By Darren Lum
Finding a theatrical experience to enhance youth development is well underway thanks to the Camexicanus’ ambition to stage School of Rock The Musical.
At its heart, the School of Rock is a story about being true to who you are and not caring what societal expectations there are as far as conformity. Well known by fans of Hollywood actor Jack Black, who starred in the feature length movie with the same name from 2003, the story is about a struggling guitarist who is left needing work and takes a job teaching music to students.
Co-founder and director of Camexicanus Greg Sadlier said they chose to stage School of Rock because the story is about how a group of young people are misunderstood, overlooked or ignored by adults in their lives and how individual adults can make a difference by supporting and fostering growth, which is what he and his staff attempt to do.
“It really resonates with what we do … wow, this is us. This is what we do and, really, that shines through even more so in the musical than the movie. It really does get deeper I think. Where it is about the journey of these kids discovering who they are, despite their surroundings. And I think that is going to be mirrored in the experience of our kids,” Sadlier said.
Camexicaus held School of Rock auditions recently and currently has 14 cast members, but Sadlier said there are still spots available.
“We’ll make a spot,” he said.
He added they double-cast certain roles to ensure there was more opportunity for people to be able to participate.
Darian Willis, assistant director and student leader with Camexicanus, said this is a unique opportunity for young people to grow.
“It takes a lot of encouraging and pushing kids to get to that point. So, the fact that we already have so many kids that are ready, willing and able just to jump in and are ready to take on big roles. I think it’s really important that each and everyone of them get a good role,” he said.
He adds for youth these kinds of experiences are important because it builds self-confidence by getting youth to try new things and get out of their comfort zone.
Among the other benefits of this musical is how it brings together youth from all kinds of backgrounds, which includes the rep hockey player and possibly a child that doesn’t love hockey, but loves to act. It can “shake up the paradigm,” Sadlier said.
Any perceived social structures disappear, he added.
Providing the inspiration for youth is at the foundation of the Music2gether music lessons, which are private “pay what you can” lessons (in vocal, electric and acoustic guitar, theory, piano and drums) for anyone from Grade 1 to 12 after school. Adults are also encouraged to participate in lessons, which are $20 and help to support the children’s offering happening weekly in Haliburton at the Haliburton Highlands Museum on Tuesdays, at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Minden on Wednesdays and at the Lloyd Watson Memorial Centre in Wilberforce on Thursdays. Lessons are 30 minutes and the duration of time is from the end of school until early evening, which can be close to 7 p.m.
Camexicanus has grown a lot from only offering several programs to only a couple dozen of local children and youth to 180 children and youth all over the province. Sadlier said the programming has been modelled after examples from around the world. In particular, the pay what you can music lessons being offered to children and adults this year is an idea from Mexico. The learning that takes place by all ages is central and fosters an atmosphere that learning is a lifelong pursuit.
An open stage opportunity for young people is courtesy of Camexicanus, who will be at this weekend’s Colourfest enabling performances of all kinds at the bandshell in Haliburton in Head Lake Park at 6:30 p.m.
School of Rock performances are expected at the end of November. Purchase tickets and see specific dates on Camexicanus’ website camexicanus.ca.
For more information and to register for the music lessons see www.camexicanus.ca or email email@example.com.