After a successful Christmas debut last month – A Cookie Creek Christmas – the Bragg Creek-based musical theater company is launching a springtime youth drama class this spring and reintroducing its canceled 2020 production of The Wizard of Oz.
A new year has arrived and the Swamp Donkey Musical Theater Society is excited to kick off a busy 2022 season, packed with educational programming and theatrical productions.
After mounting a successful first Christmas production last month – Christmas in Cookie Creek – The Bragg Creek-based musical theater company is launching an introductory theater course for young people this spring and reintroducing its canceled 2020 production of The Wizard of Oz.
Swamp Donkey Founder Trisha Gizen said the Youth Drama course is being offered due to the popularity of the previous course and the company’s youth theater production – Seussical the musical Jr.
Just before Christmas, Gizen said that Swamp Donkey – named after the slang term for a moose – put on several productions of Christmas in Cookie Creek.
Inspired by the “cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies,” Gizen said the holiday-themed piece was about a locally run bakery in the town of Cookie Creek that was in danger of being taken over by a large corporation.
“Chris Crumble, owner of the Crumble Corporation, was coming to take over the little bakery,” she explained of the plot. “Of course, after spending some time in the town of Cookie Creek, he saw the Christmas spirit there and decided to leave it as it was.”
According to Gizen, Christmas in Cookie Creek marked the first time that the Swamp Donkey Musical Theater Society teamed up with another organization for their productions. She said musicians from the Bragg Creek Performing Arts Society provided instrumental music throughout the piece to add to the festive vibe of the show.
She said the collaboration was well received by the audience.
“People said it was the favorite show they had seen [from us] and they hope we bring it back next year, ”she said. “I predict this will become a seasonal show – otherwise Christmas in Cookie Creek, a variation on this theme.
Drama lessons for young people
Swamp Donkey’s upcoming Spring Musical Theater Class is for kids ages 7-16. It starts on January 20 and will run until April 7.
The course will end with a spring production – The Grunch, a new musical for children – that the students will repeat as part of their lessons. According to Gizen, the play is based on How the Grinch stole Christmas and will take place on April 8 and 9.
“Rudy Grunch is upset with the production of musical theater in school, so he decides to take everything apart and steal the sets, props, costumes, etc.,” she said.
The acting class will be “triple threat,” said Gizen, which means participants will learn fundamental skills related to acting, singing and dancing.
The fully staged production also means that students will learn set design, costumes and stage props.
“[The Grunch] is a great production for a course, ”she said. “It’s not like there are a few lead roles and then all the little roles or supporting roles – they’re all pretty equal. The way we run our course is that everyone has a mini-audition in the first class, and then everyone is selected for production. We just want to make sure that everyone is chosen for a role that is suitable for them. “
She added that the course is meant to be inclusive, targeting both complete theater beginners and those who already have some experience in the performing arts.
“In our last class we certainly had a number of participants who had never held a script, never looked at a sheet music and didn’t know how to read music,” she said. “But they quickly learned all of these things throughout the course, and that’s the whole idea. We want to provide educational opportunities, and that is one of our goals.
The Wizard of Oz
Alongside the youth theater course, Swamp Donkey will also be rehearsing for his main stage production of The Wizard of Oz this spring. Originally scheduled for 2020, Gizen said rehearsals for the play were abruptly halted due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of the same year.
Almost two years later, Gizen said Swamp Donkey is excited to relaunch production, which will run May 13-15.
“We’re bringing this one back to life and re-auditioning just because it’s been so long and there’s been a lot of changes,” she said.
Open hearings for The Wizard of Oz will take place on January 30. Due to an intense rehearsal schedule, Gizen said the production is aimed at actors over the age of 10.
After a few months of rehearsals, the show will take place from May 21 to 23.
Considering the growth of the Swamp Donkey Musical Theater since the company launched in 2018, Gizen said she expects a lot of interest in the company’s upcoming classes and productions from residents. everywhere.
“We welcome people not only from Bragg Creek and surrounding areas, but also far from Calgary, Cochrane and Olds who make the trip to be part of the courses and the productions,” she said. “It just seems to be increasing, so we’re really proud of it. “
For more information on Swamp Donkey, visit swampdonkeytheater.ca