The Evil Queen from Snow White (Brie-Anne MacPherson) tempts Goldilocks (Isabella Haldane) and Baby Bear (Naomi Yacyshen) in Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics and the Cirque Theatre Company’s original production of Storybook. The performance takes the stage for three shows at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday and Saturday.

This Storybook isn’t all ‘Grimm’

Young athletes from Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics and Cirque Theatre Company flit and fly between good and evil in new production.

Aladdin had his genie, Cinderella, her fairy godmother, but there’s been a few fairy-tale characters who  have been left without a guardian or guidance.

You’ll meet one of them when Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics and the Cirque Theatre Company present their latest original production, Storybook, at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre this weekend.

With her golden hair flying, her lips puckered into a sneer, and her cell phone camera constantly pointed at herself, Goldilocks isn’t exactly a model child, more like the wild child from the selfie generation.

She breaks into the bears’ home, eats their porridge and destroys their belongings, all the while dancing along to Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, The Chainsmokers’ But First, Let Me Take a Selfie, and Icono Pop’s I Don’t Care.

Then she has the nerve to take a nap in Baby Bear’s bed.

That’s how Storybook starts, as a number of famous fairytale characters, including some that have appeared in past ORG/Cirque Theatre shows, enter the picture to set Goldilocks on her path to right, or wrong.

“We are kind of following a familiar theme, that moral game between good and bad… We link all the stories so that they flow into each other,” said former Olympian Camille Martens, leader/coach of Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics and director of Storybook.

“Goldilocks has this push and pull inside of herself. It’s the same struggle we see in kids today: Who you are is a choice and you have to make that decision every day. It’s not a fate.”

Martens is also in the production, playing the Fairy Godmother, who tells Goldilocks she has to visit all the stories from the various fairytale characters to make the decision on which path she wishes to take.

Goldilocks starts her journey in Wonderland, where she meets Alice, the Mad Hatter, and all the other characters from Alice in Wonderland. She travels on to the castle with Belle from Beauty and the Beast and to Oz to meet Dorothy and friends, then to Neverland to connect with Peter Pan, to Cinderella’s lonely abode, and to where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and also Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf dwell.

Getting in the way of Goldilocks’ destiny to be a good person is the Evil Queen from Snow White, played against type by ORG coach Brie-Anne MacPherson, who, with a group of villains, including the Queen of Hearts, the  Big, Bad Wolf, and the Wicked Witch of the West, attempt to sway Goldilocks away from righteousness.

“We’re using modern culture, such as selfies, where everything becomes self-centred and about what we have rather than what’s the right thing to do,” said MacPherson.

“The evil side is manipulating Goldilocks, asking her ‘do you choose the candy or the inner candy?’” added Martens.

The young gymnasts and performers, who are mostly female and range in age from five on up to their late teens/early 20s, are also getting that message.

“The kids get what’s wrong with that self-centeredness. They also know what pop songs go along with certain feelings such as apathy and what’s negative,” said Martens.

And as in all ORG/Cirque Theatre shows, the young and very flexible athletes get to show their prowess with not only floor routines, dance, and acrobatics, but also with juggling and twirling all kinds of props including ribbons, balls, hoops and clubs in what is always a colourful and awe striking spectacle.

There are also some exceptional athletes in the show, including national team members Jessica Krushen and Megan Hamilton, as the Big Bad Wolf and Snow White, respectively, while 11-year-old Isabella Haldane, a national finalist at the novice level last year, plays Goldilocks. Tagging along for the journey is Naomi Yacyshen, 10, a gold medalist from the Western Canadian championships, as Baby Bear.

“Some of our athletes will start international competition in January,” said Martens, adding a number of parents are also participating in the production.

“Rhythmic gymnastics is mostly a girls’ sport, so it’s easy to involve moms, but it’s hard to have dads have that connection with their daughters in the sport. The show brings them in. We have them in the gym doing the tech stuff, and they can actually experience it first hand. Some of them even act in the show.”

Then there are the team of volunteers sewing costumes, under the direction of lead costumer Trina Montie, and helping with the choreography, staging, design and more.

Local theatre expert Dave Brotsky has once again worked his magic to build the sets and design the lighting, and is helping in other valuable ways, said Martens.

“Theatre is not our background, the performing arts part of it is,” she said “(Brotsky) helps step in and move us in the right direction without compromising our vision. He is so exceptional and teaches us about lighting, staging and making the storyline seamless.”

The end result can be seen when Storybook takes to the stage at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Ticket Seller box office, at, or by calling 250-549-7469.


Vernon Morning Star

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