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Youth bring Velveteen Rabbit to life

The Velveteen Rabbit on June 15
Masha Scheele Photo

Masha Scheele

Four little wild rabbits stood on the stage, one with his hands in his pockets and another with her arms crossed during a rehearsal for the upcoming performances of The Velveteen Rabbit.

Break-A-Leg Theatre director Don Engerdahl walked up and said, “Okay now, have you ever seen a bunny? A rabbit?”

“Yea,” they said in unison.

“So, do bunnies cross their arms, and do bunnies have pockets?” asked Engerdahl.

Engerdahl explained that the young actors remembered to get into character quickly and have worked hard to perfect their rabbit act.

“The kids are usually pretty good, they usually get their lines done a lot easier than most adults, they’re like little sponges. You just give them a script and they’ll have it down before anyone else will,” said Engerdahl.

The cast is made up of 11 youth aged nine to 15 years old and one adult who plays the 30-year-old version of the boy telling the story about the Velveteen Rabbit.

Engerdahl received a lot of response to his audition call for BAL’s seventh all-ages production.

Engerdahl added that school-aged children are welcome to try out for main stage productions as long as they’ve taken the required drama courses with BAL Theatre Arts Society.

Actors in the BAL production of the Velveteen Rabbit
Masha Scheele photo

The biggest difficulty that Engerdahl faced this season was deciding which adaptation of the Velveteen Rabbit to choose.

“We found a good adaptation that’s very true to the original story, just presented in a different method. It’s more of a memory play versus an actual account of the story itself,” explained Engerdahl.

The adaptation of the play by James Still, originally written by Margery Williams, was chosen.

“It’s very poignant, there’s a little bit of sadness, there might be some tears but there will also be some laughs and it’s just a really well rounded adaptation of Margery Williams’ classic so we’re really excited to bring it to the stage,” he added.

The story about unconditional love is told through the eyes of a six-year-old boy by himself in his 30’s.

“It’s kind of an odd concept for school aged children to understand. But for the most part it has been pretty good,” said Engerdahl.

Actors in the BAL production of the Velveteen Rabbit
Masha Scheele photo

The Velveteen Rabbit cast began rehearsing near the end of February on the performing arts theatre stage, allowing for an easy transition into performance nights.

“I think they did really well, people are going to be impressed with the local talent out there with these kids. It’s just providing them the right direction and it’s amazing what these kids bring to the table.”

Junior and senior acting classes offered by BAL give kids the skills and camaraderie of working with other actors. 

“It gives them the opportunity to transition out into the community theatre realm,” said Engerdahl. 

Engerdahl added that he likes to stay within the grade four and five school curriculum with his productions, looking at the books they’ve read or what they are studying in order to build on their knowledge.

The Velveteen Rabbit plays at the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH) – West Fraser Guild on June 13, 14, and 15. Doors open half an hour before the show starts at 7:30 pm each night. 

Tickets for adults, youth or seniors are available at the Hinton Municipal Library and The Hinton Voice, or go online to Box Office on