A Maple Ridge actress will be taking on It’s A Wonderful Life in the Patrick Street Productions’ musical adaptation of the holiday classic.
Oakley Arksey, 10, will be playing the roles of Zuzu Bailey, the youngest daughter of George and Mary Bailey and she will also be playing the part of a young Mary in the production.
It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of an angel named Clarence who has been struggling for more than 200 years to get his wings when he is given the task of saving George Bailey’s life. Bailey, a small-town owner of the Bailey Building and Loan company, attempts to end his life on Christmas eve by throwing himself over a bridge. Clarence drags him out of the water and shows him what life would be like if he never existed. Only then does Bailey discover how wonderful life truly is.
Artistic producer Peter Jorgensen has included classic musical standards like Nice Work If You Can Get It by George and Ira Gershwin, One Life To Live by Kurt Weill, and Keep The Home Fires Burning by Ivor Novello. There will also be traditional holiday carols like It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, Carol of the Bells and Angels We Have Heard On High.
Oakley started her acting career when she was 8-years-old with roles in productions put on by her dance school, Pulse Dance Centre in Port Coquitlam, where she takes jazz, lyrical, ballet, tap, contemporary and acro.
The first role the Kanaka Creek elementary student took on was a small supporting role in Seussical the Musical. Then she received the role of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.
When she was 9 she landed the role of Lord Farquaad in the dance school’s production of Shrek.
Oakley started doing commercials, landing a role in a Macey’s back-to-school that aired in August and September last year.
This will be the first live acting performance for the young actress, which, she says, has been very challenging.
“If you are not live then you can fix your mistakes and do it again. If you’re live you can’t fix them. You just have to keep on going and that mistake will just stay there. You can’t redo it,” said Oakley.
Oakley has been rehearsing since the beginning of December with the cast of the production and says she has learned a lot working side-by-side with acting veterans.
For one thing she has learned to act more realistically instead of over-the-top. She has also learned how to switch from being happy to sad, an emotion, that she says, is difficult to pull off.
“”I like to smile because I’m having fun but then I have to get into sadness but it’s hard,” said Oakley, who has discovered that if she is focused on what someone is saying to her, she does achieve a sad facial expression.
Oakley says she does not have too many lines to remember, but she does have one of the most famous in Christmas movie history:
“Look, Daddy. Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
The Patrick Street Productions presentation of the new classic musical It’s A Wonderful Life runs Dec. 19 to Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. at the Anvil Centre Theatre, 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster.
There are also 2 p.m. matinees Dec. 22, 26, 28. 29 and Jan. 2, 4 and 5.
Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased at patrickstreetproductions.com or by calling 604-684-2787.