The North Kildonan Community Players have made their mark in the neighbourhood over the last decade and a half.
As it prepares Annie, its 15th production, the local theatre group is planning to help give back to the community. Annie will run from Nov. 20 to 24 at the Université de Saint-Boniface theatre at 200 Avenue de la Cathedrale.
Laurie Fischer, who founded the group with wife Cathie after several years working with community theatre groups in Saskatoon, recalled the first production back in Winnipeg was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Since then, approximately 150 people have become involved with the company’s productions.
"Winnipeg had tremendous professional theatre," Fischer said, also acknowledging the city’s strong high school and amateur programs. "There was nothing in the middle in community theatre.
"Winnipeg has become a great centre for community theatre. It has grown over the last decade."
Over the course of memorable productions of classics like Fiddler on the Roof and Anne of Green Gables, Fischer noted the stable of actors includes several from the same family. Several productions have had three generations from a family, and Annie may see a fourth generation from a particular clan grace the stage.
Auditions for Annie are slated to be held from Aug. 25 to 27. Those looking for more information can contact Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 204-890-8999.
Hard work goes into each production, as members practise thrice weekly. The company strives for professionalism, and it often succeeds. Fischer noted six graduates have gone on to work in professional theatre.
"We consider ourselves a training ground," said Fischer, a North Kildonan resident. "We are a non-profit community theatre, but the presentation has to be professional.
"When people talk to us after a show and say ‘Oh, it was so professional’, that’s what we love to hear."
Fischer describes community theatre productions as an iceberg, where the audience only gets to see a small portion of the work that actually goes on.
"Multi-tasking is key for anyone who wants to be involved in community theatre. You are never doing just one thing at any time," he said. "Whether it’s backstage or onstage, you’re involved with properties and costumes and ticket sales."
Stage manager Dennis Marand said he’s learned skills ranging from lighting and sound design to reading music in his 15 years with the company.
"It’s a huge learning opportunity for me," the North Kildonan resident said. "The role of a stage manager sounds fairly simple, or simplistic, in running the show, but it takes countless hours of planning.
"When the actors are going through hours and hours of rehearsing, the stage manager is going through hours and hours of planning."
Leading up to this year’s production, organizers are planning a cut-a-thon at Hair Network at McIvor Mall on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in support of CancerCare Manitoba. The day will include shaving Daddy Warbucks’ head at noon.
As well, the production will host a preview night of the show to support CancerCare, and Variety Manitoba children and their families will be invited to attend the show. As well, there are plans to support the Canadian Diabetes Association on opening night.