By Pat Carl
Special to The Record
This summer season’s Rainbow Youth Theatre presentation, The Wizard of Oz (Jr.) benefits from a dedicated cadre of RYT Board members, experienced professionals, and volunteers who have a keen interest in musical theatre.
Board members Karae White and Rosie Smith bring their insight and organizational skills to their Wizard co-producer roles. Their understanding of the big picture helps them focus the many tasks assigned to behind-the-scenes production volunteers. That’s absolutely necessary with only a three-week rehearsal schedule and a cast of six- to 14-year-olds, some of whom have musical theatre experience, while others are neophytes.
If one person can bring her professional experience to bear when corralling a gaggle of young actors, it’s Candice Woloshyn, the Wizard’s director. Although relatively new to the Valley, Woloshyn skillfully employs her dance background, honed on the mainland, and her recent experience at Pantuso Dance in musical theatre and with pre-school children, as she directs Wizard. She believes the “supportive group atmosphere and the positive influence more experienced RYT actors bring to rehearsals and performances ignites a creative passion and joy in the younger ones.”
That same passion and joy can be seen in Woloshyn as she approaches each day’s rehearsals.
The same is true of Carrie Lemke, who is the production’s musical director, though she prefers to think of her role in Wizard as that of a vocal coach. As the owner of the Valley’s Carrie Lemke Studios, she has previously coached a number of the Wizard’s cast. Lemke believes that any person who is serious about musical theatre must develop the “triple threat of their craft: acting, dancing and singing.” She recognizes that the Valley and certainly RYT incubate the performing arts in those aspiring to be arts professionals as well as hobbyists. Additionally, performing arts develop “life skills like being able to focus and being committed,” according to Lemke.
As if to verify this, James Coates, a familiar Valley actor and the youth representative to the RYT Board, is turning his talents to the backstage area serving as the Wizard’s stage manager. While he prefers performing, Coates can see the benefit of “knowing all facets of producing a musical.”
Sharing Coates’ view, Monique McKean, a first-time volunteer with RYT, is a general university studies student at North Island College who is interested in fine arts and web design. She wants “to experience many art mediums” and her interests are being put to work in Wizard as she paints scenery for the production. She hopes to gain “artistic confidence and to possibly expand into set design.”
It’s individuals like these who make RYT’s 2015 production of The Wizard of Oz (Jr.) not to be missed. Performances are scheduled at the Mark R. Isfeld stage on July 23, 24, and 25 at 7 p.m. with matinees on July 25 and 26 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and are available from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School, the Laughing Oyster Bookstore, and Red Carpet Consignment.