Georges Vanier Elementary Fine Arts School presented The Big Five Zero a wonderfully crafted piece pulled from the hat of teacher/musician/artist/Impresario Jeff Cunanan & admirably directed by Alyssa Deacon this past week.
Written for the 50th Anniversary celebrations we follow two clever students, Vic (Jodie Lysyshyn) and Gerry (Mikayla Reschny), as they discover the long rumoured hidden school basement with its treasures and spirits. Jodi and Mikayla carried the action with energetic performances well beyond their years, always fresh and cheeky.
Their parents played with deadpan irony & tongue-in-cheek caricature by Renelle Hunter and Christopher Bantle, remember the good old days of good ol'Vanier. Along the way we meet Music Teacher Mrs. C (Sarah Twa), Secretary (Robyn Peiffer), Hippy Man (Joey Schatz), and the Ghosts of Students past (Jonathan Forest, Nicole Opsal & Jayne Barrett) revealing snippets of school history and lore.
The ultimate challenge for the two students occurs in the classic Mephistophelean twist - if you're in the basement then you're here to stay ... at least that's what "They" say. When confronted in the basement dungeon by the ubiquitous "They", powerfully performed by ensemble Shannon Haughian, Madison Hart, Christiana Dingwall and Brittany Peacock, the two students seek salvation playing a game of cards and win. The reward turns out to be their completed assignment: a fully documented research paper on the importance of the Fine Arts program in the context of Catholic Education.
Each grade presented a scene from the Grade 4/5 Heritage Celebration dance and the stunning Grade 8 Sock Hop dance both choreographed by Katie McGuigan-Scott to the brilliant music class key scene, the drama class skits and breath taking Grade 6/7 percussion performance culminating to a brimming stage of over a hundred enthusiastic students at curtain call.
Current Principal Mr. Bauche made a guest appearance as the true Hippy man serenading all with "Blowing in the Wind" as proof and Mr. Cunanan himself, harmonica in hand backed by fine guitar and drum licks, led the bored Grade 7's in a gut wrenching rendition of the Georges Vanier Blues.
The minimal set painted by the Grade 8's and Mrs. Martin served the action well and was fluidly handled by a smooth backstage crew (Angele Lalond, Gabriella Fortugno, Caitlyn Barton). Special mention goes to Light & Sound Co-ordinator Kaylin Flowers. The script blends stereotypical snapshots and defining moments of Georges Vanier with a comic ease allowing the talents of the cast to flourish. Precisely this mission of educating the imagination through daily observance and simple encouragement is ultimately the practice of this fine arts school.
The matinee was graced by Mrs. Myrna Dedick who tirelessly served the school for so many years and as the program eloquently stated the piece was dedicated to the two pillars of the school - first principal Mr. Evan Lord and principal Mrs. Delores Switzer (Haberman) who nurtured and established the legacy that is Georges Vanier. The achievements of Vanier graduates have the belief and dedication of those two founders as inspirational source.
Hats off to all and to Mr. Cunanan put your hat back on and we await the next creative act you have up your sleeve.
- See: theater
:: note :: ... only those who have produced a show with elementary students know the commitment required ... watching i returned to years ago when we presented City Without Love & Snow Queen, creating puppet shows at recess, and video projects ... despite the times they are a'changin' it seems to return back in on itself ... "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils" -- Louis Hector Berlioz ...