When Cheyenne Ferguson found out she got the part, she cried.
Reading the finalized cast list for Royal Bay secondary school’s rendition of Nice Work if You Can Get It, the Grade 12 student fell to the floor, her friends comforting her while she wept.
“I had practiced all summer ever since (director Melissa Young) announced what show we would be doing. I practiced every day like I needed this role. I wanted this role so bad,” she said. “I feel like I worked really hard for it, so I’m really glad I got it. I really cried, I was so excited, tears were rolling down my face.”
A former Belmont student who followed the musical theatre program to the Colwood school, Ferguson has buried herself in the program ever since, rehearsing three to five days a week as the group ramps up for a five-show run at the school’s Teechamitsa Theatre.
When she gets home, she works on it some more. She says it is a lifestyle now, one that’s changed who she is.
“Without theatre I would be sitting in the back of the class not talking. It’s crazy how much it brings out your confidence. I’m not good at anything else; before I discovered acting I was just kind of lost.”
What started with her first acting class at John Stubbs school led Ferguson to the lead role of Billie Bendix, a prohibition era bootlegger on the lookout to sell 400 cases of gin. Set amid the backdrop of the 1920s to the music of George and Ira Gershwin, Nice Work sees Bendix eventually fall in love with the wealthy Jimmy Winter, played by classmate Luke James.
The 18-year-old Colwood resident takes on the role of a playboy going on his fourth marriage, a role he, too, says has been “life changing.”
“It has given me a goal, otherwise I would just be coming to school every day and going to class – repeat, repeat, repeat,” James said. “This has given me a big end goal I can strive towards and push myself further. It’s been awesome to have this big event to look forward to; it’s finally coming to a head.”
With just over a week to go before opening night, James is hoping theatre lovers take the opportunity to see the end result of all the work the cast and crew have put in to live up to their own high standards.
This musical theatre experience is something both he and Ferguson said have taken over their lives.
“It’s the reason I wake up in the morning, to go practice theatre and to be in the theatre and to learn more and better myself,” Ferguson said. “(Before) I didn’t really feel strongly about anything, I was just floating along and now, I just have a purpose.”
Mark your calendar:
• Nice Work if You Can Get It runs April 28 to 29 and May 5 to 6 at 7 p.m. with a matinee April 30 at 2 p.m.
• Tickets are available at the Royal Bay secondary office, 3500 Ryder Hesjedal Way, or at the door.
• Cost is $12.50 for adults, $10.50 for students and seniors and $5 for School District 62 students.