WHAT IS DREAMCOAT FANTASY THEATRE?
Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre is a registered charitable organization dedicated to providing musical theatre experience for the children and families of the North Bay area. Our primary focus is “Theatre for Children by Children” and we accomplish this by producing up to four shows per year with children from ages 5 to 14 and one adult/family show.
WHO IS DREAMCOAT?
All children, parents, staff, and volunteers involved make Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre what it is. We rely heavily on volunteers to assist with fundraising, set building/painting, prop making, back stage duties, costuming/make-up, musical accompaniment, ushering, and dressing room supervision as well as fund-raising and organizing community events. Well over 3,500 volunteer hours go into our larger productions staged every year at The Capitol Centre, a 930 seat theatre in North Bay. Other productions have a smaller but equally as dedicated volunteer base. The support from community volunteers, parents, and grandparents is invaluable to the success of our theatre company. We would not exist without their selfless dedication. Volunteer cycles are generally five or six years as children move through the program, so of course we are always looking for fresh faces with fresh perspectives.
WHY DO WE DO WHAT WE DO.
Much of the satisfaction for our participants comes from the knowledge that family, friends, and classmates are watching and applauding. Many of them just love to sing and dance. The enjoyment that they get out of performing is evident in their smiles and their energy.
Long term benefits such as increased self-confidence or improved communication skills, may not be so obvious to the children but are regularly noticed by parents, family, teachers, and even Dreamcoat show staff. We are not only giving children the experience of theatre, we are providing a place for them to grow and develop skills that will help them to become confident in other areas of their lives.
We strive with each show to provide an environment where everyone involved can build new friendships, reach and exceed personal goals, and share in a unique and enriching experience with family and friends.
OUR HISTORY AND FUTURE GOALS.
In 1998, a very small group of educators and parents began a small children’s theatre company and named it Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre.
The first production, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was staged at West Ferris Secondary School in Nov 1998. This was followed in June 1999 by a large cast children’s show, The Hobbit, presented at the Capitol Centre.
In December 1999, Dreamcoat produced its first family show, Oliver, with parents and children performing on stage together at The Capitol Centre. We have produced many more musicals since then, both children and family shows, including the very successful Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat which played for sold out audiences in November 2001 and our children’s show Annie in January 2012, also a sold out show, which was the first time our large cast production was directed and choreographed by two graduates of our Dreamcoat children’s program.
In 2003 we launched a workshop program and in May 2005 we re-introduced the “small show” format with How To Eat Like A Child. The addition of workshops and smaller venue shows has allowed us to offer programs to many more children in the community. Staff is often made up of qualified drama and dance teachers, many of them teachers with local area school boards. These people have extensive training in stage, theatre, and filmmaking. Because our group numbers are smaller with these programs, more individualized attention can be given to each participant and there is more opportunity for each child to learn about dialogue, scripting, movement, dance, characterization, improving memory, and developing a sense of stage presence.
In July 2005 we launched our summer program with a small but exuberant cast of about 23 children and performed the show at a unique lakeside outdoor venue for the North Bay Heritage Festival.
This play was written by a local teacher, Bryan Elsey. It retold a fictional tale of a “never-really-happened” historical event in North Bay. Once again, we received a great response from the audience members and local media. In Aug 2006, we saw the sequel to this play entitled Mishe Nah’ ma – The Great Nipissing Sturgeon. This was also performed at the Heritage Festival but an improved stage location allowed it to be seen by an even larger audience. Finally, in the summer of 2007 we saw the third and final installment in the North Bay trilogy; Lavigne and The Magic Blueberry Tree. This play was performed at North Bay’s Summer in the Park and Downtown Heritage Days on the Civic holiday week-end.
In the fall of 2006, Dreamcoat returned to the family show format with a well received production of the Sound of Music. We continued the family show in the fall of 2007 with a successful presentation of The Wizard of Oz and in the fall of 2008 we were very proud to bring a spectacular presentation of The King and I. These last two productions allowed us to cast a relatively large group that included small children, teenagers, and adults. In the fall 2011 we presented a dazzling production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Dreamcoat plans to continue producing these large family cast shows.
We have also added a small Christmas musical to our program in response to the overwhelming number of children auditioning for our fall/winter children’s show. We now see over 200 children at these auditions. Due to space restrictions at the Capitol Centre and the logistics of managing such a large group of children, our maximum cast size for the children’s fall/winter show is 85 participants. Since many children have to be turned down, we are now able to cast 30 to 50 of these children in our Christmas musical. This small show was partnered with the Near North District School Board to provide a co-op opportunity for high school students who are involved in the Province of Ontario’s Specialist High Skills Major in Arts and Culture. Their work with Dreamcoat will earn them credits for their secondary school graduation diplomas and a special SHSM certificate.
In addition to these musicals, our featured Dreamcoat Children’s Choir has performed for North Bay’s annual Haleyfest at the Capitol Centre. This choir also competed in the North Bay Kiwanis Festival of Dance and Music and earned a first place award for their efforts. When Prime Minister Jean Cretien visited North Bay in July of 2003, the Dreamcoat children were on hand to welcome him with a song. In December of 2009, the 2010 Olympic Torch Run came through North Bay and the Dreamcoat Choir sang was part of the city’s celebration. The children of Dreamcoat have preformed for a number of community event over the years including the Cancer Society’s Relay For Life and “Let The Learning Begin”. The Dreamcoat Children’s Choir has also been honoured to be a part of recording albums, featured during the performance of travelling shows such as the Pink Floyd Tribute Brand (Fall of 2017). Most recently, the children have enjoyed signing the national anthem at our OHL North Bay Battalion games.
We are now performing five shows a year:
- Family – large cast maximum 85 participants – ages 7 to 107 cast in September and presented first week of December – auditions required
- Children’s Fall – large cast maximum 85 children – ages 8 to 14 (gr. 3-8) cast in September and presented in January – auditions required
- Children’s Christmas – One Act – small to medium cast maximum 30 children ages 7 to 14 (gr. 2-8) cast in October and presented second week of December
- Children’s Spring – medium cast maximum 45 children ages 7 to 14 (gr. 2-8) cast in February and presented in May
- Children’s Summer Workshops – two one-week workshops run daily the first two weeks in July for children 6 to 14 – skill building activities.
- Children’s Summer – small to medium cast maximum 30 children ages 7 to 14 (gr. 2-8) runs daily from Monday through Friday the last two weeks of July – show presented the second week-end.