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CSOPA's six spring productions in Chilliwack include play about boy with autism

Chilliwack Progress - 4/24/2019

The young actors at Chilliwack School of Performing Arts are juggling six shows at the same time in preparation for their full-length spring production plus their annual Spring Festival.

First up will be two-act play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on May 3 and 4. The production is written by Simon Stephens, based on the book by Mark Haddon.

"It's a show about Christopher who's 15. He's on the autism spectrum… and he comes across a mystery he decides to solve, so he ventures out into the world and along the way comes across a few more mysteries," says Lisa Braun, artistic director for Chilliwack School of Performing Arts (CSOPA). "He discovers that he can actually do a lot of things that he didn't think he could do."

"It's such a beautiful story. We've put a lot into it," she says, adding that there are aerial lifts, acrobatics and fight choreography in the play.

The play does include infrequent, mild coarse language, but, she says "it's there for a reason… to show this harsh world that Christopher is trying to enter and understand, where people's faces say one thing and their voices say another."

Christopher is played by 15-year-old Graysen Braun, who also wrote all the instrumental music for the play.

Everyone in the cast has contributed some design elements for Curious Incident, as part of it being a graduate studies program.

There are eight others in the cast who all play characters in Christopher's life, showing the audience what his world is like through his eyes. A few of the cast members are on the autism spectrum and they've all had "very strong voices" in the play, says Lisa Braun.

"It really shows a very beautiful scope of what it is to be raising a child with different needs or different neurology, and the challenges and stresses that are involved and the joys that are involved with that. It's quite lovely," she adds.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time runs May 3 (7:30 p.m.) and May 4 (2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) in the Hub International Theatre at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre (CCC).

From May 20 to 24, CSOPA's annual Spring Festival will see six plays hit the Rotary Hall Studio Theatre stage at CCC, including Curious Incident on May 23 (8 p.m.) and May 24 (8:30 p.m.). The others are:

The Big Bad Musical (junior musical theatre, ages 9 and 10): The jury must decide the outcome of the biggest trial ever in the fairy-tale world. The notorious Big Bad Wolf is being slapped with a class-action lawsuit by storybooks of quirky characters who want to get even: Little Red Riding Hood, her Grandmother, the Three Little Pigs and the Shepherd in charge of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. With Sydney Grimm as the commentator on live Court TV, the two greatest legal minds in the Enchanted Forest — the Evil Stepmother and the Fairy Godmother — clash in a trial that will be remembered forever after. Audiences will love this real time drama where in the end, the audience as the jury will decide whether the wolf is guilty or innocent of his crimes. This play is 40 minutes long. Show times are: May 20 (11:30 a.m.), May 21 (6:30 p.m.), and May 23 (5 p.m.).

The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (junior musical theatre, ages 8 and 9): An ensemble cast attempts to recreate all 209 of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm in a wild, fast-paced extravaganza. To make it more difficult, they attempt to combine them into one gigantic fable using Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and other more obscure stories. The result is a hilarious, silly, and often dizzying spectacle that will have audiences cheering. A wild, free-form comedy with lots of audience participation and madcap fun. Also, as part of this show, are two-person scenes performed by CSOPA's Acting WITH cast. Combined time of 60 minutes. Show times are May 20 (10:15 a.m.), May 21 (5 p.m.), and May 22 (5 p.m.).

The Tempest (intermediate acting): A tale of love, loss, forgiveness and freedom. This Shakespearean classic is performed by an all-female cast, set in a modern age. Are you connected to the magic and wonder of the world around you, or is the world a tiny box in your hand? Discover with Prospero how to balance the two worlds and forgive old foes. This play is 60 minutes long. Show times are May 20 (6 p.m.), May 21 (7:45 p.m.), and May 23 (6:15 p.m.).

The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley (intermediate musical theatre, ages 10 to 15): Stanley Lambchop is your ordinary, everyday 10-year-old until the bulletin board on the wall above his bed comes loose and falls right on top of him. The next morning, Stanley wakes up flat. In a whirlwind musical travelogue, Stanley — the ultimate exchange student — scours the globe for a solution to his unusual problem. He's stamped, posted and cancelled from Hollywood and France to Honolulu and beyond, all in an effort to become a three-dimensional boy once more. Stanley's journey takes him all across the globe, to many interesting locales, filled with lots of colourful characters, which make for great casting opportunities. This play is 70 minutes long. Show times are May 20 (4 p.m.), May 22 (6:15 p.m.), and May 24 (6:45 p.m.).

Willy Wonka Junior (intermediate musical theatre, ages 10 to 15): A shortened version of Roald Dahl's classic story Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The story follows enigmatic candy manufacturer Willy Wonka as he stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whomever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats, but the fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket, who takes the tour in the company of his equally amiable grandfather. The children must learn to follow Mr. Wonka's rules in the factory – or suffer the consequences. This play is 70 minutes long. Show times are May 20 (2 p.m.), May 22 (7:45 p.m.), and May 24 (5 p.m.).

All seats $12 per show. Tickets available at or 604-391-7469.

"There's so much work that goes into it. [The kids] work really hard. I'm hoping people will take a chance on something they haven't seen before," says Braun of Curious Incident. "Come and see something that's going to make you think and possibly open up a different part of your consciousness and understanding of people."

Curious Incident will also be in the Fraser Valley Zone Competition in Coquitlam on May 16, and at the Harrison Festival of the Arts on July 16.


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