Youth connections

Blue Canoe productions puts on their second all high school show with 13

Reid Cunningham (centre) plays the male lead, popular guy Evan, in the musical 13.
Reid Cunningham (centre) plays the male lead, popular guy Evan, in the musical 13.
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Running in and out of the Baby Grand theatre during their dress rehearsal, the cast of 13 exchanged fist bumps of congratulations after a successful scene.

Community theatre company Blue Canoe Productions prides itself on its commitment to involving people from various age groups in its shows.

The company is showcasing its second high school show with 13 the Musical.

The first time the group produced a show with all high school students in the cast was in 2009’s Rent.

Queen’s student Michael Sheppard founded Blue Canoe Productions in 2006 when he first came to Queen’s because he saw a need for more student-run productions open to both students and the community.

Sheppard said from 2007-2009 Blue Canoe was completely student-run and all profits made from ticket sales went directly to funding the group.

Blue Canoe Productions became an AMS club in 2009.

“We didn’t get a student fee, but we got the ability to book space on campus for free and having a connection to the AMS made it easier to get students involved,” Sheppard, ArtSci ’12, said.

In January 2013, Blue Canoe Productions will become Blue Canoe Theatrical Productions Incorporated.

The group will become its own separate entity and will have access to apply for provincial grants, Sheppard said.

Ideally there will be two co-presidents of Blue Canoe in the future, Sheppard said — one Queen’s student to run the university chapter and Sheppard representing the community side so he can stay with Blue Canoe in the long term.

While the cast of 13 is all high school students, the crew is largely university students.

“Any sort of head position is a university student,” Sheppard said. “We’ve always been a mix.”

Production manager Molly Russell said 13 has more ConEd students in the crew than any other Blue Canoe show in the past.

“A lot of ConEd students were attracted to the project because it is working with high school students,” Russell, ConEd ’13 said.

Russell has been with Blue Canoe Productions for two years and she said working with high school students is different than working with university students.

“What I find with high school students versus some university students is that there’s no ego and they’re a lot more willing to learn.”

13 is about the trials and tribulations of a group of thirteen-year olds who fit different middle school stereotypes like the vain cheerleader and the dumb jock.

The male lead of 13 is popular guy Evan, who eventually falls for Patrice, the awkward girl in school.

Evan is played by twelfth grade student Reid Cunningham from Loyalist Collegiate Vocational Institute.

“At the beginning of rehearsals there was a divide with people from different high schools but when you start working together with people, you totally become a whole group,” he said.

The cast rehearsed five days a week as opening night approached.

In school every day as well, Cunningham said that this has given them limited time to hang out after rehearsal, but he added that he will “absolutely” be hanging out with his castmates after the musical is over.

13 the Musical runs until June 2 at the Baby Grand Theatre.

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