There's a strong morality behind 10 Steps to Happiness, the latest musical production put on by Whistler's LB Productions.
It grew out of the observations of the musical's creator, Anita Burleson.
"I realized that, wow, our society is really blessed, but sometimes we lose touch with what is happening with everyone else in the world, you know? Not everybody has as much as we do. It was a great opportunity to share how you can help and give back, especially with my younger kids," she says.
"The last show we did was a little showcase and we had one theme — freedom — for all the kids and classes. It was amazing. The kids weren't as aware of what freedom really meant and how fortunate we are to be in Canada."
LB Productions — which teaches dance, acting and singing — explores what makes people truly happy in a show that Burleson says is partly farce, partly serious, and uses film along with theatre to tell the tale.
"The idea for 10 Steps was kind of tongue-in-cheek because you always see these 10 steps to everything," she says.
"There's a lot of humour in the show but (also) a heavy underlying message."
The musical tells the tale of a frustrated teen (Dallen Brodowski), who is told by his friends that he lives in the greatest place. This doesn't convince him. The youngsters decide to see a guru.
"There's a lot of jokes around the guru-type guy called Obi Watanabe, poking fun at everything. He lives in a box and is supposed to present wisdom, but his box is at a suite at the Four Seasons," Burleson says.
"He tells them they have to bring proof that they've done a good deed. This is a problem because they wonder who they could possibly help in Whistler."
First, they visit Menchies Frozen Yogurt in the village, where they help people put toppings on their yogurts. That's not the sort of help that brings the most happiness, however nice the yogurt tastes, Burleson says.
"They go back to Obie and he says, 'No, you actually need to help someone.' Then they discover they can go to the food bank and help out there. One character doesn't know Whistler has a food bank," she adds.
"Ironically, I was teaching classes with my younger kids and I mentioned the food banks here. One of them didn't know what a food bank was."
Burleson adds: "They realized that helping people is cool."
With the help of filmmaker Rebecca Wood Barrett, Burleson encouraged her youngsters to donate to the food bank, located at the Whistler Community Services offices in Spring Creek and made a film about the experience. This will also be shown as part of 10 Steps to Happiness.
"I hope to do more of this, especially with our teens, to get them out in the community and get them involved. I think theatre should be used as a vehicle, not an end in itself. We should use it to educate and serve in the community," Burleson says.
10 Steps to Happiness takes place at Millennium Place on Sunday, June 7, at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $10 for children under 12. They can be purchased at the Millennium Place Box Office or at www.artswhistler.com.
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