“And the best that we can do is hope a bluebird, will sing his song, as we stumble along!”
As the final line of River’s Edge Theatre’s 2022 production of The Drowsy Chaperone is sung, the actors move to get ready for the bows. After a long seven months of rehearsals, The Drowsy Chaperone, described by MTI shows is a show about “a die-hard theatre fan who plays his favorite cast album where the characters come to life in this hilarious musical farce,” closed on March 22. This makes it the first show in the district since the 2020 production of Chicago, which also happened to be the last show in the district since COVID-19.
As Riverside’s latest musical wrapped up, students reflected on the journey and how they have grown on the way. “The best part of this year’s theatre was definitely the community,” said grade 10 student Scarlett Stratton, who played a chorus girl in the Marriott cast. “Building an art form with a group of passionate people creates a bond like no other. This year those connections definitely flourished, and I
think it really showed in the depth of our performance, making the whole experience even more worthwhile,” said Stratton.
Over the years, the theatre at Riverside has developed a tight-knit welcoming community. Alyssa Mawji, a grade 12 who played George in the Morosco cast, described the theatre community at Riverside as a family. “We will always be there for each other whether it’s with makeup or costumes or schoolwork or homelife.” Theatre not only helps students find a community to belong to, but it also helps students discover who they are. “I was always shy growing up and never really had a place,” said Mawji. “I kind of just floated around from group to group. Theatre has given me a sense of purpose and an amazing group of individuals who do nothing but support me.”
When it comes to the musical theatre course at Riverside, Stratton compared the class to a cake. “I know the analogy sounds weird, but it makes sense. You start with a few simple ingredients all plain and untouched, but as a group, you put those items together in order to make something magical. It’s hard work but overall, the outcomes always leave everyone with a smile, a community, and contentment,” said Stratton. Riverside offers many classes in the performing arts that are open to anyone of any skill level, including Musical theatre, Dance, Dance Performance, Drama, Theatre Company, Directing and Scriptwriting, and Performing Arts Leadership.
Theatre not only helps students strengthen their performing skills. “Theatre has taught me a lot about putting myself out there and being confident in myself,” said Julie Einarson, a grade 11 student. “In the theatre program, I’ve learned not to be afraid to take opportunities whenever they come my way,” said Einarson. All the theatre students agreed that getting involved with theatre has increased their confidence. “It is not an abnormal case to say that theatre will break anyone out of a shell,” said Stratton. “The only way for this art form to be its best is if everyone involved is willing to take themselves to a place of uncertainty and learn to cope and connect with the situation that they have been given.”
River’s Edge Theatre has been a safe and welcoming place for students, no matter one’s background or skill; everyone is welcomed. The bond that formed between the actors of the Drowsy Chaperone is like no other. As Stratton aptly put, “There is nothing like finding a group of people that would figuratively jump off a bridge for you.”
To students at River’s Edge, Theatre means home. “Ever since grade nine, I spent almost every free hour in theatre,” said Mawji. “I would go before school, go at lunch, and go afterschool. I can honestly say I have spent more time in theatre than I do at home most days.” It’s a special place for this kind of supportive group to exist in our school; when students are in need, they can always come back to the theatre and remember the fun times of The Drowsy Chaperone with their castmates.
Feature Photo courtesy of Janine Grant