The 11th Street Kids Theatre’s Nov. 30 performance of Shrek will unfortunately be its last.
Jean Pinto, or Jean Byrnell as she is now known, and Liz Mason, the founders of the youth theatre group, both felt that it was time to close the curtain, figuratively and literally.
“It’s been 20 years,” said Byrnell. “That’s the only reason. We’re busy with other things. I wrote a sewing column for the Gazette for 20 years, so it must be a magic number.”
“Our kids were young then and now they’re grown and gone,” quipped Mason.
It is too hard for Byrnell and Mason to name a favourite production over the span of the 11th Street Kids Theatre’s existence but they have been impressed with the dedication of the kids and things always seem to work out.
“The process is the neat part in any production,” explained Mason. “You have to take a huge leap of faith that you will have something that is presentable.”
As the name entails, the group got its start at Byrnell’s old 11th Street house but it eventually moved on and so have the kids but according to Byrnell and Mason, taking part in the 11th Street Kids Theatre has many benefits.
“There are kids that certainly were not people that went on to do much with theatre in their lives but they said that when they stand up to give a presentation or are in a job interview, they just go back to that place in drama,” Byrnell explained.
“It’s a skill that you keep with you your whole life,” added Mason.
In order to aid with that, Mason and Byrnell stray from the usual style of scripts to ensure that kids get their fair share of the spotlight.
“When you have a group of between 30 and 40 children, you want to do a piece that’s an ensemble piece, rather than having one star,” Byrnell said.
“Jean makes it a point that every child gets at least a minimum of seven lines,” explained Mason.
The final performance of the 11th Street Kids Theatre, which as mentioned is an adaptation of Shrek will take place Friday, Nov. 30 at the auditorium at Grand Forks Secondary School at 7:30 p.m. with admission by donation.
Anyone who has ever taken part in the 11th Street Kids Theatre group will be invited on-stage after the final performance and sing the final song, which is Neil Diamond’s (and not The Monkees’) I’m a believer.