Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 29, 2010
St. John Bosco youth bring Jesus' story to the parish stage
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
St. John Bosco would be proud. Known as a confessor and teacher of youth, the saint dedicated his life to uplifting and educating youngsters.
Many youngsters from St. John Bosco Parish's youth group wowed the audience with their recent Lenten musical.
More than 30 actors, ranging in age from three to 22, have been busily rehearsing every Sunday since early February in preparation for The Witness, written by Jimmy and Carol Owens.
Their hard work paid off, as the March 21 evening production went off without a hitch. A combination of dazzling costumes, catchy songs, dance choreography and lighting made for a memorable performance.
"The challenges have been working through the script and getting through it without glitches or problems," director Francis Lajeunesse told the WCR on the day of their final rehearsal.
While getting everything to sound right, ensuring the characters would enter on cue and struggling with the sound system were obstacles, Lajeunesse's efforts received accolades.
"My reward is working with the youth. I have four children of my own. Working with the youth from the parish is the fun part," he said, noting that hearing the young people sing and watching them dance "sends goose-bumps down my spine."
The parish youth group has hosted The Witness five times since 2003. Playing the role of Peter and narrating the play was Benjamin Jo, who played the same role in the first production.
Seven years ago, Jo was nervous speaking before the audience, but Lajeunesse said the young man has noticeably more self-confidence at the podium and engages the audience with his voice "like a politician now."
There were 24 songs in the play, which meant strong singers were required. Playing important roles in this regard were Maureen David and Vicky Nickel, who played Mary, Jesus' mother.
Particularly moving songs included Nothin' Ever Happens, When You Find the Truth, Silver and Gold, and Lambs Alone.
Also stealing the show with their vocals was the trio of fishermen played by Paul Lee Wah, Christopher Travas and Denis Swoboda.
Providing more entertainment was the expressive worship dance. What's most amazing is that most of the youth had never danced before.
"My role is to choreograph the dances that the boys and girls do. I think we dance for about 10 of the songs," said Stephanie Henry, 16, who shared the choreographer responsibilities with Maria Lee Wah. "Because some of the kids are younger, it takes longer for them to learn the dances, and sometimes I get frustrated with it."
Despite those frustrations, she said all of the dancers exceeded her expectations, retaining the dance moves and information they were taught.
"(My reward is) self-satisfaction because I've never been a choreographer before. I know that I can dance but I've never had to do this, teach others. I've really pushed myself to teach them," said Henry.
The play, she said, "examines Jesus' life and what he had to go through, but putting a fun spin to it through dancing."
"It talks about Jesus' life in musical form. It's interesting because we did it a couple years back already, and we had a good turnout. It was really well done. We decided to continue it."
Other individuals worked behind the scenes on makeup, hair, props, light design and music.
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