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Dreamcoat's Finding Nemo Jr. on stage Friday

'Most of the show is songs. There are very short scenes which is great for kids who are coming to the show as well. It'll keep them really entertained.'

Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.                  


In November of 1998, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was brought to life on stage at West Ferris Secondary School in the very first production Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre presented in North Bay. That was followed by The Hobbit in June of 1999 and every year since (aside from a few years during the COVID-19 pandemic) this organization has been dedicated to providing a musical theatre experience for children and families in the North Bay area with the primary focus being “Theatre for Children by Children.”  

The organization produces up to four shows per year, involving children from ages 5 to 14 as well as one adult/family show.  

The latest offering, Finding Nemo Jr., will debut on stage for the public at the Capitol Centre Friday, January 26th, 2024, at 7pm – with two shows to follow on Saturday. 

5th grader Isaiah Jobin plays the lead character Nemo while 6th grader Eve Laframboise plays Nemos overprotective and paranoid parent Marlin.  

Although they are both young Jobin and Laframboise can be considered veterans of the Dreamcoat program, with this being in the 4th play Laframboise is participating in, acting in Disney’s Descendants and Matilda.  

“I like being involved with Dreamcoat because I really click with a lot of the people here,” she says. “It is better than just hanging out at home and being bored, and it gives you something to look forward to when you’re in school.”  

Jobin was also in those local plays and says, “I started singing and dancing when I was two years old and my grandmother introduced me to Dreamcoat and I’ve been involved in the last couple of plays.” 

He adds, “I watched the movie a lot when I was younger. What I like about playing Nemo is that I get to act like a five-year-old who gets to overcome his fears and show that you can’t be afraid to try new things.”  

Laframboise says she’s enjoying the role of Marlin.  

“I watched the movie a lot when I was younger as well and I like playing Marlin because I get to be goofy on stage and act with my friends. I also like how Marlin screams a lot and he’s scared all of the time, because I’m not like that at all and so I get to really test my acting.” 

This show is based not only on the Disney - Pixar film Finding Nemo, but the stage play at Walt Disney World, where there are songs added to the show.  

Jobin says, “Doing this musical is fun as there’s a lot of songs back-to-back and they are all upbeat songs and so I think people are really going to enjoy it. It is a lot of fun.  

Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre relies heavily on volunteers to assist with all aspects of the show, including fundraising, set building/painting, prop making, backstage duties and more.  

That includes Jay Lynch, who is the Stage Manager and as a Dreamcoat Fantasy Theatre Alumni, she says she loves being involved in these productions.  

“No matter what play or musical it is, the fall productions for Dreamcoat are amazing to be involved in because of the scale of them and the number of kids that we get coming out. It is also really fun to pick a Disney movie because we get newer kids who might have a familiar property to relate to and it is the best way for them to jump into theater. They get to mimic characters that they know and are familiar with and that gives them their best chance to, get up the nerve to go up on this stage for the first time.” 

Riley Beam is the shows choreographer, and she has been involved in Dreamcoat for her entire life.  

“I was five years old when I started working on these shows. It wasn’t even a question of whether I would do it, it was more of a question of ‘how can I help out?.’ It’s really nice being back with a large group and seeing this many kids on stage for the first time.”  

Beam adds some kids and parents don’t fully understand the scale of the production until they get in the theatre themselves.  

“They might be thinking of a small scale production and I don't think they realize until they get here how big our shows are. We've got so many wonderful costumes and set pieces and tech elements and we're really giving them a great professional experience,” she says.  

There are 82 kids participating in this year's show and Beam says that proves that Dreamcoat is becoming a popular activity in North Bay. 

“We we want to provide the opportunity for as many kids as possible to participate because it's teaching them such great life skills that hopefully they will look back with fondness on their memories of Youth Theatre.” 

Beam echos Jobin’s sentiments about the music being very quick and up beat, keeping audiences engaged.  

“Most of the show is songs. There are very short scenes which is great for kids who are coming to the show as well. It'll keep them really entertained. There's not long dialogue that they have to sit through,” she says. 

Director Darren Summersby is also a program alumnus, and he says the quick scenes and fast pacing of the songs makes directing this play an interesting challenge.  

“Having a great choreographer to work with helps with a show like this. Riley and I grew up through this program so it's nice to have that relationship with the choreographer to talk through how we're going to transition from the scene into the song and mix everything together. It's nice as a director too, because I feel like I can stand back more during those musical moments and focus on how we work on these other parts of the play,” says Summersby.  

Summersby says they mainly rehearse in a gymnasium but they also get to use the Capitol Centre stage which he says helps the students who may be new to the program get that experience being in that setting for the first time.  

“To come here (the Capitol Centre) and to add a set, all these costumes, microphones, lights, that's the biggest jump for them (the newcomers) and I think that is what gets them hooked, too, is when they see all of that and they realize the caliber of what we’re really doing here.”  

The plot has the story mostly taking place underwater in the ocean, and inside a fish tank and as Stage Manager, Lynch says there are a lot of steps involved to differentiating those two settings on stage.  

“A lot of lighting techniques is important to that process. It’s also exciting to all of us, trying to come up with set pieces to correlate to the movie, but also translate it onto the stage. It’s a really fun concept to go from a dynamic ocean scene to scenes ‘inside’ a fish tank.”  

There will also be two shows put on just for area school kids before the public performances and Summersby says that is where they also hope to generate extra interest and excitement for future productions.  

“It's crazy what you see on the stage, and you appreciate all the hours put in by all the volunteers for the sets and the costumes and everything. I think that shows the kids what other opportunities there are and that theater can be taken more seriously here too and we have kids coming up to us after every show asking if they can be involved in the next one.” 

This is the 25th anniversary of Dreamcoat productions and Summersby says, “There’s kind of this level and standard that we have set, and I think it makes lot of people want to join.” 

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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