Brand new passport in hand, Indiana native Eric Doades has never crossed the border before, let alone in a truck filled with props, costumes, and lots of laundry detergent.
At least custom officials were kind when he and fellow American Dana Vincent entered Canada from Washington State last weekend.
Here to conduct a performing arts camp put on by the Montana-based Missoula Children’s Theatre, Vernon is the only Canadian stop for the two actor/directors who have been crisscrossing the Pacific Northwest to help children learn all the inner-workings of the theatre.
About to stage Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Performing Arts Centre Saturday, their work is cut out for them since Doades and Vincent just met their cast of kids –– 58 children ages five to 16 –– Monday.
“The day of auditions is usually pretty quiet,” said Vincent. “They usually want to know what makeup and costumes they will be wearing.”
By Wednesday, the Missoula leaders were already running through the songs and lines with the kids.
“We have all of Thursday, Friday and half of Saturday to get the show ready,” said Vincent. “Somehow it all comes together.”
“It’s like a puzzle getting all the pieces to fit. We haven’t had to stop at all, we just keep going,” added Doades. “I think if we tried this with a group of adults, they would all be lost.”
The two thespians have had a lot of practise working in the theatre, and now they are improving their skills while working with children.
“It’s exciting to see the kids, experience a new culture and visit new places,” said Vincent, who is a native of San Diego, Calif. and received her theatre degree at Boston’s Emerson College.
“It’s a really good mix of theatre and education,” added Doades who is originally from Washington, Ind. and studied music education at Western Kentucky University and theatre at Oklahoma City University. “It involves everything I like about teaching, without everything I don’t like, especially all the paperwork.”
The camp involves a lot of show and tell, role playing and games to get the children comfortable in their roles. And the directors have found their own formula when dealing with fresh, eager faces every time they set up in a new town.
Doades tends to work with the older kids, while Vincent takes the younger ones under her wing.
“I love kids and love to work with kids,” said Vincent. “I was introduced to theatre when I was five. It’s always been a huge part of my life and I love to share what I’ve learned plus instill the values of the performing arts. It’s fun and projects confidence. We get the kids to work as a group.”
All that hard work ends up on the stage, and this year’s staging of Snow White will see the kids playing everything from the evil queen, to a talking mirror to those short little dudes singing, “Hi-ho.”
But don’t expect the Disney version of the story. For example, the seven dwarfs have different names than the ones the kids are accustomed to; something that is often brought up by the young actors, laughs Vincent, who will play the woodsman in the show.
“We do take some liberties,” she said. “And the kids usually pick up on it.”
No matter, the buzz is still palpable with the young cast anticipating the day they can finally put on their respective costumes and douse their faces in makeup. It all happens Saturday morning before the show goes on.
“Everything stays at the theatre; all the props and costumes need to be kept safe until we get to the next town, where we usually have loads of laundry to do,” said Vincent.
“There’s always something new.”
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs takes the stage at the Performing Arts Centre Saturday for two performances starting at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Tickets for the public are $12 each, and are available at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 549-SHOW (7469) or visit www.ticketseller.ca.