GPLT column: Backstage at Grande Prairie Live Theatre

The Addams Family Musical runs until Oct. 5 at the new Performing Arts Centre attached to the new St. John Paul II Catholic School. Wayne Ayling / GPLT

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This is a new series spotlighting the volunteers and activities of Grande Prairie Live Theatre. We thank the Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune for this opportunity. As this is the first of many articles to come, we would like to highlight our 56-year history of contributing to the Grande Prairie Cultural landscape.

Our history is about how more than 4,100 different actors, singers, dancers, directors, producers, stage managers, set designers, costume designers, seamstresses, makeup artists and many more behind-the-scenes volunteer contributors have entertained over 270,000 people over the past 56 years.

Our theatre roots date back to 1932, with the formation of “The Good Companion Players.” Grande Prairie was a cultural hotspot in 1932 with a 50-voice male choir and a symphony orchestra. In 1935, the Little Theatre Group Orchestra was formedTheatre and music groups fell apart during the Second World War. During those years, St. Joseph’s Dramatic Society and United Church Players put on a few shows. In 1958 the Grande Prairie Players were formed. In 1962 the Grande Prairie Players and the Operatic Society joined forces to officially become the Grande Prairie Little Theatre Society on January 16, 1963. As a response to changing times, Grande Prairie Little Theatre became Grande Prairie Live Theatre in 2001.

We have done a wide selection of plays over many different genres; 318 productions over 56 years. Plus over 100 concerts! And festivals! And we incubated the prestigious Reel Shorts Film Festival for it’s first 10 years! We incubated the festival for youth – the Grande Prairie Children’s Festival. We host the Alberta Drama Festival Association’s Regional One Act Adult Play Festival. We hosted 2 of the ADFA’s Provincial Finals Play Festivals. We have hosted Regional High School One Act Play Festivals.

We have grown as our region has grown. We have grown from two shows a year with 35 volunteers in 1963 to 84 nights of entertainment and nearly 300 volunteers in 2019.

We believe in providing live theatre educational opportunities for youth and adults. We do one play featuring mostly youth actors every year. This year our play for all ages is James and the Giant Peach. Our summer Rising Star Drama Camps for youth between seven and 17 have been running for over 30 years. Many of the youth attending these summer camps have gone on to perform in GPLT’s plays for adults, to be GPLT Board members and to take post-secondary professional training in live theatre.

We host workshops for all ages on many live theatre topics. This season we have six workshops planned in acting for the stage and screen, playwriting, makeup, and scenic/set design.

Right now, GPLT is selling tickets to 18 different events including seven GPLT plays, six GPLT concerts, and five independent community events. Check out all these events at gplt.ca. You can buy tickets online, in person or call the GPLT Box Office at 780-538-1616.

Our current play has been getting amazing reviews! The Addams Family Musical runs until Oct. 5 at the new Performing Arts Centre attached to the new St. John Paul II Catholic School.

—Wayne Ayling, GPLT

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