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Okotoks players put flashy spin on classic tale

Goodger-Pink Family Theatre presenting Frontrunner Fable: A Tortoise and Hare Story outdoors at Drake Landing soccer fields.
SCENE-Goodger-Pink Tortoise n Hare BWC 0138 web
(Left to right) Samantha Bell (playing Toby Tortoise), Jess Parker (Penelope Porcupine) Daniel Rose (Monty Moose) and Anne-Marie Cotton (Harriet Hare) pose during rehearsal on June 12 for Goodger-Pink Family Theatre's production of "Frontrunner Fable: A Tortoise and Hare Story". The play is directed by Katie Fournell and written by Charlotte Nixon.

An Okotoks children's theatre troupe is adding flash, humour and neon to an old tale.

Bringing its own style to Frontrunner Fable: A Tortoise and Hare Story, Goodger-Pink Family Theatre will present seven performances of the show outdoors in Okotoks beginning June 24.

Written by playwright Charlotte Nixon, it tells the story two friends that take part in what starts as a friendly race.

“We meet Toby and Harriet, they’re best friends, and they’re really excited to be running in this race,” said Samantha Bell, founder of Goodger-Pink, who plays the titular tortoise Toby.

“They get more and more competitive, they’re used to joking around, but it kind of gets more serious and competitive.”

Bringing some of that competitive energy is Harriet the Hare, played by Anne-Marie Cotton.

“She’s kind of a tomboy and loves to hang out with her best friend Toby and gets a little competitive partway through the race and starts being kind of mean without realizing she’s getting mean,” Cotton said.

The Okotoks actor has acted in various plays by Dewdney Players, most recently I Take This Man, but this will be her first time with the Goodger-Pink.

“It’s definitely high energy, because it’s a kids' show,” said Cotton. “It’s been so much fun, it’s fun to be really big and really crazy in that way.”

With the show channeling ‘90s fitness TV vibes a’la Body Break, Cotton thinks the aesthetic will be just as fun for the adults.

“It’s all very ‘90s, like the colours and things like that, that part might go over the kids' heads, but a lot of parents will be like, ‘Oh yeah.’” Cotton said. “Things like headbands, wrist bands and whatever, so that’s going to be lots of fun.”

Her experience with the troupe and the change of scenery has been an adventure she’s happy to embark upon.

“It’s the first time really working with Sam and (director) Katie Fournell, and seeing how they put everything together,” Cotton said. “Because it’s a touring show, like to Calgary and stuff, just having that experience of being outside and in different venues, it’s a flexible kind of thing, but you are at the mercy of the elements.”

She also found the ingenuity and craft put into the set pieces was striking.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, with what Katie and Joe (Fowler) have made, like the trees and props,” Cotton said. “I've never seen anything like it. It’s just amazing to me, just incredible creativity and talent there.

“Every time they would come in with something new, it’s like, ‘Oh my god, what have you made?'”

Joining her are Jess Parker and Daniel Rose, who both play an ensemble of characters, along with Bell, who is thrilled with her cast.

“This cast fits so perfectly with the characters that you feel like the script was written to the characters," Bell said.

“There’s the mayor of Forestville who’s this hangry bear that's just woken up from hibernation, we have two moose ‘animal trainer to the stars.’"

The vibrant setting is one she relished in creating with her team.

“Everything is larger than life. Everything is very bright and fun,” Bell said. “We’ve created this world where we all live in Forestville."

While at the mercy of the elements, it more than pays off for Bell to be outdoors with her young audience.

“It’s so fun being out there and with the kids, and it’s nice because any age can come to it,” she said.

As with many in the theatre company's long track record of family shows, there will be a positive message for kids to take away.

“There’s sort of a moral of the story that we’re keeping our eye on the real prize, which is friendship, supporting each other and not getting too wrapped up in the winning,” Bell said.

The name Goodger-Pink, Bell added, was that of her grandmother who was an actor in England.

All ages are welcome and admission is ‘pay what you can’ with a suggested ticket price of $10.

Show times in Okotoks are at 6:30 p.m. June 24-25 and July 1-2 and 2 p.m. on June 25-26 and July 3. Performances take place at the northwest soccer field at 45 Drake Landing Dr. In the event of poor weather, performances will be held at the Alberta Dance Academy at 4 Crystal Ridge Dr.  

For more information call 403-771-3504 or find Goodger-Pink Family Theatre on Facebook and Instagram.

Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Western Wheel newspaper covering Okotoks and the Foothills region.
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