A little piece of Broadway

Krysta Carroll
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Celtic Spirit Dancers take on Queen in upcoming show 

Instructor Sara Sheehan (front) teaches the performance group, which will dance to Queen numbers in the musical,

Grand Falls-Windsor — Grand Falls-Windsor will have its own little Broadway for three evenings in the new year.

“I Want to Break Free,” a musical by the Celtic Spirit Dancers featuring the music of Queen will be performed at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts at 7 p.m. on the evenings of Jan. 27-29.

The script was written by Sara Sheehan, who also choreographed the show. She said writing the script has become an Easter holiday event for her, and during summer holidays, she matches the choreography to the script she wrote during Easter.

This musical looks at the relationship among a group of teenagers.

“It’s a real exaggeration and humorous look at how teenagers are, how they treat each other. The little cliques they form in a schoolyard setting, and the pressures that are on them as to whether or not they are able to or want to pursue passions that sometimes in a schoolyard are not perceived as being cool,” Sheehan said.

There are two main characters, Velma who is being played by Kate Newell and Tammy, being played by Cecilia Oxford.

“Both of them have a passion for Irish dancing, however, it is not considered to be cool in their school and they are subject to a lot of bullying,” Sheehan said.

“The storyline revolves around whether or not the girls have enough of a passion, enough of a dedication, for their extra curricular activity to break free and do what they want to do.”

The performance has become an annual event. The first production three years ago was called, “I Still Believe.”

It wasn’t a musical, but rather an Irish look at Christmas.

“Since the girls enjoyed the performance part of it, it was decided at that point to do something annually,” Sheehan said.

Last year, the group performed its first musical “Dancing Queen,” featuring the music of ABBA.

Sheehan said it was a big undertaking and required more of a  script and live music.

“It’s even bigger now,” she said.

Approximately 70 people are involved in the production which includes a five-member band  — Tom Pinsent on drums, bassist Alan Noftall, two guitarists Gary Rodgers and Dave Stoodley and Joel Burke on piano — who are volunteering their time and a volunteer seven-piece chorus group.

In addition, five main actresses are doing the majority of the singing. A 12-piece performance group who will dance to 16 Queen numbers and all of the other dancers in the school will do an Irish dance piece that is worked into the storyline.

Shehan said the voice of Freddie Mercury has been challenging; to try to get the same emotion in the singing. Also, the music pieces were more difficult to learn, but everyone has been doing well.

Auditions took place Sept. 11 and performers have been practising ever since. All auditions were within the Celtic Spirit Dancers group.

“There is a lot of talent there,” she said.

Tickets for “I Want to Break Free” went on sale Dec. 6. The cost is $16.

“We’re running the show for three nights this year,” Sheehan said.

“We’re really hoping that people will come out and support the group because we’re actually using this particular production as a fundraiser for the girls. They are going to Ireland in 2012 to attend the World Irish Dancing Championships.”

Tickets are on sale at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts box office. Sheehan said it is hoped people will consider buying them as Christmas gifts for family and friends.

The expense for the group to travel to Ireland is $120,000.

“Our fundraisers to date have been successful, but the amount of money that you can bring in when you are looking at $120,000 total is pretty minor,” Sheehan said. “We’re hoping that we’re going to do well with the three shows and make this a payoff for how hard the girls have worked.”

Sheehan said one hurdle she is finding is the group is not well known in the community. Most people  know them as a dance school.

“They don’t know us a theatre group. They know us as a dance school so people are really unsure of whether or not to buy a ticket because they don’t know if they are just going to go and see another typical dance recital that many dance schools put off in June,” Sheehan said.

“Those that did attend last year were blown away. We’re really hoping that people will give us a chance this year and we’ll sell out the three shows.”

Kate, one of the lead performers, has been involved in Irish dancing for two years. She said she was ecstatic to find out she was chosen as one of the stars.

“I really wanted it, so I was excited and happy that I got to do this,” Kate said, adding she will be singing, dancing and acting her part.

“I am a teenager in high school. I am a geek and I don’t have any friends. I am really into Irish dancing,” she said of her character.

“There is this group of girls at school and they make fun of me and bully me. There is this talent school coming up in school and I am afraid if I go out with Irish dancers that they are going to make even more fun of me. So, I am trying to decide if I am going to go out and take a risk or if I am not going to do it and stay back.”

She added there are a number of benefits from being involved in Irish dancing, and the performance, such as building  confidence.

“It’s not really like anything else that anybody does, like hip hop and all that. There is a lot more technique involved in it so it’s something you really have to work for,” Kate said. “It’s really good exercise and it is kind of hard, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really fun.”

She said a lot of work is being done for the performers to prepare for the show. Many cast members spend as much as 12 hours a week in rehearsals.

“They are really fun, long, but really fun,” she said. “There is a lot more dancing involved this year and a lot of different types of dancing. I can’t wait to go on stage. I think it’s going to be really cool.”

The Advertiser

Organizations: Gordon Pinsent Centre

Geographic location: Broadway, Ireland

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