The students in the Timberline Musical Theatre program are rehearsing this year’s production, Once Upon a Mattress, three days per week after school in preparation for next month’s virtual performances. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Timberline’s popular musical goes online for 2021

Once Upon a Mattress will be streamed right to your living room thanks to school's AV department

The show must go on, as they say.

And for the students in the Timberline Secondary musical theatre program, that old idiom has never rung more true than this year.

The cast and crew of this year’s production has been at work on the play, as in previous years, since early in the first semester of the school year, not knowing whether they’d actually be able to perform for the community at all. But the rehearsals continued anyway, just as they would any other year, hoping they would figure out a way for people to enjoy their hard work eventually.

And they did. It’ll be live streamed over the internet.

“We have been working hard and we’re going to put the musical on, no matter what,” says musical director Celine Ouellette. “Being involved in this kind of stuff, for some kids, is what makes it worthwhile to come to school. So while it was a hard decision to still do it, we decided it was important to just work around some stuff and get it going. It’s an important experience for the kids.”

Of course, part of that experience will be missing this year as it heads out into the world and onto people’s computer screens instead of bringing them to the school theatre. There’s just something about having a live audience that makes a musical special, after all.

“We’re still working on seeing if maybe, possibly, we could have a small audience, but that’s not a given yet. If we don’t have anybody there, there is an energy missing, for sure. It’s going to be hard to get them pumped up, but we’ll do our best,” she says with a laugh.

This year’s performance is called Once Upon a Mattress, which is a remake of the old Hans Christian Andersen tale, The Princess and the Pea, written by Mary Rogers – the daughter of Richard Rogers (of Rogers and Hammerstein fame).

“It’s quite funny,” Ouellette says, “and the kids have been working really hard on it. They rehearse for two hours, three after-schools per week, and it’s going to be amazing.”

The performances are scheduled for March 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 starting at 7 p.m.

Students and seniors can watch the performances for $12, adults gain access for $15, or a whole family can watch for $40.

Tickets are available at or you can find any of the posters around town and scan the QR code to go directly to the booking site right from your phone.

“When you buy a ticket, you are sent a code, and then the night of the performance you can just go to the website and access the show,” she says.

The revenue from ticket sales is actually really important for the program to remain sustainable, so Ouellette hopes people still pay to “attend” the performance this year.

“We always have a good crowd other years,” she says, “but I don’t know how people will take to this whole virtual thing. We’re kind of worried about that side of things, because we have to pay for the rights and things to do these sorts of shows.”

She does have confidence, however, in the technical aspects how the performance will get into people’s living rooms so they can enjoy the show.

“We’re working with the AV department, and they tell me it’s no problem,” she says. “They will have three cameras working on it, and we’ll figure out how to get the right people mic’d when they need to be and all that. I guess this year’s performance shows that you really can teach on old dog new tricks,” she says.

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