Toad of Toad Hall takes to the stage once more.

Although by day Karie Bergstrom is busy as the director
of Consulting and Human Resources at Deloitte, just recently her spare time has
been devoted to a passion that she has held since school days – the
theatre.
  

“I was very involved in the theatre in boarding school
and had a few acting roles before deciding I really preferred directing,” she
explains.

“I directed several plays for school and then had a crazy idea one
summer, out of sheer boredom, to put together a theatre group called ‘The Young
Ones’ focused on putting on plays for charity. I decided our first production
would be Toad of Toad Hall, which I directed and produced in the late 70s. I
enlisted the help of my family (my sisters were both main characters) and
friends and we put on the play at the Town Hall in George Town. It was a huge
success!” Karie reveals the event was one of her best memories as a teenager
and she always wanted to do it again with an all-student cast.

Karie says that interpreting the story into live action
meant following the guidance of the author with, she says, “a few of my own
twists.” She also confirms that she let the students have some liberty in the
interpretation of the characters.

“We have such a large stage to work with at the Prospect
Playhouse and we have utilised the space well. The ultimate goal of this
production was to let the students have fun and come to love theatre as I do,”
she says.

Although the play can be produced as a musical Karie says
they decided not to make it that involved however they retained a few of the
musical numbers.

Employing an all-student cast had been integral to
Karie’s idea to recreate the play again. “My first job was a school teacher and
I have a special place in my heart for children,” she states. “We wanted to
engage the CDS Student Executive Council in a full production at the playhouse
and to get them involved in the back-stage efforts of a play. It has been
tremendous working with the assistant director and the acting coach, Stephanie
Lewis and Teri Quappe.”  

Karie says the play was not at all difficult to cast but,
as with all plays, there were some fraught moments. “Unfortunately I did have
some late drops in cast and crew, which caused some anxiety, but I am a true
believer in the idea that ‘not every disappointment is a misfortune’ and it has
all turned out well,” she says.

Her biggest challenge when it came to directing a play
was understanding the policies of CDS and knowing who was responsible for what
as this was her first CDS production. The issues were not insurmountable,
however, and Karie says she got a tremendous amount out of the production.

“I truly went into this to have fun and put on something
that families could thoroughly enjoy together. The play is certainly for all
ages but there is some adult humour and important life messages for all,” she
explains.

Without a doubt Karie confirms that she gleaned the most
fun working with the children out of the entire event. “They are always so
upbeat, have great ideas and I loved the hugs!” she confirms.

Never-the-less, the final stages of rehearsals created
some tensions as Karie says: “I am a very organised person and hate to deal
with curve balls but certainly know how to deal with them. We did, and I was so
excited with the final product.”

Karie says she and the team at CDS have had tremendous
support from the production team and the schools that came on board.

“The timing was a bit of a challenge (the play aired at
the end of September) due to the later start for a few schools but ultimately
it worked out well. The parents were amazing – many of the cast took the script
on their annual holiday with them and learned the lines ready for a full
rehearsal schedule in August. They were flexible, willing to pitch in and help
and even gave us some great ideas!”

She sums up: “I believe the greatest testament to all the
hard work that goes into a production such as this comes when you can sit back
and enjoy it. The minute we added costumes and make-up at our technical
rehearsals the characters came to life on stage….I laughed so hard, even though
I have heard the play many
times before!”

toadSM

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