Founding the new Cast and Crew Theatre Arts Acacemy in Maple Ridge

A new non-profit group forming in Maple Ridge this September hopes to give children opportunities to explore theatre arts.

A new non-profit group forming in Maple Ridge this September hopes to give children opportunities to explore theatre arts.

“We have grown from a desire to provide children and teens in the Lower Mainland an opportunity to engage in theatre and the fine arts,” said founder Madelaine Beckett.

She said the decision to start Cast and Crew Theatre Arts Acacemy was prompted in part by the fact that 46 per cent of the respondents to a school board survey asked for the development of a fine arts academy.

The group was formed this summer, by program coordinators Heather Beckett and Shelley Boe, who are longtime theatre moms. They bring their combined experiences of costuming, set dressing and theatre administration, having worked on a total of over 30 theatrical productions with local community groups, including Xtreme Theatre, Emerald Pig, SPECCtacular Productions, Theatre in the Country, and Maple Ridge Christian School drama department.

Their belief in the value of enabling youth to confidently step into any role in theatre production has influenced how classes are structured. All students are given time working in each area of theatre, on stage and behind the scenes.

Through the year, students will receive training in vocal, dance and acting as they prepare a full musical production while developing general techniques to build strong foundational skills, said Beckett.

Experienced teachers will also lead students in discovering the production side of theatre. Students will have opportunity to learn about and help to create costumes, props, sets, apply hair and makeup, and perform technical jobs such as sound and lights.

With Cast and Crew, students will be challenged to produce theatre pieces from start to finish, said Beckett.

Riley Dougan, an alumni of Xtreme Theatre and student at Dance Barn Studios, is excited to join the Cast and Crew Theatre Arts Academy team as its  first instructor.

Cast and Crew Theatre Arts Academy is located at North Fraser Centre, a re-purposed elementary school in Whonnock. The group offers multiple rehearsal rooms, auditorium seating for up to 130 patrons, traditional Shakespearean thrust stage design, combined lunch and quiet study area with tables and chairs that parents and siblings can use while classes are in session, and free parking.

• For information and to register, visit the


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