You have to wonder what Mr. Schue, leader of McKinley High’s Glee Club on the fictional show Glee, would have done if he lost his star pupil right before regionals.
Therese Parent, who runs an actual glee club at the Vernon Community Music School, had to deal with just that situation when mid-way through rehearsals for her group’s upcoming performance, principal dancer Allison Inkpen broke her leg while out hiking with her husband.
Yes, they could have been broken hearted, blue since the day they started, but the VCMS’ Glee Club didn’t let that one little set-back stop them from putting on their performance in homage to Mamma Mia.
Now only days away from opening night at Vernon’s Powerhouse Theatre, the show choir is ready to showcase –– in dance and song –– all those ABBA songs that inspired the well-loved musical and subsequent film adaptation.
“As we all know, the show must go on and our choreographer, Melea Ward, simply started working with Nadiene Rudersdorfer, who had to literally step in at the last minute,” said Parent, who with local actress/singer Julie Armitage began the VCMS Glee Club at the start of the school year.
Now meeting twice a week for rehearsals since September, the group features a wide range of singers, from accountants to grandmothers to students.
“When we started this glee club, we opened it up to people ages 16 years and over with no idea as to who would come out for auditions, but they certainly did come out and we were amazed at the talent,” said Parent. “Some have never been on a stage before, while several are seasoned actors, singers and dancers.
“We have watched many of these people grow into performers right before our eyes. It is inspirational to watch them taking risks they never dreamed they would.”
The club’s inaugural performance will be extra special for two of its members (a mother and daughter), who have family coming from Regina, Sask. to see them sing and dance on stage for the first time, added Parent.
“The group is very supportive of one another. They have become a glee family and the audience will be able to feel the joy they have performing together. People can’t help but feel good after watching this show.”
The singers will be backed up by well-known local musicians including Jackson Mace, Rod Neufeld, Mike Parent, BettyAnne Northup and Elishiva Phillips, who have been practicing to bring the familiar melodies of ABBA to life.
“Our chorus of singers have worked so hard on the intricate and beautiful harmonies we know and love,” said Parent. “As well, we have taken the opportunity of showcasing as many of the singers individually as we could.”
Adding to the mystique that is Mamma Mia is Dave Brotsky, who will light up the stage, and Randy Jones, who is handling the huge job of providing sound for a band and 23 singers all at once.
“It is with great pride that we have brought the glee club to perform at the Powerhouse Theatre. Bringing together the Vernon Community Music School and the theatre is a wonderful experience,” said Parent. “We appreciate having the support of the Powerhouse Theatre as well as the sponsorship and support of several other local businesses and individuals who have contributed to making this a true community collaboration.”
Fun for the whole family, the show is also a fundraiser for Sound Foundation Capital Campaign in its efforts to raise $300,000 for a new foundation and repairs to the historical Smith House, which houses the Vernon Community Music School up on Vernon’s East Hill.
“Our vision was to give people of every age the opportunity to learn and grow as singers and performers while giving back to the community by raising funds from our shows,” said Parent.
The VCMS Glee Club’s presentation of Mamma Mia runs this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., at Powerhouse Theatre on 35th Avenue across from the Vernon Fire Station. Tickets are available at Ticket Seller box office in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre (549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca) and at the door.