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Bragg Creek theatre company to put on youth production this fall

After operating in a virtual setting for the last year an a half, a Bragg Creek-based theatre company is planning its return to in-person workshops and performances this fall with the upcoming youth production, Seussical Jr.

After operating in a virtual setting for the last year and a half, a Bragg Creek-based theatre company is planning its return to in-person workshops and performances this fall with the upcoming youth production, Seussical Jr.  

The production revolves around Horton and Gertrude, who band together to save the Whos, free Horton, and restore peace to the Jungle of Nool. The story includes themes of friendship, loyalty, and love, as well as underscoring the importance of fighting for one's beliefs. 

According to Melanie Baux, artistic director of Swamp Donkey Musical Theatre, the theatre course will run from Sept. 16 to Nov. 25 with the production slated for Nov. 26 to 28. While the youth course has sold out, Baux said Swamp Donkey has added a second course with another cast to include additional youth performers.

“I think as a young theatre kid, it’s really important that everyone feels like they belong and that they’re important in the show,” she said.

Swamp Donkey emerged in the summer of 2018, as a platform for young Bragg Creekers to learn the ins and outs of drama and musical theatre. Since then, the non-profit society has offered youth workshops to learn drama-related skillsets and staged various productions, including a rendition of The Sound of Music in May 2019.

Baux said the production team went back to the drawing board when COVID-19 restrictions began last year to figure out a way they could continue their planned programming in an online setting.

“A couple of summers ago, we spent quite a few sessions, quite a few hours, doing strategic planning,” Baux said. “One of our mandates we decided would be education, and really building a sense of community for Swamp Donkey.”

She added their desire to foster a sense of community in Bragg Creek inspired the team to continue with three full youth courses throughout the pandemic, along with two virtual productions; The Show Must Go Online: A Virtual Musical!, and Super Happy Awesome News: A Virtual Musical!.

“It’s not just a show, it's a friendship, mentorship, and learning opportunity, and something for [kids] to be proud of and invite grandma and grandpa to,” Baux said. “We’ve built this sense of community where people are just wanting to continue to be part of it – including me.”

The artistic director added the company tries to stay local to Bragg Creek, as that is where the society was founded, but many participants come from other communities to participate in Swamp Donkey workshops and productions.

Prior to her role as artistic director, Baux worked as a private voice teacher. She said working with youth has always been important to her and the founders of Swamp Donkey Musical Theatre Society.

“One of our mandates and one of the things that’s important to us is the education piece, so inclusivity for anyone who auditions and also helping them grow,” she said.

Baux added that if someone auditioned for a main stage production but didn’t land the role they wanted, they would have a further chance in the spotlight by taking part in the youth musical theatre course, honing their skills.

“Everyone who is participating in the course, all 25 of the youth, will be cast in a role, so there’s a chance to learn that entire role,” she said. “Some of the roles are obviously larger than others, as in any production, but everyone will be involved.”

The theatre company is also going ahead with its adult production Nunsense, a musical comedy including a semi-professional cast, from Nov. 5 to 7. Baux said the production will be a fundraiser for the society, but will also be a chance to see another show, “which will be totally different from our youth production – an adult comedy.”

To register for the youth theatre course, or for more information about scheduled shows, visit swampdonkeytheatre.ca


Carmen Cundy

About the Author: Carmen Cundy

Carmen Cundy joined the Airdrie Today team in March 2021.
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