Broadway North Youth Company taking new approach for fall performances

Photo courtesy Broadway North Theatre Company Summer intensive intermediate students rehearse on the E.A. Rawlinson Centre stage during this week’s program. The success of the summer program is helping staff plan for the fall.

Building off the first week of their modified summer intensive, The Broadway North Youth Company has announced its plans for the fall.

Usually, the company puts on a fall musical each year. But with COVID-19 guidelines restricting both the number of performers and audience members allowed in the theatre, the company had to take a different approach.

On Friday, the company announced plans for its first-ever fall intensive, which will operate a hybrid of their existing summer and fall program models.

Students will gather every Saturday to learn dance, voice and acting skills. Instead of culminating in a musical production, this year’s group will put on a pair of one-act plays, driven by the skills learned by the students, performed for limited-capacity paying audiences on the evenings of Dec. 10, 11 and 12. Matinees might be added to the run if regulations allow.

Students will still audition for roles in the productions, and while the plays themselves aren’t musicals, the intensive will still blend in dance and voice skills and incorporate workshops for added interests.

This year’s program also marks the debut of a class specifically for technical theatre students between the ages of 12 and 18 who want to learn the skills needed to produce a play. They will be the “magic behind the scenes” during showtime, a press release said.

As with the summer program, there will not be a junior age group this year, instead, senior and intermediate students will be accepted, with each age category limited to 15 students each. The technical theatre category will be limited to ten students. Students will be expected to maintain physical distancing and masks will be required.

“This is still the three-month program parents are used to, but rather than the big, expensive musical at the end, because we can only have so many students and audience members, we had to downsize everything,” said E.A. Rawlinson Centre marketing and events coordinator Cara Stelmaschuk.

“We’ll still be adding in other skills learned that will be folded into the shows, but it’s going to be simple productions at the end, two one-act plays. It’s still very educational.”

The Broadway North staff couldn’t stomach the thought of skipping an entire year, so they used what they had learned offering the modified summer intensive and adapted it for the fall season.

“There are cleaning protocols we’ve been using and the kids have been wearing masks. It’s not even an issue,” Stelmaschuk said.

“The kids have been adapting. It really hasn’t been too intrusive to the program.”

Registration opens on Thursday at 11 a.m., and Stelmaschuk told people to register even if the classes are full, as anyone on the waitlist will have first priority should restrictions loosen and more kids be allowed to participate.

“Everything is going to have to be adapted as we go along,” Stelmaschuk said.

“The good thing about doing theatre is people are creative, so they find ways to make it work.”