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Walterdale Theatre celebrates 60 years with From Cradle to Stage

Anything but amateur
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1505 Walterdale
The cast of From Cradle to Stage take a bow celebrating Walterdale Theatre's 60th anniversary. From Cradle to Stage runs until Saturday, May 18. SCOTT HENDERSON/Photo

REVIEW

From Cradle to Stage

Runs until Saturday, May 18

Walterdale Theatre

10322 – 83 Ave.

Tickets: $18 to $20. Call 780-420-1757 or at www.tixonthesquare.ca

Anne Marie Szucs. Veronica Masik. Josh Languedoc. David Johnston. Louise Casemore. Sarah Ormandy. Edward Medeiros. Catherine Wenschlag. Andrew Boyd. Matt Boisvert. Christina O’Dell. Cory Christenson. Barbara North. Lucy Haines. Jim Herchak.

Recognize the names? Every St. Albert linked artist listed above is a passionate advocate of the arts and they are all connected to Walterdale Theatre.

These stalwarts have volunteered their time, talents and resources to performance projects at the community theatre now celebrating an unprecedented 60-year anniversary.

Monday night the theatre opened with From Cradle to Stage, a 45-minute celebratory production. It combines 10 members’ personal stories woven into a play-within-a play-within-a-play.

Sound confusing? It was. The script structure was convoluted and there were many in-jokes and references to members that a visiting first-timer wouldn’t get.

But there were also very funny characterizations that depict how the company works. Walterdale is unquestionably the most generous company in the region. It accepts anyone, experienced or not, willing to learn a craft.

The play opens with a tech rehearsal in progress. There is no set. Only a bare bones stage with the theatre’s red brick walls, wiring, light switches and fire extinguisher visible to the audience. There's no theatre magic. Only sweat equity is present.

The double-wide doors to the shop are open with stacks of wood, tools and accessories in full view. The stage is skeletal, a hint that what we call theatre magic is only achieved through the contribution of many.

Paul Kane High graduate and former actor with St. Albert Theatre Troupe Katie Elliott plays Margaret, the director. She scribbles notes on a pad and gives directions to cast and crew, and generally shepherds the group.

One of the play's funniest scenes is when Margaret asks an actor to interpret the role differently. Without batting an eyelid, the actor jumps into over-the-top mode that brought cackles from every part of the audience.

Once Margaret calls various actors on stage to rehearse their vignette, a common theme emerges: gratitude for acceptance into a community of artists that in many cases become friends.

Actor Megan Strong playing Sasha playing Alexandria recalls the hurt from professional companies' rejections whereas Walterdale offered “a beacon of hope.”

The member who submitted the story still has an email from a professional that read, “If you haven’t worked with us yet, you probably never will.”

Current St. Albert Dinner Theatre actor Anne-Marie Smyth takes on the role of Prudence Olenik, an actress who tread the boards for about 20 years in Jitters, Hamlet, Wyrd Sisters, Dracula and Butterflies Are Free.

Smyth gives Olenik a cosmopolitan vibe, that of a woman eager to look for fresh opportunities and take risks in a light-hearted manner.

From Cradle to Stage is full of genuine moments filled with a mix of hilarity, sadness, depression and lots of hope.

While strolling through the lobby, check out the elaborate costumes from past shows.




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Anna Borowiecki

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