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Theatre group finding unexpected success in small town Alberta

Click to play video: 'Claresholm Arts Society seeing theatre success'
Claresholm Arts Society seeing theatre success
A southern Alberta town is seeing lots of support for the local community theatre. Stakeholders tell Jaclyn Kucey the arts have become a part of the towns identity. – Jan 8, 2023

It’s a town well known for its agriculture and ranching, and one you often pass through travelling throughout southern Alberta. Now, its theatre scene is booming.

In 2013, the Claresholm Arts Society was formed. Production manager for musical theatre Carmelle Steele said it’s brought the community together in a new way.

“It was a huge hole in our community where we didn’t have the ability to offer this to kids in high school that wanted to be in drama,” said Steele. “We had lots of students from town going to High River and Fort MacLeod to be in musical theatre.”

Read more: Lethbridge performing arts group ends bumpy year on a high note

Now on its eighth musical production, the arts society is putting up a sold-out nine-show run of Cinderella — welcoming nearly 1,500 people to the Claresholm Community Centre.

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Stephanie King, playing Cinderella, has been involved in nearly every Claresholm Arts Society production.

“It’s amazing what a small community can do… we’re, I don’t know, 3,000 people in Claresholm, and it’s just such a great environment, everyone pulls their strengths together,” said King.

“We’ve been able to bring a variety of shows, both contemporary and older shows, to the audiences in town and it’s very well received,” added Steele.

Read more: Financial struggles impacting southern Alberta performing arts groups

One goal for the society was to give kids the opportunity to learn new skills and showcase their talents in their hometown.

“Kids need the opportunity to not be solely academic but to have some ability to be artistic. And so we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of high school kids come through our productions,” said Steele. “We have some (students) running our lighting board, we have kids who have gone on to college to do these things technically.”

More than 50 people of all ages auditioned for the cast. Music director Michelle Dedominicis said it’s rare for small-town theatre to see so much success.

“Hopefully this will be something that continues long into the future. It’s pretty exciting to have the arts in southern Alberta because there’s not a lot of it, said Dedominicis.

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