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Ladies who launch musical theatre

The women of LB Productions bring song and dance to Whistler kids

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Musical theatre is like everything to me! The kids we work with are learning so much and constantly engaged," says Louise Robinson.

"I'm so passionate about it because I've been doing it so long."

Robinson is the stage manager and a teacher at Whistler's LB Productions. A trained drama teacher who taught for four years in Australia before moving to Whistler three years ago, Robinson saw an ad in Pique placed by Anita Burleson that changed her life.

"I love it and I love Anita's philosophy. And it's not really about becoming a great performer at all. It's about the experience for the kids, it's more about the process than the product," Robinson says.

"Of course, getting the best you can is important and Anita and I work really hard to make it really good and showcase what the kids are learning, but along the way it is about what the kids learn about themselves through drama, music and singing.

"Anita has this big heart and she does as much as she possibly can! It really is about the development of the kids and their enjoyment. Having fun."

Robinson says younger kids focus better on the theatre when they are doing more "embodiment," or physical creation.

"That's why dance is really important for younger kids. And they're still learning how to talk properly, so singing is a really great way to explore words. Your vocal chords get a workout."

And while Robinson is an established part of the LB Productions team, Burleson says she has brought in new talented women to teach — they are well into their fall term.

They are Jeannie Peters (hip hop and musical theatre), Monika Rosen (musical theatre), JennaMae Togado (theatre and songwriting), and Rebecca Wood Barrett (musical theatre).

Peters joins LB Production as a dance teacher, having just moved to the resort. She has previously danced with the Onyx Dance Team at Vancouver's Harbour Dance Centre.

She is now working with under-eights and a tween-age group.

"With both our groups right now we are doing old-school hip hop. For the younger ones, it's really cute, one of the dads rapped "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. The kids love the beat," Peters says.

"The older group is doing a remix of 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson. It's still his song but with a techno feel."

Burleson is thrilled with her team.

"We've had so many great teachers, and of course this being Whistler people come and go," Burleson says.

"And I want pay tribute to the ladies that I am working with right now because they have diverse backgrounds, but what they all have in common is the core value of what LB is, and that is the interest in the personal growth and self-expression of each individual child."

Burleson approached pop musician and songwriter Togado to join the team.

"Musical theatre, I had done it in school, and she said she wanted me to be on the team as a singer, singing with the kids," Togado says.

"It is easy because it is so much fun. We've been doing some songwriting exercises where the kids ad lib, like when you make a story and someone else fills in the blanks and the other person continues the story. We do something like that, where the kids create a fun song together.

"It's always awesome working with kids because you get instant gratification, they are so excitable."

Burleson is grateful to Arts Whistler for their support.

"The cultural scene has really grown in Whistler and I want to say kudos to them," she says.

"It has been a moment that I've looked back at the growth that has happened in our community. These new ladies are just the latest to come here and work hard for it."

And the work by this new team will be pulled together at LB Productions' new variety show on Sunday, Nov. 27.

"It has been fun," says Burleson.

"You think of someone like Carol Burnett, she was my idol, all those comedic women. It gives the kids a chance to learn where all this comes from."

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