Stelly’s Secondary wrapped up their run of The Little Mermaid last week and director Alicia Bartlett called it “probably the most successful show we’ve ever had.”
The musical, based on the well-known Disney film, featured Niah Davis as Ariel and Jono Devey as Prince Eric.
The 225-seat multi-purpose room was sold out for every show except opening night, where only about 10 seats were unfilled.
Bartlett said one of the highlights for her happened after the Saturday matinée.
“We had quite a few kids in the audience and when we finished the show, we had all the actors stay out on the stage in costume and all the kids came down and took photos with them and were so excited to go meet all the characters,” said Bartlett. “That was an amazing thing to see.”
Because of the well-known source material, Bartlett said the audience came from far and wide.
“A lot of people came to see the show who didn’t know anyone in the cast or crew, so it was really nice to chat with them afterwards and from a lot of parents. They were surprised their kids could sit through the show, for one, and just have live theatre in the community appropriate for that age. We were really happy about that.”
As with previous performances in the space, Bartlett said the facility could use significant improvement.
She said students changed in hallways and classrooms and there is limited backstage space. The Little Mermaid had many sets and Bartlett said there was no backstage space left for the cast, so “they had to walk over and crawl over things to get out on stage.”
She said the equipment is outdated and the curtains have tears in them.
“We do the best we can with the facility we have, but there are a lot of things we’d do differently if we had a different space,” said Bartlett.
Jan Heinrichs, vice-president of the Society for the Community Arts Theatre at Stelly’s (SCATS), saw the show and said it was “absolutely fabulous.” She sent a letter of congratulations to the principal and the cast.
“They are putting out an incredible product, changing students’ lives, creating opportunities for teamwork and skill development in the arts and technical aspects of theatre.”
Heinrichs, who taught musical theatre at Stelly’s for 22 years, said she is familiar with the space and said it’s “extremely limited.”
When Heinrichs attended a recent dress rehearsal during classroom hours, she said students were changing in English classrooms while the class was going on, which she said was “totally unacceptable.”
The space is also not accessible to wheelchairs and walkers, said Heinrichs.
“We ended up putting them by the sound and lighting booth, and there was very limited space for the actors to make their entrance from that point.”
She has been trying to get a theatre built for the last six years along with Ron Broda and Society members. She said they are grateful for the community’s generosity so far, but they are still looking for a large corporate donor to come forward.
“We’re looking for the community angel looking to put their stamp on the school by adding a well-deserved theatre space which will be used by the community as well.”
To raise money, there is a Valentine’s Dance on Feb. 10 at Saanich Fairgrounds Main Hall featuring Commodores Big Band, Bayside Big Band and Stelly’s Jazz Band. Tickets are $20 and can be bought at Brentwood Bay Village Empourium, Seahorses Cafe and Stelly’s Secondary or online at brownpapertickets.com/event/3206034. There are door prizes and a cash bar.