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Expect smiles, laughs, and joy from Pathways Expressive Arts show ‘Look Up’

The Pathways Expressive Arts program participants are looking forward to their performance at the Imperial Theatre on April 5th.

If you look up you might find a much-needed burst of happiness from the Pathways Expressive Arts program’s production of ‘Look Up’ on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m.

The show director and creator Jen Brown Nead says audiences will experience nothing short of a good time. 

“I think based on feedback from previous shows, they can expect to feel inspired, to feel uplifted and there are some pretty good songs and dances that happen as well,” she tells the Journal. “I think they can expect to be entertained and not be able to take the smile off their face.”

Pathways Therapeutic Recreation Program has been offering the Expressive Arts Program since 2015 which provides Pathways clients between the ages of 8 and 21 an introduction to learning theatre arts skills. Along with singing and dancing, the participants learn choreography, which all leads up to a final performance. 

‘Look Up’ is their fifth performance at the Imperial Theatre.

“It gives the therapeutic rec clients an opportunity to explore the arts, develop new skills, find different ways of expressing themselves, and really form stronger friendships with some kids they know from other programs,” says Brown Nead. “I feel like working in the theatre you do develop a stronger or different bond than other things I’ve experienced, and it’s allowing them to experience it too.”

Paige Robinson, a Recreation Therapist at Pathways who is involved in the show, says the cast of 19 have been working on learning their numbers since September and can’t wait to show everyone what they have been working so hard on. 

“We practice weekly, one to two hours depending on where we are in the rehearsal process and we are already hitting up show week,” Robinson details.

The countdown is indeed on and the cast and volunteers are ready to show off their hard work, including grade nine student, Xavier Lau.

“I am doing songs. I am dancing to them and I’m singing a solo in one of them and I’m playing instruments,” says Lau. 

‘Look Up’ marks his second time performing with the program and while he does get nervous he says his friends and fellow castmates help to ease his nerves. 

“They are brave. They’ve done the show more than me so I get a little help” explains Lau.

For grade 12 student Elijah Meeder, ‘Look Up’ marks his third show, and he agrees with Xavier that friends in the group are a major factor in what he loves about participating in the production and program. He says people can expect “smiles and laughs” while watching the show. 

And there were many smiles and laughs at the rehearsal. The camaraderie and support these kids share are infectious. So, when watching them practice their song and dance numbers, it’s no surprise that one word continuously comes up when asked what people will take away from watching the show: joy.

“This program provides a source of joy that is unconditional,” agrees Brown Nead. “And I haven’t found another venue that offers that so easily and so freely. No matter what song we are doing or what dance we are working on there is just pure unconditional joy,” she adds.

Abby Wighton is a grade ten student who is an old pro when it comes to performing. She says this will be either her sixth or seventh show and that she likes the fact that she can still get to meet new people while seeing old friends all while getting away from her siblings.

Wighton might be an old pro, but she assures audiences that this show in particular will be,“a little bit different from what we have done in the past. There will be new faces from over the years and they should expect it will be a lot more loud.”

For participants like grade 6 student Zachary Keys, the changes courtesy of Pathways and the Expressive Arts Program have been incredible, something his grandmother Gail Keys says is quite evident. 

“This program has been amazing. He’s [Zachary] developed his self-confidence, he has peers that are like-minded and he just gets along so well. He just thrives. It’s never a problem getting him here,” Keys tells us.

While performing in front of the audience at the Imperial Theatre might have most people balking, Zachary, who deals with high anxiety has no problem getting up there and performing.

“I just love watching the kids and how much they have grown over the year. Just watching them shine and have a lot of fun, this program is amazing,” says Keys.

‘Look Up’ is Friday, April 5th at 7 pm at the Imperial Theatre. Tickets can still be purchased online or through the theatre box office. $29 for adults, $25.50 for seniors, and $17.50 for 18 and under.