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Community productions are a cornerstone of the Fredericton Playhouse

by on April 26, 2016

At the Fredericton Playhouse, we pride ourselves on presenting some of the most exciting professional dance, theatre and music artists touring today; but we play an equally important role in hosting local community productions on our stage.

Often maligned, the word “amateur” is French, meaning “lover of.” In the world of live performance, it is largely used today to distinguish between those who perform solely out of a pure love for their craft, and those who perform professionally as a vocation.

Many Frederictonians fondly remember the Playhouse stage as the setting of their first major performance, as part of a school or community amateur production.  This is a proud tradition that continues today, with high schools, dance schools and TNB’s Theatre School returning annually with their productions, giving students the chance to showcase their achievements in a professional theatre environment.

Performing on stage can be a transformative experience for young people and their families. Regardless of whether a young person continues to actively perform as they grow older, the experience of appearing in a play or recital has a lasting effect, helping to build confidence and self-esteem while also creating cherished memories.

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Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Blind Faith Productions, 2015.

Many participants in these productions have watched Playhouse performances as audience members, making the experience of taking the stage themselves particularly special. I believe the Playhouse plays an important role as a venue that helps foster young talent, something that contributes to our rich, local arts scene, and to the overall health and vitality of our community.

We have no shortage of opportunities for young people to perform on the Playhouse stage each year. In February, for example, Leo Hayes High School performed their fabulous version of Legally Blonde – The Musical.  The excitement that filled the building during that week was palpable – there really is nothing quite like the nervous energy of teenagers performing in their annual school production.

Last summer, we were delighted to partner with local theatre group Blind Faith Productions on their rendition of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Led by Fredericton-based artistic director Shawn Henry, this production featured an all-local cast, including a children’s choir made up of young people who participated in a special summer camp. The show was a big success, bringing the community together to enjoy an incredible musical theatre experience.

Looking ahead, there are a number of performances by Fredericton youth that we’re thrilled to host. Starting later this month, we’ll welcome year-end recitals by local dance schools, including the Stanford School of Irish Dance, Bonnie Kilburn’s Dance Center, X-treme Dance Studio and Dance Fredericton. These are performances that students, instructors and audiences alike anticipate with great excitement, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for dancers to demonstrate everything they’ve learned over the course of the year, and for our community to show them how proud we are of them.

We’re also looking forward to TNB Theatre School’s annual production, running from May 5 to 7. This year the students have taken on the classic Mary Poppins. With more than 40 young performers from the Fredericton region, as well as a live orchestra, this musical theatre production is sure to be a memorable one for everyone onstage and in the audience.

Beyond the amateur community productions, the Fredericton Playhouse is committed to working with local emerging professional artists to help them achieve their potential. In January of this year, local theatre company Solo Chicken Productions’ training and performance platform, the coop, completed a week-long technical residency on our stage; they will return in July to continue this residency, and will premiere their new piece, A Record of Us, at the Playhouse as part of the NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival this summer.

I’m delighted that the Playhouse is able to play a role in bringing this production to life by offering rehearsal space and the technical expertise of our staff. Created and directed by local artists Lesandra Dodson and Lisa Anne Ross, A Record of Us features five emerging New Brunswick artists on stage, and is a testament to the vibrant performing arts community developing here in Fredericton.

As our local performing arts scene continues to thrive and expand, I look forward to forming new partnerships and exploring new opportunities to welcome local performers to our stage, highlighting the incredible artistry that exists right here at home.

Tim Yerxa is the Executive Director of the Fredericton Playhouse.

 

 

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