THUNDER BAY - There is an old bookshop that does not appear to be all that special, but when the lights go out, classic literary characters literally leap from the pages and are brought to life by a troupe of young and talented actors.
“I love seeing the different personalities of different people,” said 14-year-old Sarah Hughes. “Some of us are more shy, but until we get on the stage, then boom, there is my personality. Everyone has a really great personality here and it’s really great to see that.”
The Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre is presenting The Enchanted Bookshop at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. For the past 37 years, the Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre has been providing youth with professional theatre training and experiences, while also bringing classic tales to the stage for Thunder Bay audiences.
Past shows produced include The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book, and while the Enchanted Bookshop is not as well known, audiences can definitely expect to see some familiar faces.
“There are so many classical book characters,” said 10-year-old Rhys Pearson, who plays Tammy. “There’s some characters that are in the human world that are not part of the book world.”
The play follows the owner of the bookshop, Margie, played by Sarah. During the day, the shop is a typical store, but at night, unbeknownst to Margie, the characters from the books come to life.
But there is more excitement happening in this little shop, with jewel smugglers looking for one particular book that has riches beyond the written word.
“During the show that is sort of all revealed and slowly but surely, the two separate stories join together,” said director Aleksa Shermack. “Every year we do something a little different. We like to take a standard show and put a few twists on it.”
The cast this year includes 21 youth and Shermack said what makes productions with the Eleanor Drury Children’s Theatre so special is how the show is really the vision of the youth.
“We work really with the youth involved to create a show unique to the talents that we have in the show and the talents of the kids and youth involved,” she said. “We include songs, media pieces, an dances that are all heavily influenced and choreographed or arranged by the actual youth involved.”
Shermack added allowing the youth to take the reigns provides them with professional theatre experience and a sense of pride that they are putting on a show for the community.
“They have worked really hard since the beginning of September to create these characters, work together as a team, and I think ultimately they feel when they perform that this is their show,” she said.
Sarah, who has worked on six past productions, said everyone works together to create something really unique on stage.
“I love helping,” she said. “Instead of having our own character and working on that, we get to help everyone develop their characters and develop their personalities, too.”
And the cast is particularly proud of this play. Even though it is not very well known, it has become something all their own.
“This isn’t one of those shows that lots of people are going to know what it’s about, so it’s a show that they are going to be like: wow, this is so cool,” Rhys said.
“I think it’s a lot different,” Sarah added. “Normally we do stories you already know, but in this case this story, you don’t know, and it’s fun to find out.”A public performance of The Enchanted Bookshop will take place on Tuesday Nov. 27 at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $10 for children under 12-years-old and are available at the box office.