The Ukee Children’s Glee Club is getting ready to wow local crowds.
The young performers will present ‘The Adventures of Many Alices in Ukeeland’ at the Ucluelet Community Centre on May 27 and 28 with the doors opening at 6 p.m. for 6:30 p.m. shows each night.
The locally-infused retelling of Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was penned by the club’s co-creator Courtney Johnson and the ensemble cast includes about 30 local kids.
“It’s about finding your home and your space and your niche in this community…everybody realizes how happy they are to be where it is that they live,” Johnson told the Westerly.
“For anybody that has moved here from somewhere else and anybody that was born and raised here, I really did my best to try to get that message across that we live in one of the best places on earth.”
Johnson and Sarah Hogan created the Glee Club in 2012 and Johnson has been thrilled to watch it evolve in the community’s embrace.
“It’s found its roots in the community and it’s expanded that way and grown,” she said. “It’s blossomed and found a foundation and built from there and I feel confident that it’s going to keep going.”
She said programs like Glee are important because they help young locals find passions in the arts.
“The arts are very important because not every child is going to grow up to be a surfer or an architect…there’s children that are musicians and singers and dancers and this provides a very holistic niche,” she said.
“When I was a child I was a singer and a dancer and it made me feel like I could be somebody. I was not the basketball star or track star and I didn’t fit, but when I found musical theatre when I was a child suddenly I fit somewhere.”
She added West Coast youth are uniquely tuned in to creative outlets.
“We absolutely have creative children,” she said. “We are in a community that is blossoming with musicians and artists…In this beautiful area that we live in you have to be bit with the creative bug one way or another.”
She hopes to see locals pack the house at the upcoming May 27-28 shows and said large audiences help the kids feel supported.
“At each performance, when the doors open, they’re always peeking their heads around the corner to see who’s shown up,” she said. “They want to show off the fruits of their labour, because it’s fun but it’s also hard work.”
She added the community’s support helps set the stage for the kids to feel valued and gain confidence.
“It’s really phenomenal for these kids. They get to see that the community cares,” she said. “The more the community loves this, the more these kids realize they have a light to shine on the world.”
Johnson added she had no idea the club would take off so successfully when she and Hogan launched it and the local support she’s received has been heartwarming and appreciated.
“I am so grateful to the community, to the students and to the parents that let Sarah and I teach their children. I’ve found my calling here. I’ve found the shoe that fits,” she said adding collaborating with Hogan has been inspiring.
“I’d be lost without her. She’s definitely a rock for me and she’s a really, really, great friend and I’m very grateful to know her and work with her.”