When Rose McNeil auditioned for the 2017 Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver few months ago, she thought she blew it.
Part way through the opening of the aria Voi che Sapete che Cosa è Amor, from Mozart’s comedic opera The Marriage of Figaro, McNeil’s mind went blank.
“I just totally forgot the words because they’re not in English [and] because I had done it so many years ago in university. But it worked out alright,” she said.
“I felt like I totally bombed it so I was like, ‘Well, I’m never going to hear from them again,’ and they turned out to really like me and they called me back for the callback, which I felt so, so confident about in the end so it was such a weird experience for me.”
McNeil grew up in Nanaimo but moved away to study theatre at Capilano College around seven years and never attended a Yellowpoint show herself. This winter she’ll witness the production from the first time — from the stage.
Starting Dec. 5 the company has two shows at Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre, three at the McPherson Playhouse in Victoria and eight at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre. The show, now in its 11th year, features a variety of song and dance styles. Producer and director Katy Bowen-Roberts said she rewrites and recasts the show every year.
“It’s funny, my brother in the very first year said to me, ‘Oh my goodness, you’re going to use up all your music, all the good music, in the first year,’” Bowen-Roberts said.
“And then every year it’s just incredible what we are able to put into the show musically because I just sort of adapt it to fit the show and we keep bringing out new sets.”
McNeil said she’s “super stoked” to be performing in her hometown.
“I’ve always loved the Port. There’s this really strange tradition where there’s these … poles just inside in the back stage that were covered in paper and people would kiss them with their lipstick on and it would be covered and it was probably absolutely disgusting but it’s one of those little traditions that carries on,” she said.
“I went in there recently because my mom was doing costumes for The Little Mermaid with Schmooze Productions just a few months ago and I just went back there to help out a little bit and they were still doing that tradition years later.”
This is McNeil’s first Nanaimo performance since acting in the Nanaimo Theatre Group’s production of the musical Godspell in 2010. She described it as an emotional sendoff before leaving for university.
“It was my first really big show that I felt like every single person in it was in it to really create something amazing,” she said.
“That particular show, I remember I had just gotten into musical theatre school and I remember having this moment just singing one of the random songs and thinking, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’”
WHAT’S ON … The 2017 Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular returns to the Port Theatre on Dec. 12 to 16 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 15 to 17 at 3 p.m. Admission is $40 for adults, $33 for students and $36 for a group of 10 or more.