LB Productions' latest musical theatre piece is a continuation of a children's classic.
Around the World in 79 Days is a new show by LB Productions. It is an original production based on Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne; the show has a couple of well-known pop songs and the rest were written by Anita Burleson, LB Production's executive director.
"What has morphed is that we're doing original musicals, and lots of them. I'm really passionate about that," says Burleson.
"When you write the story yourself, you can incorporate whatever group of kids you have and try to use the talents they already have in the show. If you're doing Annie Get Your Gun, there's only one Annie."
Burleson explains that while LB Productions shows have always brought in original elements, she hopes to take it further.
She has used this in their new program of touring shows, which goes to new locations, works with youngsters and puts on an original show.
"That's the direction I'm heading in," she says.
Around the World in 79 Days is family friendly and takes place at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Sunday, June 5, at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, and can be purchased at www.artswhistler.com.
The story opens in the present day, as young Phileas fights the great-grandson of the original villain.
"(The bad guy) dares him to go around the world in under 80 days without using modern technology. He takes the bet; they head around the world and he encounters all sorts of crazy obstacles. There are lot of twists in the story — I include a lot of well-known characters who aren't from the original story," Burleson says.
With the theme being "around the world" the song styles are influenced by the locations the characters visit, including India. The song "All Around the World" by Justin Bieber also makes an appearance.
Fifty of Burleson's students appear in the show.
"They're from all of our classes, our hip-hop class in Pemberton, our musical theatre in Pemberton and Whistler," she says.
In the past, Burleson has created youth singing groups as part of her program, as well. The new one, the Black Diamonds, is mixed boys and girls.
"They sing in harmony and will do a beautiful rendition of (Simon and Garfunkel's) 'Scarborough Fair.' And I've got one girl who's really got a great voice, who will be singing 'New York State of Mind' for when the story goes to New York'," Burleson says.
They also have a young musician, 11-year-old harpist Caroline O'Connor.
"There are no adults in the show this time, in the past we've had them," says Burleson.
"This one is entirely cute little kids."
The youngsters provide the inspiration for the shows and sometimes help write the music, too, she adds.
"They have such a plethora of great ideas. I really enjoy the writing process and it is something I always wanted to do. And there is the logical standpoint that if you own the whole thing, you don't have to worry," Burleson explains.
"If you got Oklahoma you'd have to pay for the book, and I don't like to do the same thing that everyone is doing."
LBP Entertainment is also offering camps over the summer for children and teens aged five to 18, in conjunction with Arts Whistler and Orkidz Art Studio.
"We're doing these camps for musical theatre and art," Burleson says.
"The kids will create the sets, and sometimes costumes and props. At the end of the week we do a mini-show. We did one during Spring Break that was probably the best one we've done yet. It was an April Fool's show.
"We also have a tween/teen film and acting camp with filmmaker Rebecca Wood Barrett. The kids get to (write a) script and do their own little films. They have a blast."
Camps are also being offered in Pemberton and Lillooet.
So all in all, this means LB Productions is a very busy place.
"Our feet don't touch the ground, we've been running and running and doing stuff!" Burleson agrees.
For more information on the show or on programs, visit www.lbpentertainment.com.
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