Velveteen Rabbit serves as farewell for young actor

Masha Scheele Photo
Paige Taylor in the Velveteen Rabbit

Masha Scheele

Paige Taylor was a quiet, shy girl when she first arrived at her audition for the part of Anne in Anne of Green Gables in 2017.

Break-A-Leg (BAL) Theatre director Don Engerdahl immediately knew that he found his Anne when the audition started.

It was even more evident when she came out in full costume, taking over the part and immediately making it her own, added Engerdahl.

“A lot of the kids are like that when they put their costumes on. They just completely become that character, it’s sort of bizarre,” said Engerdahl.

Three years later and after nearly 10 plays and musicals between BAL and École Mountain View School, she stepped out onto the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH) stage as a toy fairy, complete with wings and glitter.

During the final show of the Velveteen Rabbit on June 15, Taylor’s character walked on stage to magically make the toy velveteen rabbit into a real rabbit.

“It’s a fun character, it’s very magical and mysterious and wise at the same time, it’s pretty cool,” she said prior to the play.

To Taylor, the most important lesson in the Velveteen Rabbit was about picking good friends, and being there for each other. 

“And looking out for people basically, so treat people the way you want to be treated and to pick who you want to be friends with and stay with them.”

Taylor said she never felt nervous to perform and was used to being on a stage long before her BAL theatre career in Hinton took off.

She started singing when she was just seven years old and with the help of her singing coach, Christina Oliver, she participated in local performances and the Yellowhead Regional Arts Festival, singing in front of adjudicators and the public.

“She’s very mature, very talented, and she’s motivated,” added Engerdahl. 

Now, at 13 years old, Taylor doesn’t find being on stage intimidating whatsoever.

“It’s fun being in front of an audience, doing what makes you happy and others. Being with all the amazing cast members and Don and Mel (Pattison) and everyone and working with everyone to create something amazing,” she said.

Masha Scheele Photo
Paige Taylor in the Velveteen Rabbit

She credits Engerdahl and BAL for her knowledge of theatre and is happy to have found great new friends through the program who enjoy the same things as her. Taylor stated that along with her love for arts and theatre she also wants to explore her interests in science.

After gracing the PATH stage throughout the last few years, Taylor and her family are moving to Edmonton.

Engerdahl stated that while they are saddened to see Taylor go, they loved working with her and hope she continues working on the skills she started building with BAL.

“I’m already registered for some productions with the Citadel Theatre and the Foote Theatre School in Edmonton,” she said.

“We’re looking at finding another singing teacher so I can get into more concerts and stuff like that again.”

Performing in front of an audience and bringing joy to others through her performances is something that makes Taylor happy, she said.

“There’s no words, just a rush of joy that goes through you, and it’s amazing,” she said about being on stage.

After the final performance on June 15, Engerdahl announced to the audience that it was Taylor’s final show with BAL, thanked her, and gave her a Velveteen Rabbit parting gift.

“I was completely and utterly touched and it was a very emotional time for us all. But I definitely enjoyed this play and working with Don for so many years,” she said afterwards.