As Cate Richardson stood on her high school stage singing Apology from the Anne of Green Gables story, she knew what she was destined to do.
“I remember finishing this song and thinking, ‘nope, there is nothing else like this out there’,” Richardson said. “That was probably the moment I knew, although it was building for a long time.”
Richardson, 21, will be performing in the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular Friday and Saturday (Dec. 20-21) at the Port Theatre.
“It’s a Christmas show that mashes together dance, and songs and choral pieces with Christmas glitz and glam,” Richardson. “It’s a lot of fun and high energy.”
Richardson, a Nanaimo native, began taking violin lessons when she was seven-years-old. When she was in her early teens, she started taking vocal lessons and got involved in musical theatre.
“I discovered that, although I did love to play the violin, that I was more of an actress and singer than I was a violinist,” she said.
Richardson, a graduate of Nanaimo Christian School, has since gone on to perform in various plays and musicals, including a lead role in Fiddler on the Roof. While Richardson enjoys being the lead she said she really enjoys roles, such as her role in the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular.
“My favourite works have been ones where it has been more of a collaboration than a lead versus supporting role,” she said. “Sort of like Yellowpoint. We all have our time to shine and we are all there to support each other when it’s their time to shine.”
Once the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular concludes, Richardson will be moving to Vancouver to further her career. She is hoping to branch out into film and television.
Richardson graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts and has a background in music, theatre and dance. She explained that being versatile as a performer is extremely important, particularly with the current economic situation.
“Three of the last five shows I’ve done, I have not only been an actor on stage but had my violin on me,” Richardson said. “The band was the actor. That is becoming hugely popular; Chemainus just did it with Fiddler on the Roof not too long ago and it’s because of the tough economic times. People are saying, ‘well we could kill two birds with one stone here’.”
According to Richardson, there is an added challenge to being a female performer in theatre.
“There are so many women trying for less female parts,” Richardson said. “It’s starting to change. People are writing plays with more female parts, but if you look at countless classic musicals, for every three female leads there are four or five male leads.”
As with the film and television industry, there is pressure to look a particular way within the theatre and dance industries, she said
“I think in the dance world it’s even more strenuous,” Richardson said. “Film is probably a bit stricter as far as body image, but it is still definitely a factor in theatre. There is still a lot of pressure from people saying you need to lose weight, but in a lot of cases you just really need to be in top physical condition.”
Networking has also become important since the advent of social media.
“A lot of actors now are making their own work and producing their own plays,” Richardson said. “If you have friends that are actors you can collaborate together. It’s very important to know artistic directors.”
With an average audition time of 20 seconds to five minutes, knowing artistic directors can provide a huge advantage to hopefuls.
“Being memorable to people and making friends and knowing who they are makes a big difference,” Richardson said. “Even the show I am doing now, the musical director taught me violin when I was growing up in Nanaimo.”
For the Nanaimo native, the best part about her job is its effect on people.
“I love hearing from people that the music or the acting made a difference to them, whether it is as simple as I came out in a bad mood and left feeling cheery,” Richardson said.
For more information on the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular visit www.yellowpointchristmasspectacular.com or call Port Theatre 250-754 8550. Information on Cate Richardson can be found athttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Richardson/257907291011909 or by following @CateRichardson on Twitter.