Young players in “Definitely A Musical” include (from left to right) Devyn Argue, Elias Shaan, Raunuk Chand, Griffin Armstrong, Ryan Tsang, Ethan Puchailo and Simran Bhullar. Cast members not pictured are Ella Ramsay, Gavin Whitehead-Coleman, Sam Jesperson and Keenan Gonzales. The show will be performed at Surrey Arts Centre on July 27 and 28. (submitted photo)

Musical theatre

Surrey teens create ‘Definitely A Musical’ in year-long project now ready for stage

‘They’ve taken that challenge and run with it, and created something really fun’

Some Surrey teens have spent close to a year creating an original, full-length musical set to hit the stage.

It’s called Definitely A Musical, a project that involves students and staff at Inspire Arts Academy, located in the Panorama area of Surrey.

The “comedic fantasy” will be staged three times at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre on Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28.

Last summer, under the direction of Alyssa Hanson-Smith and Karen McKenzie, a group of high school students work-shopped their own original concept that left teachers so impressed with their creativity, they decided to help them produce their own full-length show.

The result is Definitely A Musical, which features themes of friendship, teamwork, freewill and surrealism.

“This is an effort to get valuable experience for them to make that final step into community theatre,” McKenzie said. “For a lot of them – not all, some – it’s their first step into the real world of theatre, outside of high school.”

The script was written by all 11 cast members, many of them Sullivan Heights Secondary students, with some guidance from McKenzie and Hanson-Smith.

The family-friendly show is about what happens when characters start going “off book and testing the limits of their own free will. It has danger, romance, sword fights, adventure, and … lemons?”

McKenzie elaborates.

“The characters realize they’re trapped in a musical and they all start coming to that realization,” she explained. “One character is the script writer of the show, and it all starts to break apart as the script writer tries to keep it together, this facade.”

The stars of Definitely A Musical are Ella Ramsay (as Narrator), Raunuk Chand (Kevin), Devyn Argue (Chicken Girl/Kick), Griffin Armstrong (Jameson Granger), Sam Jesperson (Robin), Elias Shaan (Trig), Gavin Whitehead-Coleman (Farmer/Kleo), Ryan Tsang (Fisherman/Sir Vent), Ethan Puchailo (Baker’s Son), Simran Bhullar (Lucy) and Keenan Gonzales (Piano Player), with music by Elias Shaan. Hanson-Smith directs, with musical direction by McKenzie.

The brand-new musical, brought to the stage with contributions from donors and sponsors via a crowdfunding campaign, is performed in addition to winter and spring recitals Inspire Arts Academy does at Surrey Arts Centre.

Show times for Definitely A Musical are 7 p.m. on July 27, and 2 and 6 p.m. on July 28. Tickets are priced at $20 for adult, $17 for children, via tickets.surrey.ca, or call 604-501-5566. “This show is family friendly, but does contain some staged violence,” says a Facebook event post. Run time is approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.

“We’ve been rehearsing at Inspire Arts five nights a week for the last few weeks,” McKenzie noted, “and when school was still in it was three rehearsals a week, depending on how much time the kids could manage.”

McKenzie said she and Hanson-Smith aimed to give the students an opportunity to perform their own material in a more professional setting.

”Theatre creation is so important, and we wanted to encourage new voices to share their thoughts and ideas to the community,” McKenzie said.

Added Hanson-Smith: “We want to show them that they can and should create their own projects, that it’s not impossible. They’ve taken that challenge and run with it, and created something really fun.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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