North Kildonan’s Community Players (NKCP) is bringing Christmas to town with a production of Elf the Musical and the magic of community theatre.
The community theatre company behind popular musical productions like last year’s Mary Poppins will present their 24th show at the St. Boniface University’s theatre from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1.
Adapted from the 2003 film starring Will Ferrell, the play follows Buddy, a man raised from childhood by elves in the North Pole, who is returned to New York as an adult. The film was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2010, which The New York Times called “splashy, peppy, sugar-sprinkled holiday entertainment.”
Laurie Fischer, director of NKCP’s production of Elf says, “It is the type of show where people will go in and from start to finish be filled with the holiday spirit.”
Ari Weinberg, artistic director of Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, says community theatre “is a really great introduction to theatre for people who have never performed before, who are intrigued by a career in theatre ... It is an incredible community. It is in the title ‘community theatre’ ... it is a great way to connect with people who are just as passionate ... about theatre.”
Weinberg says community theatre provides a variety of roles for newcomers to the stage.
“Musical theatre is the most collaborative art form, providing a wide variety of roles for people at different levels of interest and experience in theatre,” Weinberg says. “For people who are more seasoned, who are playing principal roles, it gives them a great opportunity to hone their skills and develop their craft ... People who are performing for the first time, (can participate) in the ensemble or by playing a smaller role.”
However, working in community theatre is not just about performing.
“I always tell my casts that community theatre is not just about being onstage and acting. You have to help with props, you have to build sets, you have to help with paint, you have to gather costumes, so what it really does is give a well-rounded background to musical theatre or theatre in general,” Fischer says.
The variety of available jobs makes community theatre an educational experience as well as an artistic one.
“NKCP is known in the Winnipeg theatre community as a great teaching ground,” Fischer says. “We’re very proud of the fact that several of our alumni have gone on to professional (theatre) careers, and we really feel we gave them a good basis.”
Some of the many theatre professionals who have worked with NKCP are choreographer Rebekah Jones, director Rachel Cameron and Kimberley Rampersad, who recently directed The Color Purple at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre.
“Theatre is the connective tissue of a shared creative passion,” Weinberg says.
Fischer agrees. “Community theatre is vital in any city or town or village, because it brings people together, not just the cast members and the production members as a family, but the audience as well.”
Elf the Musical runs from Nov. 27 to Dec. 1 at the St. Boniface University theatre at 200 Cathedral Ave.