Four St. Albert acting students from the 2013 Citadel Theatre Young Companies are closing the season with a curtain-raising performance at the Club, the Rice Theatre’s former acting space.
Hayley Moorhouse, Erin Orris and brother-sister duo Andrew and Lauren Boyd have spent the last year honing skills and obtaining practical experience they will need in the highly competitive acting industry.
Under the direction of John Kirkpatrick, one of the St. Albert Children’s Theatre’s brightest constellations, Moorhouse stars in George F. Walker’s Escape from Happiness, a tale of a dysfunctional family trying to come together and find happiness. It runs for three performances from May 30 to June 1.
And the two Boyds show off their triple threat chops in The Winter’s Tale Project, a Shakespearean-adapted musical directed by CityTV roving reporter Bridget Ryan. Two performances are scheduled on June 1 and 2.
Now in its fifth consecutive year, the four young companies – acting, musical theatre, playwriting and theatre production – were formed to prepare 16- to 21-year-olds for entry into post-secondary arts education.
In a broad sense, the programs open doors to creativity through exploring the art of acting and self-expression as well as learning practical skills and techniques.
Escape From Happiness, for instance, is a comedy about a dysfunctional family that demands actors deliver bang-on comic timing, but also plumb the emotional depths of these misfits.
In her role as Gail, they youngest daughter and possibly the closest to normalcy, Moorhouse (Peter Pan, Willie Wonka, High School Musical), kicks off the show with a traumatic moment.
As the lights go up, she is kneeling on the floor beside her bleeding husband. From that point on, the action really revs up into shouting matches, hair pulling, lies and deceit.
A young actor navigating these shoals without the steady hand of a strong director can discover a treacherous landscape.
Of director John Kirkpatrick, one of the St. Albert Children’s Theatre’s brightest constellations, she says, “I’ve learned so much. He’s a great director. He pushes us so much and it’s great he’s helped us so much.”
“I’ve really grown in my ability to take risks. I’ve put in the research and the effort to make it real. I’ve learned that it’s better to make a choice and possibly fail and try something new again than to be too scared to try something new.”
In the rehearsal hall for Winter’s Tale Project, director Bridget Ryan is once again helming the 2002 production she created along with Chris Wynters of Captain Tractor fame.
“Bridget has this amazing energy she brings to every rehearsal. She’s so insightful and articulate in her notes. She’s always on her feet and she’s so collaborative. You feel your voice is heard as a performer,” says Lauren Boyd.
Based on Shakespeare’s romantic tale of loyalty and deception, forgiveness and redemption, it follows the life of King Leontes. A jealous husband, he loses everything most dear after baselessly accusing his pregnant wife of infidelity.
Unlike Shakespeare’s 17th century narrative, the Ryan and Wynters partnership created an explosive rock musical. Andrew Boyd takes the reigning role of King Leontes, while Lauren Boyd is Paulina, his trusted advisor and the only one who stands up to him without fear of execution.
She praises her brother, who earned rock solid reviews in the title role of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at the 2012 Edmonton Fringe Festival.
“As Leontes, he’s done a great job of tapping in his aggression. At the party, he has a jovial attitude and then sees his wife dancing with Polixenes and snaps into a rage.”
The varied music ranges from the tender ballad To the Moon and Back Again to a rock and roll Montage to the cheerful finale Stuck with a Bear, a slapstick poke at Shakespeare.
“It’s rock and roll. There’s comedy. There’s drama. Plus as a production show, it’s very high quality.”
Escape From Happiness
Citadel Young Acting Company
May 30 to June 1
The Winter’s Tale Project
Citadel Young Musical Company
June 1 and 2
The Club (Citadel Theatre)
9828 – 101A Avenue.
Tickets: $20. Call 780-428-2130 or purchase online at www.citadeltheatre.com