MANITOWANING – It was a full-house for Assiginack Theatre Camp’s (ATC) rendition of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ held at Knox United Church in Manitowaning last weekend—the culmination of an intensive week-long theatre camp for 20 lucky would-be thespians.
“It was filled to the rafters!” Marilyn Wohlberg, ATC music director, enthused. “And they loved it!”
Ms. Wohlberg explained that, following the Burns Wharf Theatre Players’ (BWTP) production of ‘The Baker’s Wife’ held late this spring, her thoughts turned to a youth theatre camp such as the ones she used to host with son Darcy at the Burns Wharf Theatre a number of years ago.
Because the BWT is not up to code, the Players have had to improvise over the last few years, holding productions at Debajehmujig, the public school and this year, at the sanctuary of Knox United.
While the sanctuary was still set up for the Burns Wharf Players with a stage and lighting, Ms. Wohlberg thought a summer kids’ camp, with the congregation’s blessing, would be ideal so she soon got to work, speaking with Assiginack events coordinator Jackie White who immediately got on board. Following the official nod from council, Ms. Wohlberg spoke with Rev. Martin Garniss and the Knox congregation. She knew they were eager to get back into their sanctuary but thought she’d take a chance. They gave the camp the go-ahead and Ms. Wohlberg now needed son Darcy, a Sudbury high school teacher, to get on board too.
“Knox agreed, Darcy agreed and that set all the wheels in motion,” Ms. Wohlberg said.
The pair then had Natalia Bell, a Grade 10 student at Manitoulin Secondary, hired on as camp assistant.
“Prior to the camp there’s lots of things to organize: props, costumers,” she continued. “Darcy wrote the whole script.”
The cap had to be put on 20 children even though there were more who wanted to join, Ms. Wohlberg said.
The campers were all given the script and lyrics one week prior to the start of the camp and were encouraged to start learning the lines and to pick a character for their audition.
The roles were filled by the following theatre students: Snow White, Cameron Meawasige; The Wicked Queen, Saveen Clayton; The Mirror, Garrett Charbonneau; The Woodsman, Ethan Leblanc; The Prince, Matthew Gulyas; The Trees, Matthew Gulyas, Sunday O’Leary and Faer O’Leary; The Animals, Chloe Moggy, Novella Therrien, Violet Bell, Steven Gulyas, Miah Hughson and Cadence Young; and the dwarves: Sleepy, Amanda Gulyas; Dopey, Ayden Hartley, Bashful, Tanner Leblanc; Grumpy, Dylan Kuntsi; Doc, Georgia Riss; Happy, Ava Hartley; and Sneezy, Marley Meawasige.
Other important roles included: lighting and sound, Isaac Gosse; stage hands, Ayla Closs, Chloe Otosquaiob and Jack Hughson; props, Lisa Closs, Marilyn Wohlberg, Linda Vanderveen, Jean McLennan, Georgina Lovelace and the BWTP; costumes, Kathy Hughson, Valerie O’Leary, Linda Vanderveen, Freda Bond, Rachel Gulyas, Spotify Custom Apparel, Mary Sutherland and the BWTP; and makeup by Sandra Pope, Hope Gulyas, Bethany Gulyas and Natalia Bell.
“The kids were all just so amazing,” Ms. Wohlberg gushed “They all wanted to be there. All the kids got along so well; they were funny. Just great kids.”
Following the success of Assiginack Theatre Camp, the municipality is hoping to make it a yearly event. Ms. Wohlberg, who enjoyed herself immensely, did find the busy mornings a bit much. Natalia, who will be 16 next summer and who is studying for her Grade 8 piano exam, would make an excellent musical director, Ms. Wohlberg added, with her support and guidance, of course.
“I’m very, very pleased with the township for stepping up to the plate—for sponsoring the theatre camp,” Ms. Wohlberg continued. “We have a mayor and council who are beside the BWTP 100 percent.”
She said having a theatre camp such as this enhances the lives of the children involved, “especially those who may not be athletic whizzes. This is a little training ground to graduate into the Players.”
Next summer’s BWTP production is ‘Annie.’ This summer’s lead, Cameron Meawasige, in fact, has been tapped for the lead role. “We need more little girls and there were several who really shone.”
Fellow BWTP music director Ray Scott also attended the show Saturday night to scout for Players talent.
“It ensures the life of the BWTP,” Ms. Wohlberg added. “That’s how you keep it going.”
Once the production was finished, a call went out for every able-bodied person in the audience to help Knox United get its sanctuary back, pulpit, communion table and all, in time for Sunday service the next morning.