As another school year comes to an end, the cast and crew of Briercrest’s Summer Stage is well underway for its second season.
With just a few weeks of preparation, Briercrest students and community members rehearse, perfect and give multiple performances of two musical productions. This year’s productions are The Sound of Music and HMS Pinafore.
Juggling two major musical productions like this might seem too overwhelming for most people, but to Ron de Jager, Briercrest’s associate professor of music and voice, it makes perfect sense.
“I can’t just do one (production) because I need an opportunity for more students,” he explained. “The Sound of Music has a lot of women’s parts and HMS Pinafore has a lot of men’s parts.”
The musical director can easily explain why he chose The Sound of Music for one of the productions.
“If anyone knows a musical, that’s the one they know,” he insisted. “Audiences really enjoy seeing that musical and it connects with something from earlier times. It always brings back some fond memories.”
De Jager is just as confident that audiences will enjoy HMS Pinafore.
“It’s a wonderful comedic operetta,” he said. “The language is very clever – it’s in the old English so you have to pay attention pretty closely. It is classic Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s an operetta, so there are more singing opportunities in it.”
Among the cast of 40 performers, there is one whom de Jager is especially excited to work with in The Sound of Music.
“This will be the first time that I’ll play opposite my daughter on stage,” he explained. “She’s playing Gretl and I’ll play the captain. I’ve played the role of the captain before, but I was younger and didn’t have children so I think I’ll be able to do it stronger this time. It’s much more emotional when it’s your own child that you pick up and carry off at the end.”
Performances of both shows will be held in The Landing in Caronport. De Jager feels the venue adds a special touch to both productions.
De Jager goes on to explain how the acoustics in The Landing enhance the opening scene of The Sound of Music.
“You hear 28 nuns start to sing at the very start and it just echoes all over the place. It’s so powerful. Then to end that first act with Climb Every Mountain with the Mother Abbess – you just can’t lose.”
“It’s a wonderful evening out with the whole family,” de Jager continued. “There are some very talented people here. It’s going to make Summer Stage known.”
The finishing touches were being made earlier this week on The Sound of Music as the cast prepared for the opening performances this weekend (May 9-10). Additional performances of The Sound of Music will be given on May 15- 17, 22-24 and June 13-14. HMS Pinafore will be performed on May 30, 31, and June 5-7.
Because of limited seating, de Jager encourages getting tickets ahead of time by calling Briercrest ticket sales at 1-888-462-2202.