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Fifteen Fights Bullying 

Fifteen fights bullying

Spencer middle school students shine spotlight on bullying with weekend musical

  • Mar. 5, 2013 6:00 a.m.

Angelina Robertson, front left, and Wesley St. Paul-Mansory are bullied by Katharine Lazar, back left, Ana Mendez and Sara Kuchma. Spencer middle school students will perform the musical Fifteen at Isabelle Reader Theatre March 8 and 9.

Spencer middle school students will shine the spotlight on bullying.

Fifteen was written, directed and choreographed by Spencer teacher Cynthia Berenyi. This is the third play she has written for the students.

“I can build the characters for the students and add more lines and more songs so everyone can be a part of it,” said the teacher.

The musical is about a bullied boy named Jake, played by Grade 9 student Wesley St. Paul-Mansoroy and his best friend Gloria played by Grade 7 student Angelina Robertson.

Jake and his friend set off in a time machine to find his long lost father for help in dealing with bullies.

In the play Jake is bullied by three girls.

“In stories boys always bully boys and girls bully girls. It does happen this way too, I have seen it in the school,” said Berenyi. “I don’t think bullies mean to be bullies, it’s just how they are coping with things in their lives.”

The three protagonists get caught in time machine with Jake and Gloria and travel back through time.

Sara Kuchma, 14, plays one of the bullies in Fifteen and the script is something that hits close to home.

“I have experienced bullying. I was in Grade 4 and I wasn’t very confident in myself,” said the Grade 9 student. “It makes you feel tiny and alone. I want people to see this play and to be nice to people.”

The performance is two hours and includes 14 musical numbers. About 75 students are involved as actors, dancers and behind the scenes.

Public performances are March 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. in Isabelle Reader Theatre, 1026 Goldstream Ave. Tickets are $12. For more information call 250-474-1291.



The Show Must Go On

Audience peeks backstage with new Spencer production

Langford middle school brings teacher-penned story to the stage

Get ready for some acting, singing and dancing teens to dazzle audiences with a fresh new script written just for them.

Spencer middle school students are on centre stage showing you behind the scenes in The Show Must Go On.

“In the show the audience will watch the audition process, people having personal issues, sound and lights and the actual production. It’s like a show within a show,” said Cynthia Berenyi, Spencer teacher and show’s writer, choreographer and director.

“People don’t know what it’s like behind the scenes. You can learn a lot about that in the show,” said Grade 9 student Cole Jackson, acting in his second musical theatre production.

When it comes to Spencer theatre performances, Berenyi puts pen to the paper and writes all the scripts herself.

“When I write it, I feel like I can incorporate everyone and give them all more parts,” she said. “We have a lot of different characters in here.”

The songs in the show are covers from the modern-day pop charts, including “Applause” by Lady Gaga, “Say Something” by A Great Big World and “Monster” by Rihanna.

Aside from telling the story of a theatre production being brought to life, there are several mini stories written into the script that spotlight such  things as energy drink addiction and eating disorders of the “cast” members.

There are 60 students involved in the production.

“There’s lots of dancing and singing and shiny costumes,” Berenyi said. “It’s really funny and we have some funny characters.”

The Show Must Go On plays March 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. at Isabelle Reader Theatre in Spencer middle school, 1026 Goldstream Ave. Tickets are $10. For more information or to purchase tickets call 250-474-1291.

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They All Lived Happily Ever After

Fourteen-year-old Akasha Zunker plays Snow White in the Spencer middle school musical They all Lived Happily Ever After playing this Friday and Saturday night at the Isabelle Reader Theatre.

Langford middle school’s musical features real-life endings

Spencer students bring fairy-tale, Disney characters to life on stage

What happens to the princess after the end credits roll?

Spencer middle school’s upcoming musical, They All Lived Happily Ever After, examines those questions, mining the lives of seven Disney princesses from Snow White to Cinderella and following their journeys after the final kiss. Real stories can be just as interesting as fairy tales, says 14-year-old musical theatre student Akasha Zunker, who is among 30 students to put new twists to old classics.

“All the fairy tales have these very happy endings, but it’s interesting to see what happens next, because in real life it doesn’t always happen that way,” said Zunker, who plays Snow White. “That’s what makes it interesting, we all have our little problems.”

Each princess played by a Spencer student experiences real-life challenges, including Belle, who must deal with the Beast’s controlling behaviour. Snow White works through a strained relationship with her husband from spending all her time with the Seven Dwarves, while Sleeping Beauty hesitates to sleep because she fears she may never awake.

Spencer drama and dance teacher Cynthia Berenyi, who write and directs the musical, presented each student actor with their character and asked what their problems might be.

“(For example,) Ariel got married at 16 and she misses her family. She is young and rethinking things and visits her family, but has to keep (the marriage) secret,” she said. “Because people would think it was weird to be talking to fish in the water.”

Other princesses Rapunzel, Red Riding Hood, Jasmine and Elsa, sing songs made famous by their respective movies. They’re joined by other animated characters, including Olaf the snowman from Frozen and not-so-popular characters, such as Cinderella’s evil stepsisters. All play a role in the thematic through line of the musical’s many story lines, Berenyi said. They’re both life lessons and artistic lessons for the musical theatre students in her class.

“Being a middle school teacher, one of the most important things to teach people is how life is really is … to make those things clear to them or introduce it to them so they would think on it a little more,” she said. “Also, if you are an adult, it is not just for kids – everyone can relate to the musical.”

The production, which features some elements Berenyi drew from real-life experiences, has been a formidable challenge for both her and the students. But she looks forward to the performances of the 30-student cast and crew that brings the story to life.

“I am really proud of people that have committed to being their characters; we have (such) a strong group,” Berenyi said. “You go through these moments, you are crying or someone is crying, but it all comes together and you feel proud of yourself and you forget those moments.”

They All Lived Happily Ever After plays Friday, June 5 at 7 p.m., at the Isabelle Reader Theatre on 1026 Goldstream Ave. inside the school. Tickets are available ahead of time at Spencer’s main office.


Double The Alice

Spencer middle school students Haley Hitchen and Alycia Macilroy are both playing the role of Alice in the school’s musical rendition of Alice in Wonderland.

Double the Alice in a new take on wonderland

Students at Spencer middle school are gearing up to lead an audience down the rabbit hole.

This week the students will perform their musical rendition of Alice in Wonderland.

Adding a new spin on the Lewis Carroll classic, Spencer teacher Cynthia Berenyi adapted the script to add more characters.

“I adapted it to have two different Alices,” Berenyi said.

During the play, Alice No. 1, played by Grade 9 student Alycia Macilroy, is the main character. When Macilroy finds herself in tough situation, the second Alice, Haley Hitchen, Grade 8, shows up as kind of a menacing conscience.

“I am kind of in her head, I put her down and make her feel bad. I am like the devil on her shoulder,” Hitchen said.

“I just think it’s really important people are aware of the negative talk we have within ourselves,” Berenyi said.

The story line doesn’t stray too far off the path, but Berenyi said Alice will come across new characters as well as old favourites, such as the Mad Hatter and Caterpillar.

When Berenyi was choosing a story for the play she opted for Alice in Wonderland due to plentiful characters, which would allow many students to participate.

She also thought it would be a good fit because the film Alice in Wonderland directed by Tim Burton was recently released so students would be familiar with the story, she said.

“There are some parts that are a bit dark, but (the musical) is for all ages,” Berenyi said.

Show times are April 29 at 7 p.m. and April 30 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Isabelle Reader Theatre, 1026 Goldstream Ave. Tickets, $12, can be purchased at the school office. The show runs about two hours. For more information call 250-474-1291.

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