The Happy Prince
by Erin Fagan
The seven members of the 2002 Charlottetown Festival Young Company (Craig Fair, Sean Hauk, Leah Johnston, Lisa Lennox, Cliff Sardinha, Shawna Van Omme, and Dina Young), have acquired a devoted following this past summer. Case in point: just before my interview, a small legion of giggling kids tracked down their idols into the green room of the Confederation Centre, a solid fifteen minutes after the noon-hour performance of The Happy Prince ended. Their mission: autographs
The autograph-clamouring "groupies" might be a novelty, but the stage is certainly not foreign to these professional and dynamically talented young performers. In addition to a thrice-weekly outdoor show (a delightful musical adapted by Leslie Arden from an Oscar Wilde fairytale), each of them is featured in one or more other productions. Twenty-three year old Sean Hauk, for example, is playing Gilbert Blythe in this year's Anne of Green Gables-The Musical, as well as another featured character in The Legend of the Dumbells musical. His cast mates have had equally demanding schedules throughout their four months in Charlottetown.
Lisa Lennox, a current Sheridan College Musical Theatre Performance student, portrays a happy-go-lucky swallow who befriends a seemingly perfect, yet aggrieved, gold-leafed statue in a town's square. Her vibrant soprano voice, reminiscent of birdsong in this role, accompanies a playful treatment of the bird's spritely character.
Craig Fair, in turn, plays the statue of a once decadent prince who, now able to witness the suffering and poverty throughout the town, is unable to physically help those he sees. The swallow becomes diverted from its migration to Egypt through various generous acts at the statue's behest (influenced through Fair's rich, commanding voice). Each episode of selfless kindness has its own story within the larger frame of the tale, and the other cast members are able to shift through a range of characters, dances, and songs.
Fair himself is not a stranger to the Charlottetown Festival: He was also one of the "Children of Avonlea" in Anne of Green Gables, having graduated into becoming one of the "big kids" this season. A highlight of The Happy Prince is the step-dancing that he, Cliff and Sean showcase during a fast-paced dockside song.
All of the performers have found the Charlottetown Festival Company to have been one of the best, and certainly the tightest, which they have ever worked with. Between the shows and other Festival-related activities, there has been opportunity to enjoy the people, the landscape, and other little perks of the Island.