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WECAP presents “Xanadu” as its first production


by Sylene Argent

Over the weekend, the Windsor-Essex Community Arts Project (WECAP) presented “Xanadu” as its first production for the community to enjoy at the Masonic Lodge.

  WECAP, a new-to-the-area theatre production company, includes cast members between the age of 12 and 18, from all over Windsor and Essex County. With its origins in Kingsville, the theatre company moved into Essex at the beginning of the year, just a few months after being formed, to find a more centralized area within the region to meet.  

  Bonnie Porteous, Chairperson of the Windsor-Essex Community Arts Project, said the cast members have worked hard throughout COVID measures to put together its first production. The actors get together to rehearse on Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons, and typically spend around eight-hours a week rehearsing through those two sessions.

  Twenty youths are involved in the first production, of which three of the characters were double cast, as there was a large amount of singing involved in this play. Double casting these parts also gives more youths an opportunity to take on a leading role. The actors of these three characters will get equal stage time over the two weekends the play is available.

  In total, WECAP scheduled eight performances of the two-hour show, with four to be hosted this Friday through Sunday.

  In the play, Porteous said, Greek muses come to earth to help inspire an aspiring artist in 1980. It features music by Electric Light Orchestra and from the movie Xanadu, though the stage production is more of a parody.

  “The intimate theatre style really works well with the interaction of the show. I think people will really find themselves immersed in it,” she said, adding some of the cast had to learn how to roller skate for the role.

  She added the youths are singing in three- and-four-part harmonies, while dancing energetically.

  “The amount of work they have put in memorizing their own harmonies on their own time, I am so tremendously proud of them for persevering, and all through COVID and the lockdowns, which really threw us into a bit of a tizzy. They just worked so hard and have done so well,” Porteous said.

  WECAP is also working with another group of 35 youths on a second production for the play, “Welcome to Underland.”  

  The involved youths in both productions auditioned for the roles in the play, however, Porteous noted WECAP does not turn youths away, and tried to find them a spot in the show, if they can.

  “We really are keen on helping to develop and instill confidence in these kids, to turn them away would defeat the purpose,” she said, adding some of the youths may only want to dance or may not want to deliver lines. “We try to accommodate that as much as we can.”  

  Porteous has a background in theatre and business. Costuming, however, is her real passion. As Chairperson of WECAP, she is responsible for many aspects of the theatre company. Kathleen Costa, Director and Vocal Director, is a local vocal teacher who is involved with various local theatre companies, and Becca Silvius is the Choreographer and Assistant Director, who has experience with local community theatres.

  We all have a passion for bringing these opportunities to the kids, but also to the community to enjoy,” Porteous said. “We really are immensely proud of the high caliber of talent that we have.”  

  When individuals come out to enjoy a show at the Masonic Lodge, Porteous said the theatre is perfect for a show like Xanadu, as it emulates the idea of a colosseum.

  “The Masons have been so wonderful to us and have been very hospitable,” she said, noting those with WECAP are excited to offer this programing.

  “I am really excited for the Town of Essex to experience theatre,” Porteous said, noting many other communities have their own theatre companies, so it is nice for Essex to have one. “We really want to become a part of the community.”

  For more information about the theatre company or to learn about upcoming showtimes, log onto https://www.wecommunityartsproject.com/

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