Youth heading to the West Side

Comox Valley Youth Music Centre students are tackling one of the most challenging musicals of all time

Mark Allan

Special to the Record

Comox Valley Youth Music Centre students are tackling one of the most challenging musicals of all time.

Director Lori Mazey has no doubt that the young singers/dancers/actors will rise to the occasion as they take West Side Story from page to stage.

“CYMC is such a gigantic commitment … because it’s so intense, three weeks of unbelievable intensity,” she says in an interview.

Rehearsing and performing this particular musical is likely to be more intense than usual, indicates Mazey, who directed West Side Story 14 years ago for Rainbow Youth Theatre.

“The music is amazing and fantastic and never gets old,” Mazey says of the score by Leonard Bernstein. “It’s very difficult music.

“It’s not simple pop tunes. The time signature will change every second bar or every bar sometimes.”

The characters are in their teens, which presents another challenge.

“It’s one of those difficult shows to cast because you kind of need trained opera singers to do the music but for the story to be believable, you need people who are young enough to be believable in those situations.”

What would Mazey, who also teaches in Vanier Secondary School’s award-winning improv comedy program, say to people who hesitate to go to CYMC productions because it’s just kids onstage?

“These are people who spend the bulk of their time and energy getting better at what they do. There are people there who spend 20 hours per week or more dancing.”

“There are people in the show who have spent their whole lives training as singers or actors. You’d be hard-pressed to see a community theatre production with older people in it that would necessarily be better.”

Why is this tale of feuding New York City gangs the Sharks and the Jets in the 1950s an enduring classic?

“This is one more incarnation of Romeo and Juliet and the idea of star-crossed lovers and the idea of something good coming out of something bad,” Mazey ventures.

“In both Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, there’s a glimpse of hope at the end, albeit tiny in West Side Story, it’s still there.”

Mazey understands what CYMC students experience because she used to be one. “I did one show when I was 11 and I did another show when I was 16.”

After returning from university, she volunteered one summer with props and assistant stage management, subsequently teaching, then directing for the first time in 2011.

As a director each summer since then, Mazey starts planning the next year’s musical theatre production almost as soon as the current one is finished.

“When we get into the production itself, it’s pretty much 12- to 14-hour days, sometimes more.”

Teamwork and good communication between the director, choreographer and musical director is essential, Mazey notes.

“It’s probably one of the single most important things, being able to see eye to eye in the storytelling.”

Mazey as director will work extremely closely with choreographer Lindsay Sterk.

“The acting and dance just lead into one another. It’s hard to tell where one begins and the other one ends sometimes.

“I’m really lucky because Lindsay Sterk and (musical director) Shannon Tyrell are an amazing group of people who are passionate about what they do, incredibly experienced and creative. We work really well together.”

After a CYMC musical theatre student showcase July 5 at Mark Isfeld Secondary, West Side Story performances run from July 14 to 18.

Tickets are on sale at sidwilliamstheatre.com or by phoning  250-338-2430.

Founded as a summer retreat for the Vancouver Junior Symphony Orchestra, CYMC is in its 48th year. Jazz and classical music are other programs.

For details about CYMC and 2015 public concerts, visit cymc.ca.

 

Just Posted

Comox Valley Glacier Kings split another pair of games

Yetis best Buccaneers on Saturday at home after road loss to Storm

Campbell River mom’s iPhone containing priceless photos stolen from Victoria hospital parkade

The phone contained photos, heartbeat recordings of her late son

City of Courtenay installing aqua dam in Lewis Park

With winter approaching, seasonal storms are likely to begin affecting the East… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Ceremony to honour National Day of Remembrance on Dec. 6

The ceremony took place at noon on the plaza outside of the Comox Valley Art Gallery.

Scholarships created in honour of Comox Valley man who died in plane crash

Awards related to indigenous studies and the environment will be offered in memory of Micah Messent

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

B.C. universities post $340 million worth of surpluses thanks to international student tuition

Students call for spending as international enrolment produces huge surpluses at many universities

Conservatives urge Morneau to deliver ‘urgent’ fall economic update

Morneau says the first thing the Liberals plan to do is bring in their promised tax cut for the middle class

INFOGRAPHIC: How much money did your local university or college make last year?

B.C. university and colleges posted a combined $340 million surplus in 2018/19

B.C. creates $8.5M organization to improve safety for health care workers

Group will bring together unions, province, health care organizations

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Most Read