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Backstage after opening night
at UTC's Beauty And The Beast!

Daniel MacEachern and Andrea Nunez Tal Shulman and Marc Harwood
Clennie Fraser-Mangialardi
 and Courtney Wilson
Chris James and Tess Barao

Unionville Theatre Company
stages Beauty And The Beast

by Grant Weaver,

Beauty and the Beast cast and crew members

Front row: Robert Cline (stage manager), Barbara Kwolek (assistant director),
Carlene Flynn (producer), David Bertram (director), Doug Manning (musical director),
and the cast of Beauty And The Beast

(Feb. 16, 2008)             The Unionville Theatre Company’s production of Beauty And The Beast hits the stage this week (February 20-24) at Markham Theatre For Performing Arts, with six performances, including two matinees, that will feature the talent, enthusiasm and breathtaking scenery that have come to exemplify UTC’s annual extravaganzas.

             The Unionville Theatre Company is a community-based non-profit theatre company whose primary mission is to give youth in York Region the opportunity to perform in a large-scale theatrical production and, in doing so, to hone their skills and to develop self-confidence. 

            I visited the UTC’s rehearsal of February 14, held at Brother André Catholic High School on 16h Avenue and Markham Road. 

            Carlene Flynn is once again Producer, as she was for last year’s UTC production of The Music Man

            As she explained to us, the Unionville Theatre Company seeks to mentor young people, not just in their roles on stage, but also in all the work involved behind the scenes.  Teaching is an important part of what UTC is all about.

            David Bertram, who directed The Music Man, returns as director and vocal coach.  David has long experience in vocal teaching and performs with the Tapestry Chamber Choir. Doug Manning, well-known to our readers also as conductor of the Markham Concert Band, is Musical Director.  Choreographer is Yuri Vrazhkin.

            This year David Bertram has an assistant director in Barbra Kwolek whose participation in community theatre, including Unionville Theatre Company productions, goes back twelve years.

            We met stage manager Robert Cline and assistant stage manager Caela Kavanagh last year when they performed the same duties in The Music Man.  Cathy Edwards has the crucial responsibility for costumes and quick changes.

            The mix of actors, which always includes some adults as well, evolves from year to year but one of UTC’s strengths is in maintaining a continuity in its core production group.

            The team has brought together a very talented group of actors, several of whom, despite their youth, are already veterans of many theatrical productions. 

            Tess Barao wowed audiences last year, not only in The Music Man but also in Markham Youth Theatre’s Into The Woods, a production in which Riley Raymer and Andrew Di Rosa also starred.  Marc Harwood played Harold Hill, the lead role in The Music Man. 

            And this is just to name a few.  In fact, there were many familiar faces among this year’s cast.  One of the great delights of following young people in their theatre careers is also to be surprised at how much they have grown in one year!  My photos will show many of them a good deal taller than they were at my visit last year. 

             But it is the development of their talent and poise which is the most striking. 

            After director David Bertram had put the cast through a two and a half hour rehearsal of the second act, I had a chance to chat with him about the production.  I asked him why Beauty And The Beast was chosen for this year’s production.

            “The Unionville Theatre Company,” David explained, “chose Beauty And The Beast because they wanted a show that would bring in an audience, that would be friendly to all age levels.  The Disney cartoon that was released in the eighties was kid-centric but a lot of those kids who saw it are now young adults.  When Disney then chose to release Beauty And The Beast as a musical in the early ninety’s they added extra music to it and they turned it into a family show.  So it wasn’t just aimed at kids.  They added a lot of themes that were far more mature than the cartoon.  So it brought in parents, grandparents and kids.  The humour is across the board, it appeals to everybody without being offensive to any.  And it’s got great music, it’s got great dancing, it’s got great choreography.”

            And the set?

            “We’ve got a wonderful castle set that has all sorts of tricks built into it,” he told us.  “It has the potential for massive sound and lighting features and Markham Theatre is capable of pulling that off.  So, Beauty And The Beast was a good fit for the theatre company, for us, and for Markham Theatre.”

            The challenges of working with a cast that ranges in age from pre-teens to teens, to young adults, to not-so-young adults, are many. 

            “You have to cast well,” he said.  “You have a whole bunch of talent that you have to corral.”

            His job, he explained, is ultimately to develop “the road map” for the over 600 cues in the show so that all the many entrances, exits, and movements on stage go off “seamlessly”. 

            As it has been since 1999, the musical accompaniment will be under the direction of Doug Manning.  Doug has brought together, for the occasion, a 30-member orchestra made up of a core group from his Markham Concert Band, but supplemented this year by a number of string instruments, including a harp, and two keyboards. Many of the musicians in the string section are local students.  Thus, with full brass, woodwind, strings, and percussion, the music promises to be a big part of the excitement of the show.

            The audition call went out in September and, after three weeks of callbacks, a final cast of 45 was selected.  For all the major speaking and singing roles, there is a double cast which will perform on alternating shows. 

            Rehearsals have been held Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.  The weekday rehearsals eventually saw the cast put through their paces around the real set, which had been erected in an exhibition building at the Markham Fairgrounds.  On Sundays, they rehearsed with the orchestra at Crosby Arena in Unionville.  For this final week they are using a rotunda, with its large open space, at Brother André Catholic High School.

            As if the logistics of mounting such an ambitious production as Beauty And The Beast were not already daunting, this year’s severe winter also wrote itself a role to play, disrupting the rehearsal schedule a number of times and even forcing the cancellation of a Sunday rehearsal in December which was to have culminated in a Christmas party for the cast and crew.   

            The Unionville Theatre Company is very appreciative of a $500.00 corporate donation they received from CIBC in sponsorship of this year’s production.  Carlene is also very pleased with ticket sales which are very brisk and she is confident they will sell out for most, if not all, the shows. 

            Carlene is particularly proud of the castle set which they arranged to purchase last summer from Curtain Call Players. 

            With opening night fast approaching, excitement is building and spirits are high. enjoyed being witness, for the second year in a row, to what has become a UTC tradition.  After the cast had performed the grand finale, Valentine’s Day was fittingly observed.  All the males in the cast and crew serenaded the ladies with appropriately re-penned lyrics from a favourite Beauty And The Beast song and followed that up by presenting each of the girls with a rose, courtesy of Sheridan Nurseries, where cast member Steven Cline works.

On Sunday, February 17 the technical crew begins the task of assembling the set on the stage of Markham Theatre and setting up the lighting and sound.  An then, on the following Tuesday, it’s the final full dress rehearsal, with cast, set, lighting, sound, costumes and makeup!

Beauty And The Beast opens on Wednesday, February 20, with 7:30 p.m. performances through to Saturday February 23, and additional matinee performances on Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24 at 1:00 p.m..

Tickets can be purchased through the Markham Theatre box office by calling 905-305-7469.

For complete show details click here.

To learn more about the Unionville Theatre Company, visit







The Orchestra, with conductor Doug Manning (third from the right, back row)

Assistant Stage Manager,
Caela Kavanagh
Clennie Fraser-Mangialardi, Courtney Wilson,
Emily Boden and Catherine Gardner
Krista Simpson, Lyndsay Edwards
 and Liisa Kallasmaa-Davis
Morgan Potter, Sydney Keir and Jordan Boscariol
Tara Chandran, Liisa Kallasmaa-Davis
 and Rosie Mak
Dennis Cline and son Steven Cline
Marc Harwood and Lyndsay Edwards Valentine serenade
Hannah Mak and Dennis Cline Cathy Edwards and Tal Shulman

Alex Simpson, Kaitlyn Reid
and Madeline Mason

Graham Dewar, President of the Board
of Unionville Theatre Company


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