The amazing talents of drama, music and art students at H. J. Cody High School were in the spotlight for about 1,000 people who attended the six performances of the musical Once Upon A Mattress in the Stevenson Performing Arts Centre last week.
Artistic director Jacqui Renwick said, in program notes, that she first saw the production about seven years ago but had to wait for the right cast.
“This cast of “characters” is as fun to work with as they are on the stage. I am grateful to teach such dedicated, kind and fun loving students.
“I am almost always drawn to shows that have a message beyond the words and music. I feel like this script is about finding your voice and standing up for what you believe in, knowing and embracing who you are and accepting others for who they are. All good lessons.”
Music director Kerry Heisler talked about travelling “an incredible journey … in such a short time”.
“It continues to amaze me the unbelievable talent that is in our school community,” she continued, in program notes. “When I reflect on the future of our society, these fine individuals come to mind. The cast has dedicated themselves to true character singing. They have each created their own “voice”, working through a range of lyrics, phrasing and harmony to succeed. Several of the cast are experiencing their first musical, some growing from non-singer to singer, some having to take amazing risks with their vocal sound. I am truly proud of all of the vocal accomplishments.”
The band included both student and community members who came together in the last couple of weeks. “The talent that is already present makes this possible. Playing in a pit band takes flexibility, patience, independence and skill. It is a privilege to work with such fine musicians,” Heisler wrote.
Choreographer Lacey Robley wrote she was “very fortunate to have worked with such talented actors, actresses, stage managers, directors and musicians.
“When I started working with the students in this production, the first thing I heard from many of them was “sorry, but I can’t dance” or “don’t mind my dancing”. After much hard work and rehearsal I heard a few positive comments and even a “this is fun!”, then I knew I had done my job. These students have not only learned the choreography but how to dance while singing, which is even more challenging.”
Auditioning for the production started in September and has entailed almost daily practices which includes some Saturdays. Actors and actresses qualify for credits towards their high school diplomas for their participation.
The cast included Charlie Mason, Lauren Rowe, Michael Bentley, Nolan Seifert, Breanna Allen, Shaye Lyons, Layne Zazalak, Bennett Hreherchuk, Connor Barker, Taylor Bohn, Janae McCluskey, Brady Elsbett, Dylan McDougall, Drake Carriss, Madison Fudger, Jenn Spode, Taylor Wright, Anelle Myburgh, Brianne Hughes, Hannah Shaxted, Amy Seifert, Cassie Rowan, Ceanna Mueller and Kaylee Johnston.
The musicians were Randi Derbyshire, Amber Quinney, Emika Inagawa, Bobbi Cerin, Alex Palm, Kassidy Mason, Rachelle Janisse, David Jones, Cheri Kay and Malcolm Bell.
The crew included Jacqui Renwick, Kerry Heisler, Lacey Robley, Connor Barker, Roshell Organ, Jade Pon, Alex Cressman, Dustin Schmitz, Kyle Lyons, Liam O’Callaghan, Annika Vedder, Brayden St. Pierre and Rylea Lunde.
Involved in set design were Kirstynn Joseph, Hailey Beauchamp, Megan Lynch, Chantel Head, and the Drama 9, 10 and 20/30 classes.
Set building was done by Chance Radford, Ed Coles, Cory Mueller, Joel Sinkwich, Gary Heisler, Randy Prediger, Nick Minard, Jim Barritt, Cam Renwick and the Drama 20/30 class.
Costumes were created by Sarah Rowe, Diana Rowan, Shari Neis, Denise Lyons, Lori Marshall, Lynn Zazalak, Brenda Spode, Leah Fuller, Shawna Seifert, Glenda Sommerville and the Drama 10 and 20/30 classes.
Hair and make-up were looked after by Randi Derbyshire, Bella Larsen, Kaitlyn Crawford, Momoe Hamada, Lene Slot and the cast and crew.
Don Palm created the poster while Timelapse Productions and Sarah Steinbach did cast photos.