The Program for Academic and Creative Enrichment (PACE) Musical Theatre Academy’s latest production makes over 50 years of hits from Broadway musical history appealing to the entire family.
‘And…the Tony Goes to?’ features productions familiar to adults such as ‘Come From Away’ and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ that will be performed alongside kid’s favourites like Spongebob Squarepants and Shrek.
“It’s one of those things that everyone in the family can come to. I think we have something for a full range from young to old family entertainment,” said the director, Sandy Webster-Worthy.
Over 300 performers – from Kindergarten to Grade 12 – will be putting on the musical, many of whom have been making recurring appearances with the Sooke School District 62 academy.
Some of the choices for the show’s content are meant to be opportunities for the students to add context to the periods the musicals were written in and to showcase their talents, Webster-Worthy said.
“The content of ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ what does that say about what’s happened in the age of isolation?”
Elementary students play paperboys for a number from ‘Newsies,’ a 1992 musical that deals with the newsboys strike of 1899, a campaign to end the exploitation of child labor carried out by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers.The array of theatrical styles grants students a broad range to work with and lends perspectives to different periods in time, Worthy added.
“It’s not just learning a number and doing it on stage.”
The cast this year is “incredibly talented” and has been “exciting to work with,” Webster-Worthy said. Some students have been doing 20 to 30 shows a year for 13 years, she said, adding more than half the students have been coming for multiple years now.
“There are kids with 120 shows under their belts, and they’re ten years old.”
Rehearsals for the production started since mid-January, with the cast coming in Sundays from a host of municipalities as far as Duncan, Sooke, and Cowichan, she said.
The once-a-week sessions are more in line with professional productions than with high school performances, which means they can be intense, she said. But with 50 volunteers on hand – from grandparents to parents and alumni – helping with costuming, props and staging, and four choreographers and musical directors, coordination can be the biggest challenge, she said.
“We’ve been doing this for 30 years. We’ve got it pretty organized.”
With only 300 seats per show, tickets for opening day are sold out, Webster-Worthy said.
The musical numbers are being ‘hosted’ in a format resembling Tony awards by notable local PACE alumni and local stand-up comedian Shawn O’Hara, with ‘American Vandal’ star and Webster-Worthy’s son actor Calum Worthy co-hosting the opening weekend.
The show runs April 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, at 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. shows April 19, 20, 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students and seniors and $12 for adults. They are on sale at Westshore Learning Centre at 814 Goldstream or can be bought by calling 250-391-9002.