Naomi Zara and Mitchell Marcus
Many young people dream of performing on a professional stage in a musical, but how many of them actually have the chance to do so?
Our two companies, The Stage Door Academy (Naomi Zara, Artistic Director) and Acting Up Stage Company (Mitchell Marcus, Artistic Director) have partnered together to give a group of Toronto students an incredibly unique and exciting opportunity.
Acting Up Stage Company is Toronto’s modern musical theatre company. Each year, the company produces fantastic musical theatre productions, with casts of fully-professional, Canadian performers. The productions have been awarded with 6 Dora Awards and 8 Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards and are always highly acclaimed. When it came time to decide on this year’s programming, Mitchell chose Once On This Island – an award-winning musical that was on Broadway in the early 1990s. With a fantastic score, a beautiful story and high-energy dancing, Once On This Island is a Caribbean retelling of the classic fairy tale, “The Little Mermaid”.
At the same time, The Stage Door Academy – a theatre school for children and teens at Yonge & Eglinton – decided to put on a full musical for the first time in their history. And what show did Naomi choose? Once On This Island.
As we are good friends, it felt too serendipitous to not find a way to link the two experiences. After brainstorming, we came up with a unique idea that is unlike any other theatre school opportunity in Toronto. The Stage Door production would “shadow” the professional Acting Up Stage production, giving the students involved the chance to work on a professional stage, and see how their experience in a youth production is mirrored by a group of professional adult artists.
Some of the performers from the Acting Up Stage Once On This Island have attended the Stage Door rehearsals to coach the young people. The Stage Door students will have a chance to attend an Acting Up Stage rehearsal to meet their adult/professional counter-part. All of the Stage Door participants will have the chance to attend the Acting Up Stage Once On This Island free of charge. And, most excitingly, the Stage Door performance will take place on the Acting Up Stage Company set, using props and lighting from the professional version.
How is it going so far? Just ask the young people involved!
“I feel this is a very awesome learning experience and I love being here,” says Alex V., Age 14. (Guard/Storyteller). Claire P., age 13 (Storyteller) says: “At my North Toronto school they are more enthusiastic about sports, which I am not passionate about. But then I found this Musical Theatre program at Stage Door and now I look forward to rehearsals each Sunday!”
The partnership has been such a unique opportunity that we are planning on partnering together again for yet another show next season. We can’t reveal what the production will be just yet, but we promise it will be a terrific experience for all involved!
The Acting Up Stage Company production of Once On This Island runs from January 21-February 9 at the Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East). Tickets are $30-50 and can be purchased at actingupstage.com or 1-800-838-3006.
The Stage Door Academy one-night-only performance of Once On This Island takes place on February 10 at the Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East). Tickets are $21-25 and can be purchased at by visiting the thestagedooracademy.com.
For more information on this unique partnership, or to sign up for an audition for next year’s program (auditions take place in March 2014) contact Naomi Zara at (416) 803-5723 or visit thestagedooracademy.com