This week, Stelly’s Secondary School is presenting their big musical theatre performance of the year, Little Women.
It’s a modern musical with a classic story.
“The music is really engaging to a modern audience and then the tale is just a classic tale and it’s wonderful to be able to choose something with a strong female protagonist and a strong female cast because we always have a ton of girls who take musical theatre and a small number of boys…” said Michelle Cunningham, acting teacher and co-chair of the Performing Arts Department.
She said it’s nice to be able to feature the girls in the program, as the names typically associated with the play are male.
Also putting on the performance is co-chair Norbert Ziegler, who is also a band teacher at Stelly’s.
The group consists of 30 actors, singers and dancers, 12 student musicians who make up the pit orchestra and a group of about 15 stagecraft kids.
Rehearsals go towards the students’ credits, as they are all credited classes.
Generally, the performing students are in Grades 11 and 12.
The orchestra and stagecraft can draw any Stelly’s student from Grades 9 through 12.
The lead in the musical is protagonist Joe March, who is a spitfire kind of girl, pushing against what society expects her to be in the civil war era living in Concord, Massachusetts.
March, who wants to be a writer or an actress on the stage, would love to go to college, but those doors aren’t open to her unless she takes a man’s pen name.
“So it’s kind of her trying to fight against her restraints to find a place where she feels like she fits,” said Cunningham.
Playing the lead protagonist is Grade 12 student Olive Elzinga.
In the musical, her character is surrounded by her sisters who are each very strong personalities as well, but they’re strong in ways very different from her.
In many ways, Cunningham said, they act as a sort of reflection of elements that she sometimes ignores in herself.
“And so through coming to respect all of her sisters and recognizing their influences, that’s how [March is] able to find a way to move forward that works for her and works for her society and for people around her,” she said.
Cunningham said it’s an ensemble cast, which is part of the reason they picked this musical, as there’s great songs for all involved. All of the characters are connected in a way as well.
“Every character that you see on stage is like a little piece of a part of who makes up Joe.”
The Stelly’s group meets every day for 80 minutes and their work is beneficial for the long run.
“The works that they’re doing also helps lead the students towards getting a Heart of The Arts certification,” said Cunningham.
Heart of The Arts is a program Stelly’s runs for kids who are passionate about performing arts or arts in any way. The kids will then get that recognition through their involvement in fine art and the performing arts.
“We even have students, for example, who are in stagecraft getting credits through media or jewellery design. And in their Grade 12 year we meet with them and we help connect them with programs and artists who are working in the community and teach them how to make a living doing what they’re passionate about.”
Little Women is on now and runs until Jan. 13, beginning at 7 p.m. at Stelly’s Secondary School. Tickets are on sale in the Stelly’s main office.
For more information call 250-652-4401.