Meet our Anne Shirleys!

Riverfront Theatre Company’s production of Anne of Green Gables will be opening in just one week at the Olde Walkerville Theatre! We thought this would be a good time to introduce you to our two actresses playing Anne Shirley, the title role.

Because the play, like the novel, spans a period of five years, we wanted to divide the role up between two different actresses. Alisa Whalen (11 years old, in her 2nd year with RTC) will be playing the role of younger Anne, from the time she arrives in Avonlea up until shortly after the dreadful incident of the raspberry cordial. When the time comes to start taking courses to prepare for Queen’s University, Grace Clarkson (age 14, in her 7th year with RTC) will take over for the remainder of the story.


We recently interviewed our young actresses to ask them about their experience with this production.

Q:  What excites you about playing Anne?

Alisa: This summer, I read the books, and I really liked Anne’s personality. I just thought the way she was so dramatic about everything that happened to her was so fun!

Grace: I’ve never played a lead before, and I really welcome the challenge of playing a character with this range of emotions.

 

Q:  What are you learning from this role?

Alisa: I’m learning a lot about blocking – I have a lot more movement than I had in last year’s plays. I’m learning even more about memorizing my lines. I’m also learning a lot about how to deliver those lines effectively, to keep them interesting.

Grace: It’s a challenging role, and there are a lot of lines to memorize. The vocabulary is a lot different from today’s, and the structure trips me up sometimes.

Q: Do you like playing Anne?

Alisa: Yes, because she gets to do a lot of different things. Also, she gets in trouble – a lot more trouble than I do, so I get to do strange things I never thought I’d do in my lifetime!

Grace: Yes, because it’s something that I can really work hard on, but also have fun with – there’s a lot of artistic freedom I can bring to putting Anne across to the audience.

Q:  Do you feel pressure about being Anne?

Alisa: Yes – the biggest pressure is about getting all the lines and the blocking right. I have one scene where I have almost a full page of uninterrupted talking, and it’s hard. I have to put a lot of thought into how to deliver different lines, and make it all seem natural, and give people the Anne they expect to see, with all her ups and downs in drama.

Grace: Sort of. I have a bit of pressure to be like Alisa, for continuity, but also pressure to be like Anne herself, more mature. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to live up to being like the actress who played Anne in the movie (Megan Follows), or from their own image of her from reading the books. She’s an iconic character, and people have their own visions of what Anne is supposed to be. So I have my ideas, traditional portrayals, what my directors are looking for, what people have always expected to see – and I have to merge that all together.

Q:  How are you and Anne Shirley alike, and how are you different?

Alisa: Anne is like me, because I can sometimes be a bit over-dramatic, and we both have a lot of attitude. But I think Anne can be a lot more mean than I am (to the other kids in her class, and to Gilbert), and I don’t do a lot of the impulsive things that she does.

Grace: Anne and I both talk a lot, and quickly, and get excited easily. We have different pasts, and of course are from very different times, so we express ourselves differently.  I feel like I’m glad to be playing older Anne, because she’s more emotionally restrained, which suits me more.

Q:  What’s your very favourite line in this show?

Alisa: I have so many that it’s hard to pick. The cast laughs the hardest, I think, when I apologise to Mrs. Lynde, but I think my favourite is the part where Diana’s getting drunk while I tell her about my daydream about her getting smallpox and me taking care of her, because I get to be so dramatic, and it’s pretty funny, when you think about it.

Grace: I actually like just running out onto the stage calling out “Merry Christmas” in the scene where I get the dress with puffed sleeves. I love Christmas, and it’s one of the brightest, happiest moments that older Anne has on the stage.

These two young women will bring their cast together February 23-25th at the Olde Walkerville. Tickets are available online, or through the box office one hour before each show. Don’t miss our fresh adaptation of Canada’s most-beloved classic.

Anne FINAL poster

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January 2018 Updates

It’s hard to believe that we’re already into January – but with the Junior show behind us, I’m forced to believe us!

Our Juniors did a beautiful job in December with their production of Christmas Around the World. The show was well-attended, and the audience was delighted with our young performers. Many commented that although the voices were a bit too quiet the first night, the kids made a leap in their projection for the second show, really responding to the feedback. That’s something that they can only really grasp the importance of through gaining that experience, and we were pleased to see the shift as they gained confidence and read their audience reactions better.


Just before going on with our Christmas Around the World, we were delighted to get our season tshirts in. Many thanks to Tribal Printing for assisting us with the production of our tshirts. We held another blind contest with student art for the shirts this year, asking the kids to incorporate elements of both our shows. Meredith Garswood was this year’s winner, and we went with a red and white shirt this year to highlight the Seuss-ness of it all!

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At that point, tshirts happily enjoyed, a potluck lunch at our last rehearsal, and a wonderful production down, everyone at RTC settled back for a much-needed break. At that point, I thought I was essentially done, but I had a few key emails that are worth noting.

First of all, ridiculously early, we have sold out BOTH school shows for this year’s performances. Well, okay, we can probably squeeze one more class in for Anne of Green Gables, but no more. And Seussical’s school show is packed to the gills and we can’t take anyone else. We’re in negotiations to see if we’ll schedule another school performance for Seussical, but at this point it seems unlikely. There are plenty of seats available for public performances of both shows, however, and tickets are available from cast members or online HERE for Anne of Green Gables, and HERE, for Seussical.

Second of all, we received word of renewed sponsorship from our friends at Uniform Local 200, for which we are most grateful, and a hint about a NEW sponsorship from Convergint Technologies, as well!

At this point, we’re all happily engaged in working hard for the shows, which seem closer than ever. Anne of Green Gables opens in just another month and a half.

Also coming up soon, we have our 3rd annual Pancake Fundraiser at Applebee’s (2250 Division Road) coming up on Saturday, January 27th between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. All tickets must be purchased in advance from a cast or crew member; they are $14 each.  Funds raised will go toward supporting our operational needs for our current season.

Pancake Fundraiser

Lastly – plans and research are underway for next season’s productions. We hope to be able to announce next season’s production schedule at the opening of Anne of Green Gables. Stay tuned!

Juniors, Tumbling Monkeys and Things…

Somehow, it’s already November, and the season is whirling by!

Yesterday, we were delighted and grateful to have special guest artist Katie Lalonde come out to work on some gymnastic instruction with our Seussical characters (Thing One and Thing Two, and the Wickersham Brothers), with some really wonderful acrobatic moves. Katie donated her day to us, and we really appreciate that.


We know that these extra elements are going to add wonderful touches to our production of Seussical!
In other news, our Juniors will be taking the stage in just over a month at Paulin Memorial Church with their production of Christmas Around the World. This family-friendly Christmas musical will take place December 16th and 17th, with admission by donation. All funds will support RTC’s current season.  The performers are all between the ages of 6-10 years, and they’ve been working hard to learn some traditional carols and hymns (in several different languages!) and stories to go along with them.

Christmas Around the World Poster

Meanwhile, rehearsals are moving along at light-speed for Anne of Green Gables. The Senior show, which will be performed at The Olde Walkerville Theatre at the end of February, is well-underway. Blocking for the entire play is nearly completed now, with set design and construction, as well as costuming, ahead of schedule. We’re really pleased with how it’s shaping up, and trust that the community will be happy to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of the Canadian classic’s publication with this Riverfront original adaptation.

AGG poster draft

We are spending six hours together every Saturday, and countless hours outside of rehearsal, preparing to make this season something really special for our actors, our families, and our audiences. We’re proud of what we’re working on in our community, and we really look forward to showing it off!  Here’s hoping to see you for the first time in our audience, December 16th and 17th, for Christmas Around the World. 

 

 

We Have a Donation Button!

I’m so excited! Look over there on the sidebar! Look what we finally figured out how to do! We have a DONATION BUTTON!

Coding is not easy for me – this website is tough! But I did it! I can take donations here on Paypal! YAY!

SO, if anyone wants to donate to us for the Bowlathon, sponsor us, help us to buy some paint, some supplies, some costumes – we’ve made one more step in making it easier for you!

Next step? Online ticket sales!

Look, I’ll even tuck it here – it’s it beautiful?

Announcing our casts for Anne of Green Gables and Seussical!

All auditions having been completed, with callbacks and casting meetings all under our belt, RTC is proud to announce our casts for two of our three upcoming shows this season!

Anne of Green Gables (POSTER COMING SOON) – February 23-25, 2018 :

Young Anne – Alisa Whalen
Older Anne – Grace Clarkson
Marilla – Brooke Samms
Matthew – Julian David
Mrs. Rachel Lynde – Brinda Joseph Benher
Thomas Lynde – Matthew Hogan
Young Diana – Alanah O’Reilley
Older Diana – Sixuan Chen
Gilbert Blythe – Elijah David
Mrs. Barry – Audrey LePage
Mr. Phillips – Matthew Hogan
Prissy Andrews – Melanie Tennant
Minnie May Barry – Sydney Bondy
Mrs. Spencer – Hailey Chase
Josie Pye – Ayslin Downhill
Gertie Pye – Livia Downhill
Ruby Gillis – Bella Lavoie
Moody MacPherson – Isaiah Pinkowski
Charlie Sloane – Lex Young
Jane Andrews – Emma Longeuay
Miss Stacy – Kaylee Cabrera
Aunt Josephine Barry – Anne Garant
Mrs. Bluett – Qianyi Liu
Mrs. Allan – Serena David
Reverend Allan – Ruairi Porcellini
Sam Boulter – Ryan Nesbit
Station Master – Nathan Perry
Doctor – Adrianna Rota
Mr. Barry – Nathan Perry
Peddler – Ryan MacLean
Tilly Boulter – Natalia Dube
Minnie Andrews – Marissa Dodich
Sarah Gillis – Lilly Renaud
Julia Bell – Sarah Rogan
Ella May MacPherson – Abby Soulliere
Sophia Sloane – Mackenzie Ewen
Katie Boulter – Priya Dube
Lily Jones – Kendra Simone
Mrs. Hammond – Katie Hales
Mrs. Thomas – Mackenzie Ewen
Mary Jo – Faith Lamas
Little Anne – Rachel Tennant

Seussical evening Final.jpg


Cat in the Hat – Kaylee Cabrera
Horton – Elijah David
Gertrude – Abby Soulliere
Mayzie – Jenna LePage
JoJo – Marissa Dodich
The Sour Kangaroo – Allyson Johnston

The Bird Girls – Brinda Joseph Benher, Serena David, Meredith Garswood, Emma Longeuay


The Wickersham Brothers – Julian David, Audrey LePage, Ryan Nesbit, Lex Young


Yertle the Turtle – Ryan MacLean
Vlad Vladikoff – Katie Hales
Mr. Mayor – Nathan Perry
Mrs. Mayor – Adrianna Rota
Thing One – Grace Clarkson
Thing Two – Sarah Rogan
General Genghis Khan Schmitz – Matthew Hogan
The Grinch – Isaiah Pinkowski
Circus McGurkis – Sophie Atcheson
The Cat’s Fish – Elijah Lafontaine
Cindy Lou Who – Livia Downhill

Cadets:
Hailey Chase, Nick Lane, Qianyi Liu

Circus Performers:
Syndey Bondy, Ayslin Downhill, Brooke Samms, Kendra Simone, Alisa Whalen

Whos:
Sydney Bondy, Hailey Chase, Ayslin Downhill, Natalia Dube, Nick Lane, Bella Lavoie, Qianyi Liu, Alanah O’Reilley, Lilly Renaud, Brooke Samms, Alisa Whalen.

Jungle Animals:
Sixuan Chen, Priya Dube, Mackenzie Ewen, Anne Garant, Faith Lamas, Ruairi Porcellini, Kendra Simone, Melanie Tennant.

Junior Seussical roles to be announced in the new year.

Our New Season Starts September 9th!

It all starts tomorrow.

I have a pile of things to bring to our rehearsal space at Paulin Memorial Church by the front door. All the binders and paperwork is organised, and ready to hand out to the students and volunteers.

There are two huge bins of paper in the back of my van provided to us by our wonderful sponsors, Southland Insurance. Southland has printed up our rehearsal materials, which is just an enormous help to us.

Tomorrow, we’ll have about 45 kids descending upon us to start rehearsing Anne of Green Gables and Seussical (we usually divide our rehearsal time to get an early start on vocals and dance for our musicals).  Next Saturday, the Juniors join us to begin rehearsing for Christmas Around the World, and we’ll have about 60 kids every weekend from there on out. Our group is another big one this year – not many kids haven’t re-registered, but we’ve done our best to work our way through our waiting list and get as many as possible here with us this season.

We’re excited!  We can’t wait to get things underway.   Today, happily, one of our posters was finalised. A bit out of order – Anne of Green Gables isn’t ready yet – but we’re very glad to have it, and think it’s beautiful. Big thanks to Colleen Coleman of Creation Design, Inc. for doing such a beautiful job with it, as always.

Regular poster, small resolution

One of the things we’re really looking forward to is the selection of our tshirt design. We have decided to continue our penguin theme at RTC again this year (if you’re curious about the RTC penguin obsession, read this. We asked the kids to pull together penguins, Anne of Green Gables, and Seussical – and we have seven designs that will be up for a vote tomorrow. One of our students will be featured in this season’s company tshirts – stay tuned for a new post about that coming up soon!

I’d just really like to thank the entire crew that’s poised to start working with these kids. The time and effort these people invest in our kids is astonishing, and beyond generous. So to all of them – eat your Wheaties, and I hope you got at least a LITTLE rest this summer, because away we go again!

The Fourth Annual RTC Car Wash Fundraiser Raises $600!

On Saturday, July 15th, the Riverfrontiers gathered at Sobeys off Manning Road for the fourth year in a row to raise money for our coming season. We would like to extend our thanks to Sobeys for hosting us every summer – it’s not only a helpful fundraiser for us between seasons; it’s also a nice icebreaker getting to know new families that will be joining the group in September.

We were busy from the moment we set up, with cars lining up all day for us. We had a fantastic turnout of kids and parents to wash the cars and wave the signs, and we sure appreciated the warm dry weather to work in!

We ran the wash from 10 am. to 3 pm., greeting friends, family, and strangers, who all came out to support us and encourage us for our upcoming season. I lost count of the cars, but I know for sure that we only washed one dog! Thanks for coming out, Freeman!

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At the day’s end, we had raised almost exactly $600 towards our productions of Christmas Around the World, Anne of Green Gables, and Seussical.

We’ll have a cast of approximately 65 kids between the ages of six and eighteen this season. We’re still working our way through confirmed registrations and the waiting list, but it’s going to be a big group.  We have a big group to teach, to direct, to costume and to stage. Our costs run higher as our group gets bigger, so we’re always on the lookout for sponsorship. If you would like to be part of partnering with Riverfront Theatre Company, please have a look at our Sponsorship Form 15th Season – online version, and don’t hesitate to contact us!

Our Stratford Trip is Upon Us! And the Next Season is Already a Hot Topic with the Kids!

As the year comes to an end at Riverfront, we celebrate in a couple of ways.

First of all, there was our year-end picnic, which we held on Saturday. Almost all the families made it out for a barbecue, some horsing around on a splash pad, a lot of eating and a fair amount of singing (somehow, they’re already getting started with Seussical sing-alongs!).

It was extremely hot, but the splash pad helped, and it’s always good to hang out with our group.

On Friday morning, over 70 parents, crew and cast members are heading up in a convoy to Stratford, Ontario, where we’ll be taking in a couple of plays and having a talkback with members of the cast of Treasure Island. This is becoming an annual tradition at RTC; it’s our third trip, and it feels like a well-earned reward for a season of hard work. (To be absolutely clear, this is a family-funded field trip, and no sponsorship money goes toward the excursion!)

We’ll be seeing Treasure Island and Romeo and Juliet this time around, and the kids are excited. We have a fair number of students who have been studying Romeo and Juliet this year at school, so it’s nice to see it afterwards. For a few, it’ll be their first Shakespeare play, and I’m hoping very much that they enjoy it because we did not have time this year to study it at all at Riverfront, despite my best intentions.

I expect there to be a lot of chatter about the two plays we’re seeing this week, on the drive up and back, and during our picnic and our day at Stratford. No doubt about it, they’ll have a lot of thoughts and opinions and reviews. It’s so much fun bringing theatre kids to a talkback at Stratford. They make keen observations and have a lot of interesting questions. The cast members tend to really love interacting with us, and ask us nearly as many questions as we ask them!

That said, I know that there will be a lot more chatter about next season at RTC, because these kids are heavily invested in their own company, and they’re very keen to discuss how things will be shaping up.  I’ve already heard back from almost every one of them about their plans for next year, and almost without fail, unless they have to leave the country, as our two exchange students do, they’re returning. That’s great news for RTC – the programme is super-popular with its members, and they love it and don’t want to leave. It’s harder news for those on the waiting list. Our Senior Ensemble is already going to be very, very large, and we’ll be lucky if we get to grab even one or two from the Senior List. Those waiting on the Junior list will have better luck. Lots of our kids are moving up (another reason our Seniors are getting crowded). I should be able to take a fair number of Juniors from the list. But I’m afraid that it’s quite certain that anyone applying from this point on will already have to be placed on the waiting list for our 2018-2019 season. The main reason for this is volunteer-student ratios, and cast sizes. I could cram extras into every corner of the stage and try to make that work, but we really do want our students to have a good and productive experience and be able to do something that holds their interest. There’s only so big a cast can get before people don’t have a lot to do.

Princesses Aplenty: a Wonderful Success

In the chaos of the aftermath of our last production, this blog post comes a bit late. It’s hard to believe it’s all over but the cast party, frankly!  This season has been so incredibly busy, that although the work on stage is over, there are a hundred administrative details to wrap up.

Last weekend, we held our final production of the season, Princesses Aplenty. We performed four times, with a total of approximately 900 people seeing the show.  There were 50 actors in the play – our stage and dressing rooms were packed, and in fact, we spilled out into the audience with our Juniors, seating them in the front rows to join the rest on stage when their turns came up.

I can’t even tell you how many positive comments we received about the show. People loved the story, the songs, the dancing, our live band. They thought the improv scene with Sleeping Beauty and her unexpected hero was a lot of fun, they loved the strong independence displayed by our princesses. Our beautiful dragon was a big hit, our Minstrels kept them laughing, and we had so many opportunities to showcase the talent that each and every member of the cast brought to the table this year.

Princesses Aplenty was a labour of love from the moment we started cooking up the story in the winter of 2011. Expanding it for the full cast was absolutely the right call for us, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the result.

There was a PARTICULARLY noteworthy element to this production – our opening night held a special surprise which we’d been keeping secret for months.  Sabin Visan, long-time production crew member, met Katina Vido, five years ago during Riverfront’s first production of Princesses Aplenty. He asked permission to propose to Katina during this production, and we worked an excuse for him to do it on stage right into the show. It was a beautiful moment for us to be part of, and very special for not only our very dear couple, but for everyone who got to see it.

Sabin proposing

If you’d like to actually SEE the proposal (OF COURSE YOU WANT TO SEE IT) – then have a look right here.

I hope to produce Princesses Aplenty at least once more with Riverfront before I retire; it is, without fail, the show the kids request the most.  Anyone who joined us this season to see it will, I hope, agree – it’s pretty special.

 

Again, our thanks to everyone who made this season possible and successful.  We’re already hard at work getting ready for the coming season, and the number of students returning tells me that I’m not likely to get to more than a couple of students on the Seniors waiting list. I might do a bit better with the Juniors, because we have a lot of kids moving up this year, which creates openings.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy summer – we’ll let you know about our annual Car Wash and Smash fundraiser coming up in July!