Thursday, 15 December 2016

Rosebud's Young Company: Hannah Andersen & Kaia Wilson

This week we’re talking with actresses Hannah Andersen and Kaia Wilson, currently making their debuts on the Rosebud stage alternating the role of Susan Walker in 'Miracle on 34th Street.' Hannah is in Grade 3 and in her spare time you can find her horseback riding, playing with her animals, or spending time with her family. Kaia is 8 years old, born and raised in Rosebud, and has always had a strong love of theatre. She was first inspired to act when she saw Rosebud’s 2013 production of ‘Chickens’.  

Tim Dixon and Hannah Andersen in Rosebud's Miracle on 34th Street. Photo by Morris Ertman.

Is this your first show?
Hannah: Yes, this is my first show.
Kaia: Mm hm. First I’ve ever done on the Rosebud Theatre stage.

What was your favorite part about rehearsal?
H: My favorite part of rehearsal was the reaction from all my fellow cast mates when they realized I was already off-book at first read-through.
K: I don’t know. Probably some of the run-throughs at the church. But then coming here [to the actual stage] I got super surprised with all the stuff, it was so different from the stuff in the church.

What do you like best about your character?
K: Oh, that’s a hard question.
H: I like the journey of being a girl who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus to becoming the little girl who does.

Kaia Wilson and Tim Dixon's 'Monkey Business'. Photo by Morris Ertman.
Do you have a favorite line or scene?
H: My favorite line is where I yell at Mr. Gailey for being late to Thanksgiving dinner.
K: Probably the monkey business. That’s what we call it. Favorite line? I think probably I like the lines in the first scene and the second scene. It’s kind of hard to find out which one I like most, because I like most of my lines.

Do you ever get nervous?
H: I did get nervous at the beginning but I would pray and everything would be great… and now I still pray but don’t get as nervous… unless it’s someone I know sitting in the front row. Then I just work hard at not smiling.
K: No. Well, the first time, yes, I was a bit nervous. But now I’m not. Half of the run through on the first [show] was nervous for me. The second time I liked it and I wasn’t nervous anymore.

Has there been a funny moment in performance?
K: Once my hat fell offstage. It fell on the floor when I was talking to Kris Kringle about school. So, the first time Santa Claus picked it up and put in on the chair, and then it fell off again, but the second time it rolled OFF the stage. One of the people in the audience that was in the front row picked it up and put it on stage. And I picked it up while I was passing through.

Do you believe in Santa?
K: Yes!
Sure do!

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition?
H: Celebrating with my whole family!
K: Eating a turkey dinner. Also I like opening the presents.

What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?
K: Maybe Gingerbread cookies, but I also like Ginger Snaps. But I also like sugar cookies.
H: Gingerbread.

What’s a show (or character) you’d like to play someday?
H: I would like to be Lucy from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
K: Hmm. I think one of the characters in The Sound of Music. I don’t think I’d be young enough for Gretl, but I forget the name of the girl between Liesl and Gretl. Marta, I think it was Marta.

What advice would you give kids who want to act?
H: That’s a hard one, as this is my first role.
K: It’s really fun, but also, on the first day it can be pretty hard to do, because there’s so many people watching you. Just pretend it’s a rehearsal, that’s what I usually do.

What do you want for Christmas?
H: I would love a sweater with thumb holes.
K: There are a few things I’m asking for: a Zoomer Puppy and a Zoomer Monkey, and an E-Z bake Oven with lots of food mix, a china tea set, and a doll.

Lastly, is there anything next for you, coming up?
H: I will be focusing a lot of my attention on my new pony Kiwi! She’s great!
K: On Tuesday is our opening for our school show. I’m being an angel. We get to dance around pretty green ribbons and stuff. There’s a show in the show called Goldie and the Wise Guys, but the whole thing is called Unplugged Christmas.
I’m also thinking about recording a CD sometime… I’ve written one song, and I need to finish my other song. My mom might help with her friends Alix and Lauren. [a.k.a., the Dearhearts]. But yeah.

There’s only another week or so to catch Hannah and Kaia performing as the endearing Susan Walker in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, playing on the Rosebud stage until December 23. Weekends are largely sold out, but select weekday matinees and weeknights are still available. For ticket availability and information, visit

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Director's Chair - Paul Muir talks 'Miracle on 34th Street'

Paul Muir returns to our Mainstage, reprising his directing role after last year’s ‘Mass Appeal'. Previous Rosebud Theatre directing credits include ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, ‘Tuesdays With Morrie’, and ‘The Homecoming’. His BMO Studio Stage productions ‘Confessions of a Paperboy’ and ‘Underneath the Lintel’ played to sold out audiences and were remounted on the West Coast at Chemainus Theatre Festival and Pacific Theatre. No stranger to the spotlight; selected acting credits include ‘Outside Mullingar’, ‘Our Town’, ‘Man of La Mancha’, ‘Voice of the Prairie’, and ‘Billy Bishop Goes to War’. Education Director for Rosebud School of the Arts and resident company member for Rosebud Theatre, Paul holds an M.F.A. in directing from York University, and a B.A. with specialization from the University of Alberta. He served as artist-in-residence at Trinity Western University in 2014, and has worked as a professional actor and director for various theatre companies across Canada. 

Rosebud Theatre
Paul Muir in action. Photo by Kelsey Krogman.

First of all, had you seen the original 'Miracle on 34th Street' movie before directing Rosebud's production?
Yes, I saw the original 1947 film with Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle and Maureen O’Hara as Doris Walker when I was young. Maybe 11 or 12? I remember having a similar reaction to it as I did with watching the original It’s a Wonderful Life. I was totally taken with the sentiment of both those classics. I remember being significantly moved by both films. I loved them!

How does the classic Christmas film figure into directing a staged version? Do you use the original for reference, or reinterpret everything?  
I haven’t actually seen the original film for years. I did watch a couple of scenes on YouTube just to remind me of certain things while working on this show, but I didn’t really use it as any kind of reference. Mostly I took what was on the page, and tried to find a way to tell this story in a way that would flow from scene to scene. This adaptation by Caleb Marshall was written for a very different kind of theatre than what we have here in Rosebud, so there are always some [interpretive] challenges in finding a way to translate the story for the Opera House.

What surprised you about the story as you spent more time in the world?
Well, I must say I continued to fall deeper and deeper in love with all these characters as they came to life with this cast. I could not have imagined a better person to play Kris Kringle. When Morris and I were going through potential actors for that role we went through a number of names, and then Morris suggested Tim, and that was that. The choice was obvious. He’s perfect! I can’t imagine a better person for Kris Kringle.

Rosebud Theatre
Paul gives rehearsal notes - while wearing sandals on a snowflake. Photo by Jordan Cutbill.
Is this a play about belief in Santa, or something more?
Well, of course so much more. We talked a lot in rehearsal about the importance of belief, of the competition between consumerism and the true meaning of Christmas, and the need for a sense of “home” and “family” in our lives. Hope is a big theme in this play, and how we must never give up. This story is about the miracle of belief. I think my favourite line in the play is "Faith is believing in things even when common sense tells you not to." It’s about a little girl being given the miracle of a home and a family. It’s about the miracle of a single-mother revealing her true heart. It’s about the miracle of a young lawyer discovering where his real gifts lie in the legal field. And about the miracle of a simple store helper discovering his true calling as “deputy" Santa!

Did you believe in Santa, growing up?
Of course I did - I still do! The idea of Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Pere Noel, Saint Nicolas, being an embodiment of the heart of Christ is SO important to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Is there anything significant about the time period (late 1940’s) the story is set in?
I must say, one thing that really struck me about this story was what it meant in its time. Imagine a story in 1947 of a single mother and career woman with a very significant role and set of responsibilities at Macy’s Department Store. Doris is in charge of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as being Mr. Macy’s second in command. That’s huge! And fantastic! Also, Fred is portrayed as a pretty "sensitive guy" in many ways. His sensibilities are much more "now" than 1947. It's quite refreshing.

In addition,  I think it was very bold to tell a story like this in the wake of WWII... the importance of a story about belief was timely. And it's just as timely now. 

Morris Ertman
The courtroom cast: Miracle on 34th Street from the screen to the stage. Photo by Morris Ertman.
You’re not only the director of this show, but the Education Director of Rosebud School of the Arts. How does belief play a factor in being an artist?
Well, who I am as a person of Faith, as a person who tries to follow the teachings of Christ, and who I am as an artist, is really indivisible. My Faith and my desire to be a Storyteller often feel one-and-the-same. My Faith informs everything I do in some way. And as Education Director at RSA of course that becomes a big part of my teaching, and planning, and even my administration work. It’s all to purpose. It’s all mission-driven if you will.

Were there unexpected moments in rehearsal?
I loved working with the children in this show. We have two wonderful little girls playing the role of Susan Walker (Kaia Wilson & Hannah Andersen) – they each take a few shows per week… and a great young guy playing the little boys’ roles (Asher Eliuk). They were all surprisingly fabulous to work with. I remember giving a note to Kaia one day about her character, and she responded with something like, “Yes. I know. I feel so close to Susan Walker. I understand that she wants a family and a home. I feel like I could almost be Susan Walker!” Well, that’s how actors talk. Here she is, as a 9-year-old, talking like an experienced actor. It was delightful.

Do you have a favorite holiday movie?
Hmmm… I’ll give you a few. It’s a Wonderful Life, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Love Actually, and of course – Miracle on 34th Street.

What’s your favorite Christmas treat?
Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, and my Mum's Creamy Celery!

What are you most looking forward to this Christmas Season?
Well, to be honest, I’m looking forward to taking a break. It’s been a busy term. [understatement]

The family friendly, heartwarming, belief-inducing & inspirational 'Miracle on 34th Street' plays now until December 23rd. Weekends are largely sold out, but there are several weekday matinee and evening performances still available. For tickets and information, visit