The 15th Season Begins!

Saturday, September 8th, 9 a.m.

I arrived at our rehearsal space, Paulin Memorial Church, nice and early for our 9:30 start time, to get things set up before the kids arrive.  I’d already had a flurry of last-minute messages from parents that morning, and my energy and excitement levels are through the roof. I couldn’t wait to get this season rolling.

I was not alone. One parent had already posted on Facebook, “I was woken up at 6:20 to hear ‘mom – good morning it’s Riverfront Day!’ 😳😂❤️😘.” And according to her, by 7 a.m. when she arrived in the kitchen to start breakfast, her son was at the front door with his backpack on, waiting to head out!

It seems they largely managed to contain that eager beaver, and most of the rest of the kids, because when I arrived at 9, only one student was arriving with me. Ryan immediately made himself useful, as always, helping us (my daughters were with me) setting up the tables and get the library room straightened out to make room for our Juniors.

It seemed seconds later, and was certainly well before 9:30, that our main basement room was full of people – and we have a LOT of new kids this year, so it was actually pretty quiet, as a whole bunch of people stood around looking tense and uncomfortable, and nervous. We started greeting them individually, here and there, and pairing up experienced RTC kids with newcomers so they’d start to break the ice.

Now, please forgive me. It’s a distracting day when 72 students and their families descend on us all at once (1 student was out of the country for the first week. We’ll be SEVENTY-THREE by next week – crazy!). I didn’t get as many photos as I planned. In fact, I didn’t get any, and have stolen a couple of screenshots from the two videos I shot. The last photo in this blog entry was given to me by a parent later on.

We gave a brief introductory speech and orientation, introduced the crew, and divided the kids up between Juniors and Seniors, the Juniors heading off with Jeffrey, our Musical Director, and, this year, the director of the Juniors as well for their Christmas play, and his two student volunteers, Perla and Caitlyn. It wasn’t long before we heard the giggles coming from that room, and then the songs starting, as they quickly began to get to know one another and even to start singing together. It doesn’t take a die-hard music teacher very long to break the ice with little ones. Jeff’s a giant teddy bear, and well-loved by all our students. The Juniors are going to have a real treat working with him for their first three months!

Meanwhile, in the Senior room, we were very quickly getting down to business.  We spent the first hour breaking them into groups to try to get them to know one another a little and introduce their peers in a sort of speed-contest, which got a lot of laughs as everyone tried to remember six things about everyone in their groups.

Then we got started introducing Mary Poppins, and having a quick look-see at what it’s all about and what some of our plans are for that. We didn’t get through the whole story, but we got nearly half-way. We did not plan to start in with any of the music on our first day in. That plan…changed. As things do, at RTC!

After a lunch break, where some more unwinding happened, we pulled everyone back together again, and by this time, everyone had relaxed and started to enjoy themselves.

We will be auditioning the Shakespeare Festival, Where There’s a Will, first, in our line-up of productions, and that’s happening next week, so we took some time to quickly give them a run-down of the three plays and the skits and emcee plans for the show, and to read through parts of the involved scripts. But then, all of a sudden, our Musical Director and his assistant, Meredith, were in another room and we could hear some Mary Poppins things going on, and people were casting intrigued eyes that way…and we started dividing things up.  Before we knew it, we were inviting people to come in for their first exposures to some of the music, character by character, and the main room devolved into some very healthy improve games, and then, by 3:15, the ENTIRETY of the Senior cast was in the library (which is quite funny, because it’s the smaller of our two big rooms), and having their very first exposure to “Supercalifragalisticexpialidocious!”

There was no real warm up. There were no vocal scores. There was no listening to the recorded song first.  They just…jumped in.


Was it as messy and chaotic as a first, unprepared run-through could possibly be? It was. No denying it, and I’m not sharing our video here. But it was just so very RIVERFRONT. What do we want to do? SING!  When do we want to do it?  WHENEVER WE CAN!  So…they started. And by the end, we had parents drifting into the vicinity, some of whom were probably wondering, wow, how does this happen this fast? And I don’t know what to say. This is theatre, and this is what it does to kids. They get sucked in quickly, and they immerse themselves, and very, very quickly feel that RTC is a family and a home away from home. And it happened again on Saturday.

It’s going to be very fun to compare that first video to their final production.

On we shall go, to great things, and great times for the rest of the season!  Next weekend, we’ll be introducing the November production to the Seniors, and having a real read-through of the Junior script – though some of them are already keen to get to know it and have plunged right in, as young Lily demonstrated in the car on the way home from a day and a half at Stratford that started right after rehearsal on Saturday!

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And then, of course, we’ll have an afternoon with the Seniors, where we’ll be auditioning them for our Shakespeare festival, and starting to teach them some of the dance they’ll need for dance auditions!  Busy, busy!  I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the vocals are going to be sneaking in again here and there.  After all – anything can happen, if you let it!

Gearing Up for the 15th Season!

In just two short weeks, Riverfront is back in business, with a little over 70 students descending upon us for our weekly Saturday rehearsals!

We’ve had a busy summer, though! A couple of weeks ago, we had our 5th Annual Car Wash at Sobeys on Manning Road. We’re always very grateful to Sobeys for hosting us. This year was a rousing success, raising over $700 for the program, and giving our students, both new and returning, an opportunity to get together for a bit of an ice-breaker in a relaxed setting with a great purpose.


We were really delighted to have a strong representation from NJAD (Not Just a Dad – Windsor) come out to support us that day. The kids – and even our Executive Director – were given a chance to pose on a motorcycle owned by NJAD’s Jordan Wood.  Dave Holden delighted them all once again by bringing out his Ground Effects truck for a monster wash job. The kids love washing that big rig, and getting a peek inside as well!

Behind the scenes, things have been busy with our Riverfront volunteers working to coordinate a very complicated schedule that is designed to keep 70+ kids extremely active for nine months and through eight plays and several skits!

Our posters are designed and the draft versions up and running to get the season announced. We’ve bought an insane number of duotangs to hold scripts for all these kids, and we’re already starting to pull together our thoughts on costuming the season, and having set design meetings. The summer is mostly a time for our volunteers to rest and get their energy back up for the coming season, but it’s not entirely without flurries of emails and posts and meetings! With a November production this season,we need to hit the ground running once we start – and we’re ready and eager to do that!

Sponsors are being actively sought for the coming season, and there’s still a little time to throw your ring in the hat if you’d like to support community theatre this season. All sponsorships are entitled to tax receipts, of course.

2018-2019 Registration Requests

Good afternoon, from Riverfront Theatre Company!

We’ve been getting a whole bunch of new emails from parents hoping to register their kids for this coming season, or add them to the waiting list, so I wanted to post an online update for everyone about where we stand.

At present, we have 76 students on the roster for this coming September. That includes all the students who have announced plans to re-register who were with us last season, and as many kids as we could POSSIBLY squeeze in from the waiting list.

I still have over a dozen kids on the waiting list, between Senior and Junior applicants.

Those families wishing to register their kids from that roster of 76 have been given a deadline of SATURDAY, AUGUST 11th to get their registrations in.

For anyone paying attention, that’s the day of our annual car wash fundraiser.

Car wash poster

I’ve been very clear with our incoming families that we have too many people wanting to join to hold places for anyone who doesn’t turn in their paperwork by that date.
On August 12th, we will turn back to the waiting list if we have any gaps to fill. Otherwise, we are absolutely FULL TO THE GILLS and I can’t squeeze another student in.  The waiting list will then be for a start date of September 2019. I’m so sorry. We wish we had unlimited enrollment, but it’s just not possible.

Under Pressure: Our November Trio of One-Act Plays

Under the gun. Under a cloud. Under fire. Under the microscope. Underdog. Under-achiever. Undercover. Under no circumstances. Under lock and key. Under your breath. Under the carpet. Under the influence. Under the radar. Under the wire. Under wraps. Under water.

What are you “under?”

If you’re an adolescent – chances are, you’re UNDER PRESSURE.

In November 2018, our Senior Ensemble will be presenting a trio of one-act plays centering on the themes of social anxiety, peer pressure, and bullying.  We wanted to tackle these plays with our students to keep their theatre experience real, and relevant to them, to give them a chance to work through and express so many of the issues we know that young people struggle with. Through their rehearsal process, we hope to really examine and discuss some of the things that weigh on them, that keep them “under pressure.” We want to be part of instilling a community spirit and a sense of empathy in them in getting through some of the really tough stuff of adolescence. In the end, when we present the shows, we hope to open up a real dialogue for those attending the shows, as well.

Also being incorporated under this plan is student direction. We’ll have two university students and a high school student directing these three plays. We wanted to make sure that our younger people are getting the opportunities to learn new skills, but we also want to facilitate a close connection among the age groups going through these issues who can really understand and with whom the ideas we’ll explore will resonate most strongly.

This production will be available to school audiences on Friday, November 23, 2018, by pre-booking seats through RiverfrontTheatreCompany@gmail.com. It may be possible to arrange presentation of the show AT your school. Email to enquire.

Public performances will be held on Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24th at 7 p.m., and on Sunday, November 25th at 2 p.m.

Under Pressure poster.png

Box:
By Lindsay Price

Sometimes we choose the way the world sees us. Black box – indestructible. Jewelry box – plain on the outside, shiny on the inside. Sometimes our box is defined by others – our parents, our friends, our enemies. A box built by others can feel small, confined, impossible.

How do we handle the boxes imposed upon us because of our gender? Our race? From peer pressure? From parent pressure? Do we have to live with our box for the rest of our lives? Can we change?


Hoodie: 
By Lindsay Price

“This shirt has to show everything there is to know about me, my absolute coolness, and demonstrate my abilities to reach the highest rung on the in-crowd ladder.”

Middle schoolers face a tornado of questions every day. What do I wear? What if I wear the wrong thing? What is she wearing? What do I look like? Stop looking at me!

Hoodie examines image and appearance in the vignette style and poses what may be the most difficult question of all – Do I stay in the clump or do I stand alone?

 

 

The Redemption of Gertie Greene:
By Taryn Temple

New student Gertie Greene is a bully. Gossip spreads like wildfire that she attacks kids in the bathroom, knocks down football players, and gets suspended all the time. Even teachers are afraid of her. Everyone’s talking about it so it must be true. But is she really a terrifying monster?

In The Redemption of Gertie Greene the truth comes out in the most unexpected ways. Is Gertie really what everyone calls her: a freak, strange, stupid, clumsy, and mean? Or can Mrs. Fillmore’s quirky drama students see past the scuttlebutt to discover the real person behind the rumors? As they separate fact from fiction, Gertie and her fellow drama students bring to light the transforming power of kindness, and the importance of standing up for people who can’t defend themselves.

Season 14 Brought to a Successful End!

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It’s June – and RTC doesn’t exactly operate in June, July and August. Oh, we have a few upcoming events – we have our annual Stratford field trip coming up this weekend, and we’ll have our car wash fundraiser later on this summer. Our production crews will be working hard behind the scenes, preparing for the fall. But for all intents and purposes, Season 15 is a wrap.

What a season it has been!  We started the season with 60 students enrolled in the programme, and we put them on stage three times, all of which were beautiful successes!

Christmas Around the World was a beautiful show with our 17 Juniors in December. In February, we put on Anne of Green Gables with our Senior Ensemble, to record attendance. And then, last month, we finished our season with a bang, bringing Seussical to the stage with the full cast, and oh, what a success that was!  We set a NEW record for attendance with this one, and the reviews were wonderful!  People couldn’t say enough about how much fun it was, how slick and entertaining the kids were, and how much our set and costumes just popped on that stage!

We’re very proud of our Seussical, and more grateful than we can say to everyone who helped make it not only possible, but extraordinary.

I really want to recognise how very far we’ve come. The kids probably thought Seussical was going to be good fun, but I doubt they realised how much work was going to have to go into it – the harmonies and vocal preparation alone were quite challenging. Jeff Gartshore, our Music Director, and Meredith Garswood, our Assistant Music Director, had them working on that weekly from September to May, and the results shone!  Elena Holowitz, our Director and Choreographer, was accepted to a B.C. University part way through our season, leaving at the end of March, and it is a clear testament to her organization and hard work with the students that she had the entire show blocked and choreographed before she left. Assistant Director Caroline Garswood, and our dance captains, Kaylee Cabrera (also our Cat in the Hat) and Grace Clarkson (also our Thing One) stepped in with Crystal Benn, our Stage Manager, to make sure that her vision was fully realised, and that the Juniors were nicely incorporated once they rejoined us after their winter break.

And the audiences – how they came flooding in!  We’ve never seen such strong attendance as we have this season. It’s been immensely gratifying to know that the Riverfront name is getting better and better known, and that people recognise that the kids can be trusted to give them a quality evening or afternoon of entertainment. And with every production, our waiting list grows by another several names, and more and more kids turn to their parents and say, “Hey, I want to do this, too!”  We’ll do everything we can to make that possible for as many kids as we can next year, but I have to admit, we have a challenge, with the numbers on the list!  We’re putting together a somewhat different plan to try to facilitate that next season, and we’ll be announcing that in full detail with another blog post before the end of June ( there is lots of info to be found in our “How to Join” section that will give hints away, though!).

Stay tuned for a few updates and pieces of news throughout the summer, and then watch for us coming back strong in September with fresh energy, some new faces, some new sponsorship, hopefully, and exciting new projects!

 

The Faces of Seussical

One week from today, our cast will walk into the Olde Walkerville Theatre and see what our crew had been up to!  The set will be all set up and gorgeous, and the theatre will become our home and our world for a hectic, intense week!

As with any of our shows, but especially with our musicals, there have been MONTHS of rehearsals, and costumes being made, and sets and props being constructed, and dances being learned, and songs and harmonies perfected.

It is a long labour of love and passion. And these are most of the people who are bringing it to you (a few of our crew have been camera shy about this!).

We can’t wait to have you out to join us to see this bright, zany, and wonderful world of Seuss!

 

Seussical the Musical – Opening May 25th!

Well, we know it’s getting closer when the sign goes up at the theatre!  The new digital marquee at The Olde Walkerville is great, and it’s fun to see notice of our show make its appearance! I had to pull over this morning on the way to work to get a good shot.

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Surprisingly, I still run into people who don’t know Seussical, and want to know what it’s all about. So I just thought I’d make a wee post about that for anyone who’s not sure.

If you take a bunch of your favourite Dr. Seuss books and stir them together, you find your story. Here we have the story of the Cat in the Hat encouraging young Jojo the Who, son of the Mayor and his wife, to use his imagination. In the meantime, we have Horton the Elephant, hearing the Whos in the speck of dust on the clover, and all of his “friends” mocking him. We have him abandoned to babysit an egg for lazy Mayzie LaBird, and Gertrude McFuzz pining for him, and figuring out she doesn’t need to be anyone but the wonderful bird that she is to gain his appreciation. We have appearances by many other beloved characters, including the Grinch. And it’s all stirred together with fantastic music and dance, and perfect for you and your family to enjoy.

This production will be performed by our entire company, nearly sixty kids, ages 6-18.  We’re only 10 days away from moving into the theatre, and we can’t wait to get started with our audiences. Our school performance on the morning of Friday, May 25th, sold out very quickly, but we have three performances that we can’t wait to present for general audiences. Tickets are available through the Olde Walkerville Box Office (in person and online), through Eventbrite.com, and at the theatre one hour before each show!  They’re also available from any cast member!
Riverfront likes to end our season each year with a family-friendly musical. We’re proud to bring Seussical to the stage this year, and we hope that you will be joining us!

 

New Seussical poster

Our May 2019 Musical Will Be…..

We promised an announcement would come soon!  We haven’t quite got our posters ready for the rest of the 2018-2019 season, but we CAN make an announcement about the musical we’ll be producing next spring!

It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’ve very, very exciting!  And because it’s so big, we’ll go back to a two-week run next year!  May 17-19 and 24-26, 2019, at the Olde Walkerville Theatre, plan to see:

Mary Poppins announcement