When Sandy Zinck began searching for a show for the senior musical theatre class in Confederation Centre’s youth dance program, she had certain criteria in mind.
It had to be based in reality.
It had to incorporate music, dance and theatre.
And it had to be highly entertaining.
She found these qualities and more with When In Rome, a comedy from the Pioneer Drama Service.
“The musical is based in olden times, so we have gladiators fighting and muses singing and dancing,” says Zinck, director for dance umbrella’s production of When In Rome which hits the boards of The Mack in Charlottetown on March 9 at 7:30 p.m.
Written by Martin A. Follose, When in Rome begins with peasant thieves Gladius (Will Millington), Minimus (Dalton Mackenzie) and Julia (Morgan Wagner) slipping into the royal palace veiled as handmaidens. Gladius becomes taken with the princess (Lindsay Gillis).
Unfortunately, the trio is caught and is close to becoming lion food when, at the last moment, the princess gets an idea.
Gillis, who plays the lead, believes the show has audience appeal.
“It has something for everyone. There’s lots of great music, physical comedy as well as clever dialogue. It’s a fun show. We’re all having a good time up there. We’re all good friends. So I encourage everyone to attend. It’s fun to watch young people do what they love to do,” says the first-year UPEI music student who also likes the character that she plays.
“The princess thinks she is as good as any man. She thinks she can run the whole empire.”
After weeks and weeks of rehearsing on a bare stage and using only their imaginations, she and her fellow classmates donned togas earlier this week to make the transition to first century BC.
And their leaders were watching.
“It made a big difference the other night during rehearsals when they placed the columns on stage. They were like, ‘Ok, now we’re really in Rome’, “ says Wanda Naylor, choreographer.
Although the show is set in Rome, the dances are not classical.
“They’re eclectic. We wanted to give the kids a chance to explore different styles of music. For example, there’s a salsa piece, a vaudeville jazz kind of piece, as well as some classical ballet,” says Naylor.
Zinck is proud of When In Rome and the performers.
“The senior students have been working together for a number of years, and Wanda and I have watched them grow up,” says the director, noting the show also features Brynn Cutcliffe, Alexandra Durant, Erin Hannah, Courtney Horrocks, Tristan Lewis, Aaron Ryder, Julia MacVicar, Laura Mark, Eden McFadden, Jade Myers and Graeme Zinck.
“It’s really exciting seeing them develop as singers, dancers and actors, honing their craft,” says Zinck.
Sally Cole is a features writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.