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MBCI theatre provides true taste of Broadway

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Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (MBCI) students get a taste of the big-time every time they get to take the stage.

Performers ply their trade in the nearly-650-seat Jubilee Hall every two years. The Sound of Music was the latest classic to be performed by the school, which they put on from April 24 to 27.

Producers said the bulk of tickets for the show were gone by early March, and the Saturday night performance was sold out completely.

In addition to the high seating capacity, the hall has its own orchestra pit with over 20 students, two alumni, and a teacher backing up the singers.

Conductor and producer Tim Taves said opening night of this year’s performance was a special one, as the audience rose to give performers a standing ovation as they launched into closing number Climb Every Mountain.

"I could just sense that there was something going on, and they started clapping and were on their feet as we were singing the song," said Taves.

"It was so cool," added Grade 11 student Andrea Dicks, who played the role of The Mother Abbess in her third role in a school production.

Dicks said the ovation wasn’t a distraction for her, though, as she has performed at Jubilee Place numerous times.

MBCI has students from Grades 6 to 12, and pupils from all grades participate in the play as actors, musicians, as part of the stage crew or on hair and makeup teams.

 "You’ve got 100 students either on the stage, in the pit, or backstage," said Taves, noting that equates to about one-fifth of the student population. "We’ve got dozens of parents. We’ve got at least a dozen staff members, and they’re all volunteering their time."
The production is attended by more than just proud friends and family members of the cast.

"There are lots of alumni that come back. There are lots of friends and relatives of people connected to the school, and there are also just some interested people that show up that know that it’s a good production," said Taves.

As well, opening night saw 80 seniors from Fort Garry Place, Parkside Plaza, and Riverside Plaza enjoy the show, with Beaver Bus Lines providing free bus service.

Taves said there are already four students from the graduating class of 60 who plan to take performance-based majors in university, while Dicks said she hopes to attend music school upon her own graduation.

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