziwig in Scrooge the Musical.
Of course, living in the competitive world of New York theatre has its challenges – producers don’t always find you right for a part. It’s an intrinsic part of the business, but it never gets easy.
“I think the important thing is to keep trying. As long as you believe in yourself, other people will eventually see that too.”
She is thrilled to have been given the chance to perform in Red Deer while she is here visiting her family, and she is excited to give back to the community that gave her her start.
“I think the things that helps me to be grounded are definitely my faith and my family. That’s why it’s nice to come home and spend some time recharging my batteries and getting re-inspired for the next long haul.”