Sunday, December 06, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, December 4, 2009

Hey let's put on a show! Local performers prepare to celebrate Prince Rupert's 100th birthday and review its history with a revue, Cold weather means a spike in housing requests for those without affordable housing and the deadline for Watson Island bids beckons and so do the holidays at City Hall, some of the items of note for Friday.

Daily News, Front page, headline story
COMMUNITY MUSICAL WILL CELEBRATE CITY'S CENTENNIAL-- The call has gone out for actors, singers and dancers and any number of support positions all in the cause of presenting Prince Rupert's story on stage at the Lester Centre for the Arts in 2010, Prince Rupert's Centennial year, Peter Witherly working in collaboration with Rudy Kelly and Chris Armstrong is set to bring 100 years of history to life when the city celebrates its 100th birthday.
With cold weather settling in on the North Coast, Prince Rupert's emergency shelter program is expecting to receive more use than usual, as the Salvation Army prepares to help those that can't find housing for the cold nights of December.

The Daily News reviews the School District's World Fair approach consultations on Wednesday, designed to further the discussion on proposed grade configuration and the potential school closure of Prince Rupert Secondary School. With Superintendent Lynn Hauptman an apparent convert to the middle school system, much of the discussion with teachers, staff and students over the last few weeks has most likely revolved around that project and the impact it will have on the current structure of the school district. School District trustees will weigh all the debating points in early January to come to a decision on which path to follow and what the timeline of any decision will be.

Girls basketball at PRSS and CHSS was featured in Friday's Sports section as well as a look at the wrestling program in Prince Rupert his year.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for December 4th )

The Northern View
Decision on the sale of Watson Island expected to come in January -- City Council will be anxiously awaiting a report from staff on the 15th of December outlining the most acceptable bids in the quest to sell the Watson Island pulp mill. Then with that information compiled, the issue will go on the back burner, as council and staff enjoy a Christmas break before reconvening in January to discuss the matter further (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
No new items posted for Friday on the website

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
No items for Tuesday were updated on the CBC Daybreak website
Daily News, Front page, headline story
Community musical will celebrate city’s centennial
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Friday, December 4, 2009

Up to his elbows in music and lyrics, Peter Witherly is in the last stages of preparing a community musical to mark Prince Rupert’s centennial in 2010.

There will be an information meeting December 6 at the Lester Centre at 7 p.m. for anyone interested in being a part of the show.

“We are looking for actors, singers and dancers, as well as people to work backstage, on costumes and with sets,” Witherly said, adding there are a few roles for children and about 40 parts in all.

For months Witherly has been collaborating on the script with Rudy Kelly and Chris Armstrong to present a story that will span the decades both historically and through fictional characters.
“We’ve got Duff Pattullo, Peter Lester, Iona Campagnolo and a memorial to Charles Hays after he goes down on the Titanic, but most of the characters are fictional,” Witherly noted.

The story begins at pre-contact and will be an opportunity to feature First Nations dancers.
There is also the main character – a raven – that never ages and appears through the entirety of the play.

“Raven is a spirit and appears throughout the play because he is immortal. He has lost his drum and is trying to get it back so he can bring rhythm and life back to the area, but the drum keeps alluding him,” Witherly explained.

Throughout the play, Raven takes on the guise of various identities and personas. In fact, for a scene from 1944, he shows up in drag as a USO entertainer and joins four women performing a song.

“That was Rudy’s idea,” chuckled Witherly.

With a format of self-contained scenes that can be transported and performed independently, Witherly is hoping that after the show is produced at the end of March in 2010, and possibly remounted for the Homecoming in May, parts of the play can be used for other events.

Witherly is writing all the music and the lyrics with an aim to create pieces that reflect specific time periods.

At the end of the first act, for example, the year is 1944, and the scene ends with a large song and dance number.

Video images of historical photographs will also enhance the scenes and costuming is going to be a major thing because of the different eras. In 1958, when Peter Lester reads the riot act, he’s faced by an angry mob of fishermen and Raven shows up as Elvis with sideburns to deliver his protest.

Responding, Lester starts singing in a Leonard Cohen style.

Witherly moved to Prince Rupert from Edmonton in 1971 to teach band for the local school district. He has directed the Prince Rupert Rotary Community Choir for years and now conducts the Prince Rupert Community Band.

He will be the musical director for the show and said there will be both a band and choir stationary on the set.

Busier than ever in his retirement from teaching, Witherly said that a number of years ago he had thought about writing a musical that would reflect local history.

With the centennial looming, he decided it was time to put pen to paper.

The musical is being produced by the Lester Centre of the Arts. After the primary information session there on Sunday, people interested performing will work on one of the songs and some choreography.

“If they are interested in coming back, then they can sign up for auditions taking place December 8 and 10,” Witherly noted.

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