The Studio Theatre’s musical Just So is a little more than just so — it is fantastic, fun, colourful — and there are great performances in solos and chorus work throughout the production.
The costumes and characters are just so much fun. And a huge round of applause goes to director Jay Goddard, musical director Sharon Hoffman and choreographer Becky Strickland for not giving us one dull moment to ponder what might be coming next.
The stage is a constant sea of action, dance numbers and amazing musical numbers.
It is one of those productions where you can’t help but smile through the whole thing, and Goddard couldn’t be prouder of his cast and crew.
“This is a very talented cast that will entertain, delight and inspire,” Goddard says. “They have an incredible energy that we haven’t seen on a stage in Williams Lake for a while. Its a joy to be able to bring a play for the whole family back to Studio Theatre, our last family production being Honk in 2008.”
So if you haven’t seen Just So yet — this weekend is your last chance as the production finishes its three-week run with performances at the Studio Theatre tonight, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and for a Saturday matinee at 1 p.m.
The musical Just So was written by Anthony Drewe and George Stiles who also wrote Honk. Just So is based on the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling. The story is about how the animals developed attributes that make them special. For instance the Kangaroo (played by Kara Pare) gets its powerful hind legs, long tail, and hopping gait after being chased all day by a dingo (wild Australian dog played by Will Reierson).
Just So is also about children and the challenges they face growing up and finding their own way in the world. “The message is especially meaningful as the majority of the cast are between the ages of eight and 18 and dealing with the same challenges of finding identity and purpose as are the characters in the play,” Goddard says.
In addition to the wonderful choral work, the lead characters provide some beautiful and often hilarious solo and group song and dance numbers.
There are amazing performances by Elephant Child Samantha Fradette, who explores the world with the flightless Kolokolo Bird Chelsea Goddard, guided by the regal magician and story-teller Sylvia Swift.
Then there are brilliant and fascinating numbers by Leopard Louis Butterfield and Jaguar Jeff Jenner who can’t seem to convince the haute Giraffe Helena Morgan and confident Zebra Torie Goodall that they would like to “take them out to lunch.”
Amazingly these four, as do many others in the play change their spots, so to speak, to carry off other roles in the production.
For instance Will Reierson is a wonderful Australian dingo in pursuit of a boundingly brilliant kangaroo Kara Pare who doubles in other scenes as a cooking stove and a wildebeest.
Speaking of cooking stove — what a wonderful performance by Amanda Dowling as the Parsee dancing with Rhino Neil Knuff on what is supposed to be a deserted island.
The live music provided by Rudy Wassenaur on keyboards, Roberta Patterson on flute, and Callie Cook on percussion is just enough to salute these voices without overpowering them.
A musical production of this magnitude can’t happen without a great deal of back stage support — and hats off to all of them.
In many cases the production became a family project.
The dynamic mother/daughter duo of Nancy Gale, Child Development Centre manager, and Shirley-Pat Gale, community literacy co-ordinator teamed up to produce the play.
“Play is fundamental to the emotional intelligence development of children — and theatre is a great way for children to play and grow,” Shirly-Pat says.
“This production, Just So, also highlights the message that anyone — no matter their spots — can make a difference if they just try.”
Nancy adds: “We thought it was important to provide opportunities for youth and we had so much fun with Honk.”
For director Jay Goddard the play was a total family commitment. Daughter Chelsea took a lead role as the Kolokolo Bird, son Damian was the puppeteer, and daughter Tianna was in the chorus and played Wallaby 1.
Jay’s wife Stephanie Van Der Laan worked behind the scenes on costumes and getting kids on and off the stage. And even their exchange student Dennis Geyer joined the fun as the sound tech.
There are many family connections in this production, and too many cast and crew members to mention them all here, but suffice it to say that if you miss this production you will miss something very special.
Tickets are available at About Face Photography.