A group of children sat listening attentively as Drew Kemp explained the stage blocking for the upcoming production of The Lion King.
It’s all in preparing for the second production of the Amber Academy.
Kemp, the show’s director, is confident that his cast of about 40 diminutive actors will be up to the challenge of some pretty big roles when the show opens May 10.
The Amber Academy Youth Fine Arts Society is a non-profit organization established as a vehicle to empower youth through the arts.
“We offer classes in choir, acting, costume design, technical sound, lighting, visual and stage arts,” said Keli Dunn, the executive director of the academy.
“The program is open to all kids in the community. We put up no barriers to anyone who can’t afford the program. Kids attend and they choose the part of the program that interests them most and some, many really, will take part in a whole range of visual and performing arts classes.”
It’s the second year for the Amber Academy and the shows just keep getting better, Dunn said.
Last year the academy brought Fraggle Rock to the community and received rave reviews for its inaugural effort.
“We have a great team to help with every aspect of the program. Without them, we just couldn’t make this happen,” Dunn said.
“We really believe in the value of what we’re doing, and it shows when those kids take the stage.”
Kemp said forging a production out of a group of young people with limited or no experience on the stage is a challenge but one which the children are responding well.
“We had auditions just after Christmas and been working on the production ever since. For the past six or seven weeks, though, we’ve really been going at it, making sure that we have it all down perfectly,” he said.
“We started up in September and in the fall we put on a dinner show and dance where the kids get to show off their talent,” Dunn said.
One of the highlights of the fall show is a fashion show where the children start with a piece of vintage clothing and modify it to the Sooke equivalent of haute couture.
The stage presentation, however, is the true test of all aspects of the academy’s work. It involves acting, of course, but also calls upon musical talent, set design, lighting, visual arts, and costuming.
Besides the cast of 40, about another 20 children are involved in the backstage responsibilities that make the show happen.
“This is an opportunity for these children to showcase their imagination and talent in a way that you just can’t do in very many other ways,” Dunn said.
The show will be presented on May 10 and 11 at the Sooke Community Hall.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children and seniors and are available at amberacademy.ca/events.