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Junior actors cry fowl for Christmas

Leah Cournoyer (Shirley the Christmas Partridge) and other cast members from the Break-A-Leg Theatre junior drama program wrapped up with a production of the 12 Days of Christmas from Dec. 5 – 7 at The PATH.
Sarah Burns Photo

Masha Scheele

The lively, fast-paced performance of 12 Days of Christmas will get everyone in the mood for Christmas this weekend, according to director Don Engerdahl.

Fifteen kids have stepped up to take on a plethora of roles, some are even playing multiple characters in the children’s production.

Thirteen of the kids in the play are new to Break-A-Leg (BAL) Theatre, which made for an interesting 12 weeks of preparations.

“[They’re also] new to being on stage. It’s been a huge learning curve to figure out how to train them to memorize lines, how do you show them how to block a scene and rehearse a scene. It’s had hills, it’s had valleys all along the way. But at the end of the day it’s going to be a great show,” said Engerdahl.

After eight years of running the Junior Drama program at BAL, Engerdahl is always amazed at the progress kids made in the 10 to 12 weeks of rehearsals.

“They just march forward and are so focused and passionate about doing the show and the best show possible that it’s just… seeing the growth in each individual participant has been awe-inspiring,” he said.

He added that each of the kids has worked hard to memorize lines, learn the blocking, and developing their stage characters. 

Throughout their time in the program they’ve also met new friends who have similar interests and have become a part of the theatre community.

Engerdahl said it’s a big deal for the program to get 13 new kids that have never been involved in theatre before.

Almost all of the young performers are from Hinton, except for Emerson Gibbons from Jasper who committed to driving to Hinton every week for his rehearsal times.

“Emerson has been a real joy to work with, he’s very ambitious, very imaginative, he just loves performing. He’s had the opportunity to meet some new friends, and if there’s an opportunity for him to be on stage, he embraces that and just runs,” said Engerdahl.

The play, which was written by Renee Calarco, is based on the Christmas carol of 12 days of Christmas.

The plot follows Shirley the Partridge as she prepares to perform the traditional song with all its characters, all while guarding the five golden rings.

Things go awry as the turtle doves break their legs, the french hens are fighting because one of them is actually a rooster, the six geese have flown to Florida for the winter, there is only one swan and there is only one milkmaid.

“There is a lot of fowl in this show, there’s a lot of birds. Calling birds, French hens, turtle doves, partridges, geese, swans, you name it, they’re all there,” Engerdahl laughed.

Finally, the five golden rings are stolen by the Christmas hoarder who adds them to his growing holiday collection of Christmas ornaments, Hanukkah menorahs, Kwanzaa fruits, Diwali candles, and Thanksgiving dinners. 

Shirley then receives help to get them back in a mission to save their holiday tradition.

12 Days of Christmas will be on from Dec. 5 to 7 at 7:30 pm, doors open at 6:45 pm at the West Fraser Guild – Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH). Tickets are still available at the municipal library and at the door. A discounted price is also available for students and kids under six years old.