Rehearsing is a blast and she has never laughed so much in all her life, Edwards tells Gary Smith.
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Katie Edwards grew up watching her mom and dad act on local theatre stages.
“I have so many memories of watching them rehearse when I was quite young. I watched them in awe, feeling so proud to be related to them.”
Along the way, she just knew she would have to find her own place on a theatre stage one day.
“After watching my parents perform, it meant so much for me to follow in their footsteps. My parents’ passion for theatre greatly impacted my need to pursue a professional career in the arts.
“I had been a very busy kid. My parents enrolled me in children’s programs at Theatre Aquarius and at Student Theatre in Burlington. These were great, but my real joy was actually being on stage. My first show was in Village Theatre Waterdown in1997. It was called ‘Clowns.’ I was nine years old.
“By the time I got to high school, the stage was one of the few places I felt calm and confident.”
For Edwards, performing is a gateway to freedom.
“It gives me a creative outlet and allows me to escape my own reality and play characters that I admire. I love playing strong, courageous, intelligent characters and I hope they empower young girls in the audience, as much as they have empowered me.”
Edwards is getting ready to put on another princess dress and help Jack fight the giant in Port Dover’s Lighthouse Theatre production of “Jack and the Beanstalk.”
“It’s a pantomime and some people aren’t quite familiar with what that means. It’s not a silent mime show. It’s a musical comedy that includes singing and dancing, topical jokes and stock characters. It’s typically based on a well-known fairytale. Pantos are great fun because they provide dual entertainment for children and adults, by incorporating double entendres and adult humour into a children’s story. It’s also a form of participation theatre. The audience is encouraged to boo and heckle the villain, shout out to the performers, and sing along with some of the songs. I can’t wait to get in front of an audience with this show because they are such a big part of what happens.”
Edwards says rehearsing is a blast and she has never laughed so much in all her life.
“Working in the theatre is a challenge,” Edwards says. “It’s challenging to earn enough from theatre work alone. Some years all my money came from theatre contracts but I wasn’t able to save for my future. It took me a while but I realized I have many different passions and I didn’t have to choose just one of them. I went back to school 10 years ago to study sociology and women’s studies at York University. Since then, I have worked as a choreographer, director, drama and mindfulness teacher, theatre workshop facilitator and fundraiser. I’ve even written a few shows. Right after graduation I was asked to co-write the university’s orientation play on consent, which was a wonderful way for me to combine my education in women’s studies and theatre.”
Edwards has starred in “Anne” at Theatre Orangeville, playing Anne of Green Gables. She has played Grace in Rum Runners at Port Dover and was in Ross Petty’s Toronto pantomime “The Wizard of Oz.”
“That one was my intro to panto,” Edwards says. “They are probably my favourite type of show to perform in.”
Edwards is philosophical about life and the arts world she inhabits.
“I took a break from acting for several years to gain experience in other fields. I’ve stayed connected to theatre by teaching drama and mindfulness classes at Forma Theater in Toronto. When COVID-19 hit, I felt very fortunate to have a stable job, as the pandemic was particularly challenging for actors.”
“Two years ago, my partner and I moved to Hamilton and we had our beautiful son Jamie. I love being a mom more than anything, but it does make it challenging. Almost every gig I’ve landed has been outside the city I’ve lived in. Of course, right now I’m living in Port Dover and I can only see my two-year-old on weekends. But, from the moment I was asked to be involved in this show I had to say yes. I just couldn’t turn it down. And I am so excited for my son to see the show and to have him watch me up there on the stage the way I used to watch my mom and dad when I was little.”
Jack and the Beanstalk — The Panto
Where Lighthouse Festival Theatre, 247 Main St., Port Dover
When Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1-9 at 7:30 p.m., matinees Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 2-3 and 5, 7, 8, 9. at 2 p.m.
Tickets From $34 adults. Children and students under 18 from $30. Call 1-888-779-7703 or lighthousetheatre.com
Gary Smith has written about theatre and dance for The Hamilton Spectator for 40 years as well as for a variety of international publications. email@example.com.