Cornerstone Youth Theatre is in the midst of staging their newest production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – another example of how the organization provides local young people with an opportunity to be involved in quality theatrical experiences.
The shows continue Nov. 4th-5th at New Life Fellowship Church, with curtain at 7 p.m. as well as a 3 p.m. matinee on Nov. 5th. The story follows the Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colours.
As the synopsis reads, “when he is sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and taken to Egypt, Joseph endures a series of adventures in which his spirit and humanity are continuously challenged.
“Eventually, his brothers find themselves grovelling at his feet – the brother they no longer recognize after so many years.
“After testing their integrity, Joseph reveals himself leading to a heartfelt reconciliation of the sons of Israel.”
The legendary show is of course packed with all kinds of engaging tunes, set to genres from country-western to calypso to bubble gum pop and rock ‘n roll. Tickets can be purchased online at www.CornerstoneYouthTheatre.org or by calling the box office at 403-986-2981.
The production is the latest in a long line of successive hits for the homegrown organization, which is an educational children’s theatre arts society for students ages six to 18 in Central Alberta.
They offer theatre arts summer camps and after-school sessions of theatre classes, acting classes, voice classes, dance classes, and other specialty classes.
Cornerstone is also unique in that it offers plenty of theatrical opportunities for younger students, said Stephanie Orr, artistic director of Cornerstone Youth Theatre.
“What we can bring to the community is an opportunity for elementary aged kids and middle school children. We have teenagers in our programs, but they also have more options than the little kids do.
“So we kind of provide a place for children to explore make-believe, pretending and acting and singing – and to get stronger in those areas,” she explained, adding that Cornerstone is also a good option for folks who live in rural areas and may have even less choice when it comes to getting their kids involved in theatre.
Orr, who has been with Cornerstone since 2011, said that mainstage shows are a wonderful opportunity for the kids to utilize the skills that they are learning. “We also couldn’t do it without the families of the kids who are involved,” she said.
This can mean family members being along for the ‘ride’ as their son or daughter hones his or her skills during the course of rehearsals leading up to a particular production.
“Red Deer has an incredible volunteer base – I would say that we’ve developed an incredible, and always changing, volunteer core as well. They’re willing to work alongside their kids, and that’s what helps make our shows. When our shows really click, that is what it’s based on.
“It’s based on the grandma who can sew and is willing to sew three skirts for us; the dad who works on the church tech team and is going to come in and set up our tech. So we are really community-driven.
“Our staff is also really knowledgeable. What our staff brings is knowledge in the theatre arts with children or how to build things quickly, how to re-purpose costumes, how to make a visual picture with the least amount of strain possible on our volunteers. We bring that knowledge to the table, and we kind of steer things, but really it is the parents who often really want to be supportive of their children – but they don’t often have opportunities to work ‘alongside’ their children.
“They have lots of opportunities to cheer from the sidelines. But there are fewer opportunities when they are in something where they are actually engaged with their kids, and their kids’ friends.
“So there are opportunities for parents to shine, too, and to bring those gifts. Adults often have tonnes of talent and creativity that they don’t get to utilize.”
Ultimately, Cornerstone Youth Theatre 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.
“I’m inspired when I see little kids pretend. And we’ve worked with a lot of kids – our enrolment might be anywhere from 80 to 120 per session – so we are seeing a broad spectrum of the kids in Red Deer. And when they pretend, even just in class, when they pretend to be an opera singer or a monkey for example, they do it with such reckless abandon,” she adds with a laugh.
“Even the shy ones, when they see another 20 kids doing it, it’s just contagious. You get these little children who just give it 100 per cent. The bar is raised and little kids just come right up to it. So that’s what I love – I love the pretending and I love that after opening night, they aren’t too worried about the fact that there are 300 people watching them.”
Things are kept ‘even’ across the board, too.
Each production is seen as truly a team effort. There is no room for ‘divas’; there is no ‘executive coffee lounge’, added Orr with a chuckle. “We are all in it together, and they all influence each other so well that way.”