On Friday night I sat in the Strand theatre in Melita, Manitoba with a bit of nervous anticipation. Our girl Jill would soon be on stage with the cast of Frozen for a production they pulled together in 9 days at a theatre camp. I was so proud of Jill before the curtain even rose. Having just graduated from high school she was surely the oldest member of the cast, that didn’t hold her back. She heard about the opportunity and knew immediately she wanted to sign up. She is in a bit of limbo in her life, not sure what the next steps need to be, but she knows she loves musical theatre. She hoped for the part of Elsa, one of two female leads, she got it. She spent her days working on her part and riding the waves that come when sharing a project with children of many ages.
Once the curtain rose there was much to take in. The lead characters Anna and Elsa were played by three pairs of actresses, to relay the passing of time. The little ones were so cute and showed much promise as performers. Many familiar faces were part of the cast and that made it extra interesting. The staging of a musical with little time or budget involves a lot of dedication and creativity, it was very interesting to see how it all came together. The point where Jill and Amelia came on as the adult Anna and Elsa was notable. Both these girls attended the first ever theatre camp back in 2016, they both love it, they were both strong performers who carried their lines and the emotion within their parts very well. As an audience I think it was clear we could relax with the understanding, “they got this.” That is a big deal.
Jill basically blew me away. I have not had the chance to see her perform like this for so very long. Three years? The combination of her maturity, experience, inner spirit and ability meant she took to the stage with confidence and was very effective. I was so proud of her, she claimed her space as a performer. What do I mean when I say this? Its like the performer says within themselves, “I am here, with all that I am, I have a story to tell, I am letting you see something within me, I am dramatic, I may not be what you are expecting, but I am here and I am not leaving till I have given every last drop to get my message across.” I know from experience that this is not easy to do but it makes the difference between an average and an excellent performance. One of Jill’s fans was embarrassed by the tears that fell when taking in what Jill had to offer. I wasn’t surprised. They seeped from my eyes too.
I asked Jill if I could share the videos I took of her solos. She was not so comfortable with that. So you will have to trust me that her singing was lovely.
Beyond the chance to learn and perform, as a parent I find myself with hopes that my kids make friends in activities like this. It was therefore quite fun to drive home with Jill after the first performance and hear stories, not about the show, but the people in the show, the kids interacted with Jill in fun ways and it was heartwarming to hear how that all unfolded. Jill didn’t come home with a new best friend but she was enfolded in a little community and that matters.
Our friends and family were supportive of Jill, there were a lot of good feelings that flowed from seeing familiar faces and hearing words of support and affirmation. The long distance family lent their support from afar through the family chat. There are so many things that have made life challenging over the last couple years but without a doubt the chance to see faces and feel hugs and stand close for pictures makes a person think, “we are going to make it!”
Here are a selection of pictures we grabbed to remember the moments and the love.
We are thankful to Brittany Walker and the Antler River Recreation Department for creating opportunities that have meant alot to our family, especially Gina and Jill. We are really proud of them both, its Jill’s time to shine!