The first sounds that will fill the John and Olive Diefenbaker Theatre at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre since it shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be those of children.
The E.A. Rawlinson will be playing host to the Broadway North Youth Company Summer Intensive from Aug. 10-14, the first program to come to the arts centre since facilities were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
This year’s program looks a little different. For one, there will only be two age groups, as the Rawlinson Centre wasn’t able to accommodate the youngest kids in its junior-level class.
Second, class sizes for intermediate and senior levels will be capped at 15.
‘We’re very excited, not just to have people back in the building but to have activity going on and for the kids to have something to do,” said Rawlinson Centre marketing coordinator Cara Stelmaschuk.
“They’ve been at home — I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a 12-year-old right now, stuck at home, not able to see friends since March. It’s really nice to offer some kind of educational component (and) socializing.”
As in past years, the kids will learn a few song and dance numbers, while learning about performing and acquiring skills such as singing, dancing and acting. However, in past years, those skills have been put on display in a short show at the end of the week for parents.
This year, though, the Rawlinson Centre can’t accommodate a performance due to COVID-19 restrictions, so parents will get a video of the work done by their kids instead.
“We’ll edit it really nicely, it will look good and they’ll have it as a keepsake for what they did at camp,” Stelmaschuk said.
Additionally, ids in the intermediate and senior age groups will be separated into different parts of the building. Instructors will be with the two different groups, but each group will also have its own assistant to help remind them of social distancing and of other pandemic-related safety measures.
The 15 person cap is also to be able to maintain physical distance.
“If the groups were bigger, there would be no way we could keep six feet apart and keep each to their own zone,” Stelmaschuk explained.
So far, there’s been a lot of demand. The senior category filled up in just a half-hour, and the intermediate age group only has one spot left.
However, the program is setting up a waiting list, and if there’s enough interest, they’ll launch a second week.
“People are pretty excited something’s happening,” Stelmaschuk said.
So far, five people are on the waiting list for the senior age group. However, Broadway North is hoping to fill up, or come close to filling, that waiting list before committing to a second week.
They’re confident, as the first signups were only those on the internal mailing list. The program has yet to reach out to the broader community.
“If people sign up for the waiting list, we can gauge what the demand is,” Stelmaschuk said.
“I think we can get a few kids trying it for the first time this year. That’s the hope.”
The program also has a new instructor this year. While Roxanne Dicke and Stephanie Lokinger are returning to teach drama and dance respectively, singer Lauren Lohneis is joining the team to lead the music and vocal instruction.
Lohneis grew up in Prince Albert and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with her B.Ed/B. Mus. Degrees. She began her career as a band and choir teacher in the Prince Albert Catholic School division at Rivier, St. Anne and St. Mary, before moving to the public division to teach band and music at Red Wing, Spruce Home and Christopher Lake schools. She also appeared as Rosie in the 2019 Broadway North production of Mamma Mia.
“She’s an incredibly talented lady,” Stelmaschuk said. “that’s exciting. And, she’s a teacher. She gets kids and knows how to teach kids.”
Each group will have an assistant as well. While those assistants have yet to be finalized, Stelmaschuk said the hope is they will also be people with performing arts backgrounds who can act as mentors.
Registration for the program is still open on the E.A. Rawlinson Centre website. Registrations will be added to the waitlist and contacted if another week of programming opens up. People are encouraged to register.
The weeklong program costs $300.