R is for Revolution: junior drama at UCP

And the beat goes on…at Upper Canada Playhouse – The very first fall/winter Playhouse drama school class held its very first show for family members and friends on Sunday, February 11, on the Playhouse stage. R is for Revolution took the talented young cast back to the ‘good old days’, the 1960s, for their inspiration. Pictured after the performance, in costume, are back row, l-r, Keltey, Sydney, Ashley, Jack, Madeleine, Keidi and Joseph. In the front row are Corrine, Jamie and Jodie. (The Leader/Gibb photo)

MORRISBURG – “In the 60s phones only had one function. And you had to actually be indoors to use them!”

With amazed lines like that, the young actors (ages 8-14) in the fall/winter session of Upper Canada Playhouse’s student drama school welcomed the audience to their show, R is for Revolution, at the Playhouse, Sunday, February 11, 2018.

“We took a new and exciting journey into the past,” said drama teacher Mary Ellen Viau, “focussing on the fashions and the music of the 1960s.” Viau was assisted by Upper Canada Playhouse stage manager Jackie McCormick.

From the way the young cast handled their lines and actions in the play, it was apparent that they were finding the 60s a fun fit.

With a play based on the premise of grandparents (“They’re really old. I think they’re nearly 73!”) clearing out an attic full of memories, the students dug out pill box hats, mini skirts, fringed vests and go-go boots.

The music and lines just seemed to flow from there.

And the inevitable History Buff, who had a “little known fact” for every occasion, actually moved the stories and songs along.

As the young actors made clear in the narration that accompanied the show, the 60s really were a time of revolution. Old values were rejected and replaced. Protests against the Viet Nam War and for Women’s Rights and Civil Rights were every day events.

The cast expressed it best: “It was a time of Flower Power, love, youth and rock and roll.”

A strutting parade of pill box hats a la Jackie Kennedy and Bob Dylan and Grandma’s go-go boots made a splashy fashion statement.

Chubby Checker’s Do the Twist saw the young performers twisting “round and round and up and down” to classic tunes (“You didn’t even need a partner to dance!”)

A take off on Sonny and Cher’s And The Beat Goes On.. brought the house down.

A hungry search to uncover all the local burger joints occasioned one truly priceless line in the play: “You know, if you listen to my grandpa, there were more than enough joints back in the 60s.”

The show wound up with A Happening, or as the cast put it, “a new generation flash mob”. With one actor playing the music to Ode to Joy, the cast gradually added in unusual instruments and rhythms until the audience could also “feel the beat.”

The young actors had a lot of lines to learn in this production, and they had obviously worked hard at delivery and projection. They kept the pace of the play moving along.

Later, Donnie Bowes, artistic director of Upper Canada Playhouse, handed out certificates of accomplishment to all the performers.

“This was our first experiment with a winter drama camp,” he said. “There was so much going on in this program: I believe the kids learned a lot about everything that is involved in theatre. Special congratulations to teacher Mary Ellen who created a funny and informative script that emphasized the kids’ interests and talents.”

“This went very well,” Viau said. “The enthusiasm suggests that there may possibly be another winter session next year.”