Grand Bend native joins ensemble cast for “best summer job ever”
Lambton Main Street Players Funded by the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation Various venues and times across Lambton county until August 25 Grand Bend: Farmers’ Market July 18 and 25, 10:30 to 11 a.m. On the beach – August 3, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Huron Country Playhouse – August 11, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
The Lambton Main Street Players were formed by Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation’s community economic development officer Mary Alderson, who saw a similar group called Vibe last year in Muskoka. A funding organization called ArtsVest had money for Lambton county arts initiatives, and Alderson applied. Twenty-three young people auditioned and six were chosen to perform throughout Lambton county this summer. Grand Bend native Christine Vandenberk is among the six.
As told to Casey Lessard
This is my summer job. It’s probably the best summer job I’m going to ever have. It’s pretty awesome. We are a song and dance group that does mostly 50’s and 60’s music. It’s really high energy and enthusiastic. The group consists of kids between 15 and 20, all from Lambton County. I became interested in theatre when I was about 12, ushering at the Huron Country Playhouse. We got to see shows for free because we had to sit in the back. I probably saw about 30 or 40 shows over the course of four years. That was really where it all started for me because I wasn’t really into it in grade school but as soon as high school hit I went and auditioned for the school show. I got in and it was really great. Some of our music, the Ellie Greenwich music, is from that musical that I did in Grade 9. Ever since it’s just been my thing. I remember going to an audition in February. There were two sets of auditions. Lindsay and I were in the same audition as well as Doug Price, our director, he was in there. I was like, ‘Oh, this guy is really good.’ We were chosen and we got together and practiced for a few weeks. It was about eight hours of practicing a day so it was very intense but it went really well. It’s been a very enjoyable experience. When we first started, we did a show in a restaurant. It was raining that day and we only had three people show up. The second show was not well advertised so we only had five people but ever since we’ve had a least 20 people or more. We did a few shows at the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia and for our first one we probably had about 150 people. It went really well. I can’t wait (to perform on the beach and at the Playhouse) because I’m from Grand Bend and there’s a lot of people I know in Grand Bend. I think it will be really fun. I think that this is definitely a big leap of faith kind of career. I’ve heard from the other guys that go to the school already that they teach you a lot about that. It’s all self-promotion and self-advertisement and really getting out there and giving out your résumé. It’s also a lot about the people that you know. This job is really good for that. I know a lot of people in Lambton county so you get to go out and show the people that you know what you love to do. It’s really awesome for me. You get to get out there and all those people from Lambton county get to see you. And you never know who could be watching. It’s all really good publicity for the people involved. I would say that our show is most definitely a family show. Everybody from kids to grandparents can come out. It won’t make anyone uncomfortable. It’s really a lot of fun. We get the audience involved and it’s just fun for everybody to watch. Everybody knows the music.
The Lambton Main Street Players are co-directed by Thomas Alderson (grandson of the late Bill and Hazel Blewett of Grand Bend) and Doug Price. “We wanted to create a show that would appeal to everybody,” says Price. “We wanted popular music. We wanted songs that everybody would know. Everybody knows the words. Everybody can sing along. It’s all feel good music.” “The response has been overwhelming,” Mary Alderson says. “I’m getting phone calls and e-mails everyday saying, ‘Can we get them into our town?’ It’s been a wonderful experience and the kids have just been fantastic.”