Cornerstone Youth Theatre is gearing up to unveil their latest theatrical production – Hercules – A Hero’s Tale – opening Friday evening at the First Church of the Nazarene in Red Deer.
Curtain is 7 p.m.
Additional shows, including several matinee performances, run through to June 8th.
Director Evan Rein, who co-directed Grimm Fairytales earlier this year, is in the director’s chair this time around.
Cornerstone Youth Theatre produces three musicals per year.
As to the production, it is described as Greek mythology at its best featuring Hercules, an ‘awkward hero’, a mentoring sidekick named Platie and an ‘anything but helpless’ love interest nicknamed Nani.
Audiences will enjoy watching this boy grow into the man he wants to be as he learns to use his might for what is right.
“He’s a young boy who is trying to find a place to belong. What he’s really after is a destiny,” says Rein. “He doesn’t know what he wants or where he should go, so he’s trying to find his place in the world.”
He doesn’t really fit in at home, and finds himself getting into trouble. “So his adoptive father sends him on a journey so he can find his destiny. Along the way he runs into Zeus, his actual father, and finds out that he is indeed different than his peers.
“Zeus explains that in order for him to regain his immortality, he must solve three riddles.” Hercules embarks on an adventure to reach that goal. Of course, there is plenty more packed in along the way, too.
As Rein points out, his approach to directing the show proved quite collaborative.
“My idea is that when we are rehearsing, the best idea wins,” he said. “So if an actor comes up with an idea or choice that works then we will go with it. But I would always come to rehearsal with predetermined blocking and ideas of what I want the show to look like.
“But one of the great aspects of working in theatre is collaboration – there are so many different aspects to it.”
In planning the show, much of the shape of the story was of course mapped out in the script. The troupe is using a version that was penned by Andy Orr – husband to Cornerstone Youth Theatre’s artistic director Stephanie Orr.
“He’s also the composer and the lyricist, so we’ve worked really closely with him,” explained Rein. The production also features a number of songs as well as choreography, so it’s a big undertaking. Not to mention the fact the cast numbers 54.
“It’s a mega-musical,” he adds with a laugh, noting there are about 23 tunes woven into the production’s plot. “It’s really a story of redemption and a story of grace. I hope that it instills hope in the viewers.”
Rein, a Red Deer native, got his own start with Cornerstone Youth Theatre as a student. His passion for the theatre was sparked as a youngster when he and his brother would make home videos and try all kinds of visual effects. “I then went to a drama camp when I was 16, and that was actually my first stage experience.”
His first official acting stint with the troupe was back in 2010 in Charlotte’s Web. He continued on and wrapped up three more shows. After that he moved to Calgary and continued to act with Storybook Theatre and Evergreen Theatre. It was also while living in Calgary that he studied with the Company of Rogues Actors’ Studio and the Loose Moose Theatre Company.
He eventually returned to Red Deer, and took on the co-directing role with the aforementioned Grimm Fairytales this year. It proved a compelling shift away from acting, but a fulfilling one.
“As a director you are thinking about everything. As an actor, you really only have one person to worry about, but as director you have the entire team to be thinking about.”
Cornerstone Youth Theatre provides local young people with an opportunity to be involved in quality theatrical experiences where they can explore the world of the stage on many levels. Typically, plays feature youth from the ages of eight to 18.
There are also lots of opportunities to volunteer as well, organizers say.
This can mean family members being along for the ‘ride’ as their son or daughter hones his or her skills during the course of rehearsals leading up to a particular production. Ultimately, it provides a wide range of parts that fit with the various levels of experience and confidence the kids bring with them. But of course, it’s a joy to see how they grow as rehearsals unfold.
Rein said he is inspired by the cooperative nature of those involved, and as the play is about to be unveiled, it’s rewarding to see how all the elements fit together in a seamless production.
“It just amazes me how many aspects there are that I don’t even get to see,” he adds. “And then somehow it all comes together.”
For performance times, details about matinee performances and additional ticket information, call 403-986-2981 or check out www.cornerstoneyouththeatre.org. Tickets are also available at the door.