Young students play right along with actors

Perry
Perry Bergson
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Jena Mailloux appears as the Queen and Arnelle Gamble as Snow White during a performance of Snow White by the Mad Hatter Theatre Company at Vincent Massey Community School on Friday morning. The Carlton Comprehensive Public High School students will stage the play again Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, with three final school performances closing out the show next week.

You haven’t watched Snow White until you’ve seen it with a gymnasium full of angry elementary school students.

The Mad Hatter Theatre Company from Carlton Comprehensive Public High School staged the pantomime play at Vincent Massey Community School on Friday morning. As the wicked Queen tried to tempt Snow White with the apple, the youngsters tried desperately to warn her with shouts and arms waving in the air.

Grade 12 student Jena Mailloux, who played the Queen, laughed when asked about the wrath she had incited.

“It was awesome. I had a blast!” she said. “They all hated me but I had fun. It’s great to see when the kids are so involved because you can tell they’re really enjoying it. That’s really what matters.”

Grade 11 student Arnelle Gamble, who shares the role of Snow White with Sarah Tweidt, agreed that the kids are terrific.

“When you have an interactive audience, it’s much easier just to go with it instead of having a really quiet audience,” Gamble said.

The two teenagers laughed when they talked about how they would have to wait to deliver their next line, or even try to quiet the kids down.

Director David Zulcoskey said the play is like a rock concert for youngsters.

“We just pushed and pushed in terms of action and we got our response,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see little children interact with the actors, to see them believe in what’s happening. That’s what makes theatre so powerful, that interaction between the actor and the audience.”

The troupe, which includes 15 actors and 15 crew members, has been working on the play since school started and staging it since mid-November.

But the end is near.

The group has performances on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre, with three final school performances closing out the show next week.

At this point, the well-oiled production is totally student run, Zulcoskey says.

He admits that there’s some sadness with the end of every play.

“That’s the interesting thing about this,” he says. “We become like a family. Though we will have another production this spring, the spring’s a long time off. And they know that we will never be the same group necessarily in the next production.

“Now they’re counting performances to know that this one will come to an end. For the Grade 12s, it’s going to be a bit sad. This is their last children’s production.”

Organizations: Hatter Theatre, Vincent Massey Community School, E.A. Rawlinson Centre

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