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Vision Theatre raises bar

Auditions have wrapped up for Cochrane Vision Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast and the production is playing a full deck of cards.

Auditions have wrapped up for Cochrane Vision Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast and the production is playing a full deck of cards.

“The general quality of performers this year is going to really bring the whole standard up higher,” said Lucy Mills, co-director of this year’s play.

Mark Norris, playing Beast, is a classically trained singer, but brings a high level of cohesion when it comes to working with the cast.

“He’s great for teamwork. It’s like most things – you can have brilliant people whether it’s at work or in a show or a band, but if they don’t work as a team it doesn’t work.”

Mills said Norris had first demonstrated his inherently collaborative nature in helping the theatre company’s youth performance program by teaching the younger thespians harmonies.

“He’s not a prima donna; when you hear him sing, he should be a prima donna, but he doesn’t let that influence him.”

It was at the Texas Gate’s karaoke night that Mills happened to catch Norris belting out Josh Groban. Norris’ rendition apparently did the trick.

“The minute I heard him sing, I was like ‘I want him in the show.”

Elysse Bailey will bring Belle, or Beauty, to life. Reliable and committed were the words that came to Mills mind when describing Bailey.

Mills expressed she brings a wide variety of performances under her belt, whether supporting in the chorus, the second half of a comedy duo, or playing a small boy tending to a cow.

“She is well and truly run the gauntlet to earn her place as princess this year.”

Mills said that audience should enjoy the onstage chemistry Bailey and Norris will bring Beauty and the Beast due to their kindheartedness and flexibility, but also mixed in with true professionalism.

Richard Milton will play Felix, the giant French poodle, and Mills expressed Milton would bring a certain level creative malleability that should make for an interesting take on the pooch.

In place of the Evil Witch is Holly Meriam, who as Mills described was an exceedingly good comedienne and powerful voice.

Beauty’s sister will be played by Elizabeth Nystrom, who has seen screen time playing bit parts in the Canadian war film Passchendaele and CBC’s Alberta-shot western series Heartland.

Many of the other parts will be incorporated as villagers and wildlife but will pull double duty as the furniture and fixtures – Mills has even created a comedic duo of chandeliers.

From last year’s casino funding they were able to buy new scenery curtains and PA system with microphones. With a similar source funding again, they’re hoping to purchase digital lighting.

Mills said their biggest need now is to assemble a production crew “that are as reliable as doing backstage as we have reliable actors.

“Obviously actors are very important but we need a crew of people that will be willing to be our backstage people.”

Mills said anyone who can use a computer could do the lighting or the microphones. Production gets underway the first week of September.

The positions are volunteer-based. Anyone with an interest in technical theatre arts is asked to contact Mills at 403-688-2973 or visit the website at