Thursday, July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024

‘Enchanted’ year-end performance set for StageCoach

It’s been a busy time for Christina Penhale. 

While simultaneously producing ArtSpring’s 25th anniversary celebration and teaching island youth, the StageCoach Theatre School’s artistic director has also managed to co-direct the school’s vital year-end show — The Enchanted Bookshop, ready to hit the stage at ArtSpring this weekend. 

It’s an effort that has been shepherded by a “dream team” of talent, Penhale said, including instructors Adina Hildebrandt, Maggie O’Scalleigh and a troupe of promising young thespians — and it’s those island youth that have made it the effort worthwhile.  

“Our students learn so much,” said Penhale. “While preparing for the show they build skills and explore topics surrounding empathy, teamwork, leadership and compassion. It’s incredible to watch their confidence grow as they embrace the creative process.” 

Actors from three different classes will bring The Enchanted Boookshop to life for one of their grandest performances yet. 

The show celebrates the joy of reading and is full of characters the audience will find familiar — Snow White, Robin Hood and Captain Hook all long to help Margie save her struggling bookstore from a pair of bungling thieves.  

Add a toe-tapping score from Stephen Murray and this charming musical is guaranteed to enchant audiences young and old — and is exactly the sort of family-friendly fare StageCoach shows are known for, according to school administrator Jen MacLellan. She said that many of the more than 1,000 Salt Spring students who have performed with the school over the years “self-recruited” right after seeing a performance. 

“One of my favourite things is listening to families chatting as they leave the show,” said MacLellan. “Children giggling about the characters they liked best, talking about the actors and wishing they could be on stage.” 

MacLellan said they’re often cornered in the lobby by children and parents, asking when registration starts for the next show so they don’t miss out. 

“It’s validating,” she said. “It means the show has been enjoyed and the performers have motivated their peers.” 

It’s a testament to the time spent on every detail — from the set to props to costume design, every performance is colourful and engaging. And for Penhale, it’s hopefully just as inspiring to patrons. 

“Our goal has always been to offer quality education in the performing arts, while keeping tuition affordable for island families,” said Penhale. “The year-end show is the school’s main fundraiser and community involvement is essential in helping achieve these goals.” 

StageCoach is hopeful a full house at The Enchanted Bookshop will show once again that the community values the non-profit’s mission — nurturing Salt Spring children through local instructors, supported by a dedicated board of directors and numerous vital volunteers — and maybe inspire another generation of “theatre kids” on the island. 

“Show up for your family,” said MacLellan. “For your friends, and for our island kids this weekend by coming to the play — or buying tickets for someone who would enjoy it. We look forward to entertaining you!”   

The Enchanted Bookshop takes the stage at 7 p.m. Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27, with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, April 28. 

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