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Sep. 24, 2021 | Friday
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Yellow Door working on film production 'Misfits'
A still from “Dead Reckoning” by Scott Christian and Lezlie Wade, a previous work by the creative duo. (Supplied)

In the past six years the young actors at Virgil's Yellow Door Theatre Project have put on many stage performances, but this summer they are producing their first musical film, called "Misfits."

Fourteen talented teens were chosen out of more than 30 who auditioned virtually from all over Ontario.

“The auditions were fantastic. The kids were so talented,” said Lezlie Wade, the film’s writer and director.

 “If I could have written this show for all of them, I would have, but within a certain period of time you can only write so many (songs).”

"Misfits" tells the story of a group of teenage girls who relive their four years of high school at their graduation.

“It seems sort of fortuitous,” said Wade, “because some of these kids haven’t been able to have their graduation. So, in a way, we’re giving them a theatrical graduation.”

Scott Christian is writing the songs but, just like the script, they’re still a work in progress, as Wade is creating characters and a story specifically tailored to the chosen cast.

“We’re looking for an opportunity for the audience to maybe get a bit more of an idea of how difficult it is for kids at this particular time, as well as for it to be cathartic for the kids (involved),” said Wade.

Yellow Door Theatre Project is a charitable organization that provides young people with skill training and live theatre performance opportunities.

Andorlie Hillstrom, its artistic director, hopes the latest project will be a beacon of hope for the teenagers involved.

“Our teens, in particular, have suffered from the effects of COVID-19 and the lack of peer activities and support groups,” said Hillstrom.

“I believe that this film will motivate, provide a strong education and mentoring component and be a positive mental wellness arts activity for teen performers.”

The switch from theatre to film was prompted by pandemic restrictions that make it more difficult to stage live performances and have in-person rehearsals.

But Hillstrom said she thinks Yellow Door has gained from the pandemic.

“Initially it was scary (and) frustrating, but the pivots that we made perhaps forced us to move into digital areas we wouldn’t have otherwise,” noting the organization intends to keep up its digital program even after the pandemic is over.

Although they haven’t shot it yet, "Misfits" has already booked its premiere for April 2022 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines.

This June, the cast will rehearse the musical numbers virtually, with shooting commencing in July on several yet-to-be-determined locations across Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Because of COVID-19, safety protocols will have to be followed at all times on set, often spacing out the actors to create the illusion that they’re together on camera.

“Even though we’re all in separate places, the great thing about film is when you put it all together it looks like we’re all together," said Wade. "There’s something kind of magical about that.”