It’s known as the musical for everyone who’s ever had a dream and put it all on the line. It’s about living life to do what you love.
It’s a two-week marathon of sweat, focus and fun.
And so another season of Courtenay Youth Music Centre’s musical theatre begins. Within 10 rehearsal days, students will create a polished production of the smash Broadway hit, A Chorus Line.
It opens at the Sid Williams Theatre on July 18 and continues until the 24th.
“It’s a brutal, complicated show where students have to dance, act and sing,” Ashley Foot, director of CYMC’s musical theatre program, admits cheerfully. “We all question our sanity every day.”
“The primary challenge,” he continues, “is to make the production as believable and authentic as possible. We’re putting everyone through their paces and keeping a careful eye on the ball.”
A Chorus Line is about 17 dancers auditioning for a new musical. But instead of asking them to dance, the director interviews each person. As their inner thoughts and anxieties reveal motivation, commitment and fear, each is ultimately forced to face the question of what happens when they can no longer perform.
“It’s a demanding show,” acknowledges Foot, “but it’s also really relevant to young people interested in the performing arts.”
The students range in age from 12 to 24. One’s from Australia, another from Dubai. About 60 per cent are Comox Valley residents.
Some are advanced singers and dancers; others have never been on a stage before.
“CYMC doesn’t filter students,” explains Foot. “Anyone who wants to be part of a production is welcome. We value that inclusiveness. Putting novice and experienced students together contributes to their experience.”
“And there’s no rest regarding the schedule,” he adds. “These students are working endless, exhausting hours that would challenge even seasoned performers. It’s a heavy lift for all.”
Due to the short production schedule, every moment counts.
“We always try to use the students well,” says Foot. “We give them down time but also want them to feel stretched and challenged.”
Foot, now in his 11th year at CYMC, started out as a student himself and is now co-ordinator/program director and vocal coach for the musical theatre program.
“I don’t know if everyone realizes just how special CYMC is,” he says. “It often makes a lasting impact on students and creates memories they cherish all their life.”
Working with Foot is Lori Mazey as director, Kris Epps as musical director and Lindsay Sterk as choreographer and dance coach. Mazey and Sterk are well known in the local arts community, while Foot and Epps are based in Montreal.
“It’s a really creative, exciting, energetic team,” notes Foot. “And it’s great to have some of the Comox Valley’s diverse talent as part of CYMC.”
As well as playing at the Sid, CYMC will also take A Chorus Line on tour to the Cowichan Theatre in Duncan.
“We have a very dedicated and enthusiastic audience there,” says Foot. “And it’s great to be able to give the students even a small taste of what it’s like to go on tour.”
Tickets for the Courtenay performance, available through the Sid Williams Theatre, are $20 opening night (July 18) and $25 July 19 to 24. The production contains mature language and content.