Tree House Youth Theatre presents Sleeping Beauty

Local rendition features classic tale as a powerful musical

The talented troupe that makes up Tree House Youth Theatre presents Sleeping Beauty, opening Thursday evening at the Scott Block downtown.

Presented as a musical, the classic production continues through this Saturday evening with additional shows running June 7-9. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m.

Matinees also run June 2 and June 9 at 2 p.m.

Artistic director Matt Gould is excited about this particular rendition of Sleeping Beauty, which features music by Chad Henry and is based on the book by Charles Way.

Audiences will enjoy the fun of joining the hapless Prince Owain and his unwilling sidekick, half-person/half-dragon Griff as the deadly forest sprites and the Spider King attempt to keep them from their mission to save Princess Briar Rose from her enchanted sleep. Gould said that audiences can rest assured the legendary tale is essentially at the heart of the show, but there are fresh touches and additions to the story here and there.

“The prince, who saves Briar Rose, also has a few quests – there’s that traditional ‘quest’ element to it where he has to fight this and that,” he said. “There are also some new characters in this play and some new scenarios, and some really lovely stuff. You won’t come and see the expected Sleeping Beauty on certain levels, although the general theme of the story is the same. But there is a lot of other stuff happening.”

The cast numbers 13, and features actors ranging from 12 to 17 years of age.

This re-telling was first produced in London with productions mounted by the Seattle Children’s Theatre as well. Gould said the music is both lyrical and moving, powerful and primitive and this timeless story is told with humour and depth.

The Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault was originally published in 1697. In 1959 the story was made into a Walt Disney animated film.

Adding the element of music to the story has offered Gould and his cast a new set of challenges, albeit welcome ones. In this production, the songs really serve to elevate the emotional and dramatic elements of the story line, he said. In terms of the look of the play, there are some unique interpretive touches, too.

The costumes are inspired by English styles from the 1940s, for example. That elegant look will also be reflected in a comparatively simply structured but effectively designed set, he said.

The troupe also received an encouraging pat on the back and rave reviews last month when they performed the production’s opening number at the local Festival of the Performing Arts, notching the top spot in their category.

Tree House Youth Theatre was created in 1988 and was the brainchild of Richard O’Brien who was head of the Theatre Arts Program at Red Deer College.

The aim of the program was to build theatrical interest and foster skills in the young people of Central Alberta. And with the hiring of Gould in 2005, Tree House entered a new era of exploration and creation. Productions over the years have included You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,
Alice in Wonderland,
Santa and the Wicked Wazoo,
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.

Gould has always been extremely dedicated to bringing out the very best in his casts; he challenges them to put their all into each performance. Many young people have returned year after year to learn and grow through the programs and productions offered through Tree House Youth Theatre. And Red Deerians are treated to consistent, quality theatrical experiences each time the troupe hits the stage.

“I’m thrilled to see their desire for quality is up where my desire for quality is,” he said. “That’s exciting.”

Sleeping Beauty is recommended for ages six and up.

Tickets are $17.50 each for adults and $14.50 for seniors/students. For further information, visit www.ticketcentraloutlet.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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