A sure sign of spring in Maple Ridge is the return of the blossoming Xtreme Theatre actors at the ACT.
This year, Xtreme starts the season off with it’s junior members performing My Son Pinocchio Jr. The show begins Wednesday, April 15 at 7 p.m. and continues until Saturday, April 18.
Xtreme has been entertaining its audiences locally for the past 15 years with an array of award-winning choreography, sets, costumes, singing and acting.
The company is comprised of home learners from Maple Ridge to North Vancouver, meeting once a week over the course of eight months, preparing for their yearly productions.
My Son Pinocchio Jr. is the classic Disney tale of toy maker Geppetto’s little wooden puppet given new life that retells the story from the craftsman’s perspective.
This year’s show features the beloved classic songs When You Wish Upon a Star and I’ve Got No Strings. The show takes on the issues about what it means to be the perfect child, a real father, and the meaning of family.
It’s a theme that falls in line with Xtreme Theatre, said director Matt Pothecary.
“There’s a lot of engagement between the kids and the parents to bring out the best in our shows,” said Pothecary, a former student now in his fourth year directing with Xtreme. “You really need that to get a quality show. When everyone pulls together you can really create something special.”
He said by taking its time starting in September, the theatre company can give the students the time to not just learn their lines and find their marks on stage, but understand their characters in a more meaningful way.
“You have these cartoonish characters that can take the kids a lot of time to get used,” he said. “It’s not always easy for them letting go when you’re dealing with these really-out-there kind of characters.
He said one of Xtreme’s great attributes is having a rehearsal space that’s really open to experimentation, free of criticism when students try a new approach. Pothecary said by taking their time to help the students understand their character’s motivations, they can gain the confidence and let go.
While the student’s take centre stage, he said no production like this is possible without the help of the volunteers and parents who donate their time and energy to creating costumes, props, and sets on a professional level. He said the combination makes for a special production every year.
“That’s the joy of theatre,” said Pothecary. “You get to work as a team with people you may not otherwise have the chance to meet. But by working together on something like this it can help people come out of their shells.”
This year’s Xtreme production will also feature a bonus pre-show from the group’s youngest performers, who will sing a number of medley’s and dance numbers before Pinocchio Jr.
• For more information, visit theactmapleridge.com or call 604-476-2787.