Virden Collegiate Institute’s production of "The Addams Family" has been selected as a Rainbow Stage School Award recipient.
The award includes a cash prize of $1,000, as well as special recognition at Rainbow Stage’s opening night of "Beauty and the Beast" on Aug. 16.
"As a small school, it’s always thrilling to have these judges come out from Winnipeg who are experts in the field," said director Michelle Chyzyk.
"We’re proud of the work we’ve done in our community, but it’s really nice to be appreciated from the outside, by the big city folks."
Rainbow Stage is a musical theatre company based in Winnipeg, providing world-class professional productions. It is Canada’s largest and longest-running outdoor theatre, located in Kildonan Park.
The company presents awards annually to junior high and high schools in Manitoba for excellence in the production of musical theatre. Their representatives visit applying schools to watch and assess productions.
VCI’s production of "The Addams Family" ran in May at the Aud Theatre. The lead roles of Gomez and Morticia were played by Grade 12 student Dane Leslie and Grade 11 student Emily Cochrane.
"I feel very honoured," Cochrane said. "I know that everyone in the cast put a lot of work into ‘The Addams Family,’ so it’s a really nice award to get. It’s very special."
Cochrane enjoyed diving into the character of Morticia, tackling the dark personality and look to match. As a natural red-head, Cochrane had fun with the black wig and transforming makeup.
"Just becoming someone new is a great part of the experience," she said.
The production had a cast of approximately 50 students between grades 9 to 11. Cochrane said there was an incredible bond between the performers.
"We were all there to help each other. It was really nice to have such a welcoming cast that would help you through the whole experience," she said.
Assistant director Dean Munchinsky said the Rainbow Stage award is both exhilarating and humbling to receive.
"It’s nice to have people that see theatre all around come and experience what we have, and see the value that has been grown here in Virden," he said.
Munchinsky said musical theatre is a chance to see people working together for a common goal.
"The chorus was a beautiful thing in ‘Addams Family,’ because all those kids, they stood up there, they were working," he said.
"They maybe didn’t have a name or a line but what they had was a role and they fulfilled it. It was beautiful to watch."
Munchinsky enjoyed the designing aspect of the show, which included interesting props like a torture table and chair.
"The idea is to help people transport from this reality to the reality that you put in front of them," he said.
“A top-tier show”
The Rainbow Stage judges provided glowing reviews, mentioning the "hours of effort that were put into making this a top-rate production." They noted excellent choreography and said that the chorus was strong with beautiful vocals and harmonies.
"Production values were high: strong vocals, strong acting, sharply executed dance, fabulous costumes and a solid set," read the judges report. "This was a top-tier show."
Laurel Eslinger played the part of Wednesday Addams, while her romantic interest, Lucas Beineke, was brought to life by John Sorza.
Other cast members included Shane Groom (Uncle Fester), Garett Krieser (Pugsley), Ruth Thiessen (Grandma), while Julian Berg and Heinrich Neufeld shared the role of Lurch the butler.
Diana Pringle and Will Draper played the role of Lucas’ parents, Alice and Mal Beineke.
As the director, Chyzyk said she was thrilled to see the students’ hard work recognized with such a prestigious award.
"The kids are very talented, very committed, very intelligent and very coachable," she said.
She expressed her gratitude to everyone who played a part in the production, from those on the technical/lighting side to those who worked on costumes/makeup and set production.
(courtesy The Brandon Sun)