“I can see that you’ve got quite a mind for your age!
Why, one Think and you dragged me right onto the stage!
Now, I’m here, there is no telling what may ensue
With a Cat such as me, and a Thinker like you!”
Dr. Seuss’ stories like “Oh the Think You can Think” are coming to life on stage weekly as children 7-13 years olds prepare to perform “Seussical Jr.” in Trail this spring.
Under direction of theatre experts Juliana Marko, Nadine Tremblay and Carolyn Ferraro, 21 kids meet weekly at Steps Dance for three hours of imagination and as a result a whole lot of fun.
“If you don’t start acting when you’re young, performing on stage gets really hard because acting is all about playing and using your imagination and kids are just natural at that,” said Marko. “When you get to the adult stage and you haven’t been trained on stage, it gets really difficult to sort of get out of that box in your head.”
Marko has wanted to put on a full-stage musical since she moved back to the area in 2010.
The 31-year-old started off with Steps Dance Company before pursuing theatre in Calgary, where she later performed before moving to Chicago for acting and dance opportunities.
With backing from Steps owner Rhonda Michallik, she started off small in Trail with a few kids and upped her game as the years past but recent demand and ambition drove her to reach out for support.
Enter Tremblay, at times known locally as Liz Stephens from “Ski Bum: The Musical” or an Andrews Sister with “Company Jump,” and her most recent venture as a new persona with musical partner and boyfriend Rupert Keiller under the band “Sonicanimation.”
“We knew there would be good participation because so many parents and kids are constantly asking for it and we are happy to provide it,” said Tremblay.
Children’s programming was one request that was brought up time and again when Tremblay and a team committed to the Charles Bailey Business Plan looked into what patrons wanted out of their local theatre.
“There is a keen interest in musical theatre and programming for musical theatre with children,” she added. “The students so far are amped and working hard; it’s nice to be around.”
The well-known performer was a welcomed addition to the team, which also includes former Steps Company dancer Ferraro.
With a diploma in makeup design for film and television and another in acting for film and television, Ferraro is back home and is eager to pour her passion into the local art scene.
Though she works with children at Steps as a tap instructor, this is her first time exploring musical theatre with kids.
Ferraro’s hope is that Trail’s “underground” art scene will emerge and with it bring life to the city.
“In Trail we have a struggling downtown core and I’m not saying it’s an easy fix,” she said.
“But it’s a matter of making sure that culture is set in place so when we throw a performance at the Charles Bailey Theatre that it sells out.”
The 10-week long intensive course is into its fifth week, with practices held Saturdays at Steps in Trail.
Participants with little to no experience and or some dance background are learning dance, acting and voice, all of which is part of the all-age show that combines Dr. Seuss’ classics like “Horton Hears a Who” and “The One Feather Tail of Gertrude McFuzz.”
“The Cat in the Hat narrates the show and the main character is Jojo, who is a boy but is played by a girl, and it’s all about the kid’s imagination,” explained Marko.
“Kids are sort of the bases of the next generation of arts and if you don’t train the kids then you’ll have no adults in the community to later create more performing arts.”
The show is set to debut March 12, with a special preview show for family members, and once again on March 13 for general public. The performance takes place at J. L. Crowe’s theatre at 6:30 p.m. both nights.