With 24 students on stage, 30 songs, 54 sound cues, dozens of costume changes, numerous dance numbers and some special effects, Cinderella promises to be the Maranatha Players’ most magical musical to date.
Director Becky Strickland received special permission from LifeHouse Productions to add two narrative scenes to the production along with harmonies for the songs and include extra special effects that weren’t in the script.
“LifeHouse was very open in allowing me to make all the changes,” Strickland says.
In whatever changes she makes, Strickland finds ways for students to take ownership of the productions.
Such was the case with Grade 12 student Kjeld Rohls who was able to create a new set of flats that aid in the changing of scenes.
“He was able to see my vision and make it work,” Strickland says, without giving away any secrets for Cinderella’s audiences.
“There are numerous group numbers in the musical which is a big reason why I chose the play,” Strickland says.
Adding harmony to the songs helps students to build their singing skills. She noted some students pick up harmony quickly and help the others to learn the skill.
“Harmony is a skill and challenge in itself to learn,” Strickland says.” By the end of rehearsal the students have all learned what it means to sing harmony.”
Learning to work together as a team is also a big part of what the Maranatha Players are all about.
“I like the community of theatre where many people come together and in the end become a team and a family, “ says Brooklyn Laukkanen who plays Queen Alessandra. Now in Grade 11 Brooklyn has acted in six productions including two dinner theatre productions.
Spencer Blois, who plays the loveable and bumbling King Coriander, is now in Grade 10 and has acted in eight musicals since Grade 5.
“I remember that in Grade 5 I was going to do back stage work because that is what I did in Grade 4,” Spencer says. “Then an educational assistant suggested I should go on the stage and I did.” Friends in the interview say Spencer is naturally dramatic and expressive which makes him perfect for the stage.
Taking a role on stage also helps to build confidence.
“It’s scary,” says Grade 10 student Emma Walsh of her first ever role on stage as one of the villagers in Cinderella. “I don’t have any lines. I just sing and act.”
Emma has worked back stage and helped with the concession last year and was convinced to try taking a role on stage for Cinderella by her fellow classmates.
Nathan Seibert, a Grade 10 student who plays Prince Alexander says the Maranatha Players has been a great way to meet friends since moving to Williams Lake in 2012. He tried home schooling and public school but found his educational niche at Maranatha Christian School. “Theatre helps me to channel all my energy,” Nathan says.
Jennica Walker who plays Doctor Jones is in Grade 10 and has been in seven plays since Grade 4. “I do drama because it is exciting and each year I grow into more of an actress,” says Jennica, whose costume is a compilation of a pirate jacket and shirt from a previous play and her own long skirt, that seems to be the perfect fit for the role.
When she first came to Williams Lake to teach at Maranatha Christian School 17 years ago Strickland says she joined the Studio Theatre as a creative outlet and way to meet people.
From there she started an after school theatre club at Maranatha Christian School. And it wasn’t long before musical theatre had become a big part of the school curriculum with both stage production and acting classes being incorporated into the curriculum.
“I saw the value that musical theatre brought to education and the students,” Strickland says. “I love it as much as they do.”
The theatre club evolved into the Maranatha Players which continues to be an after school program, that is well supported by parents who help students to build sets, make costumes and assist with fundraising.
“It’s kind of cool that the first Maranatha Players’ musical was about a princess and now the 15th musical is about a princess,” Strickland says.
“It’s a team effort,” says Val Hanet, who has been an involved parent and volunteer with the players for many years. “Everyone is important.”
Maranatha Players in grades 8 to 12 produce a musical each December and a dinner theatre play in March or April. The grades 4 to 7 students also produce a musical of their own in May or June each year.
In addition to a rigorous after school rehearsal schedule which started with six hours a week in September and grew to about 12 hours a week by October, Strickland says students spent many hours at home memorizing their lines and practicing songs to bring Cinderella to the stage.
Show dates are Thursday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.; Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. There will be a meet and greet and photo opportunity with Cinderella, played by Danielle Schultz, and the cast after the Friday, Dec. 2 production.
Tickets are available at The Open Book: $10 for adults and teens; $8 for seniors and children under age 12.