The excitement is palpable in Nancy Key’s voice as she describes rehearsals just days before her new show begins touring local elementary schools.
“It’s going to be so much fun,” says the writer and director of the latest production by the Lambton Young Theatre Players.
“I’m so pleased with our rehearsals. It’s just a super group of kids.”
Keys founded the young theatre group four years ago after directing the young company at Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia for seven years.
She’s a professional actor with extensive writing and directing experience and wanted to create a performance-training program for young people.
The Lambton Young Theatre Players have always staged their shows at the Sarnia Library Auditorium, but this year the spring show will also go on the road.
“Clever Thomas and The Pirate Queen” is a comedy written by Keys about a young boy who longs for a life of adventure on the high seas.
About 35 local kids, aged 10 to 18, auditioned in January to be part of the show. Two casts – with 12 actors each – have been rehearsing for the past six weeks.
Each cast will tour Lambton County elementary schools for a week, beginning May 4, bringing theatre to the schools rather than the schools to the theatre this time around, said Keys.
“We decided to tour this year because we are trying to reach more schools,” she said. It’s costly to bus elementary students to the library auditorium, so the Lambton Young Theatre Players will be performing in gymnasiums across the county at a cost of $500 per show.
Lambton’s Creative County Fund gave the troop $3,000 to purchase a portable lighting system used at each performance.
The play itself is one hour long, followed by a 30-minute educational component.
“There’s the historic aspect in terms of pirates to discuss,” said Keys. “But we’ll also talk about the basics of theatre acting, playwriting, staging, and light and sound design.”
Ten schools have already booked and Keys said there is still room for more. Call 519-331-3338 for details.
“This show has audience participation. It’s very different for the kids,” she said.
Prior to each performance, each school is asked to suggest two to four players who are assigned parts as town folk and other characters.
Clever Thomas and The Pirate Queen also has two public shows at the Sarnia Library Auditorium on May 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.
Making up the two casts are students from Sarnia, Corunna, Point Edward and the rest of Lambton County. They include Brian Burns, Lily Cardiff, Dawson Currie, Drayton Duran, Kaegan Fulton, Ronan Fulton, Ryan Godwin, Ally Goodacre, David Huizinga, Jared Huizinga, Alyson Jagt, Jayden LaRocque, Julia Laton, Chantal Laton, Dylan Moran, Maitri Patel, Alicia Saint, Beth Schoenmakers, Jesse Vanderveeken, Abby Warren, Anna Williams, Emily Wright and Lauren Wright.
THE PUBLIC SHOWS:
WHAT: Clever Thomas and The Pirate Queen, presented by the Lambton Young Theatre Players.
WHEN: May 22 & 23, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Sarnia Library Auditorium
TICKETS: $8 students, $15 for adults. Available at the door.