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Canora performer entertains in Kamsack as part of SaskExpress

Abby Wilson of Canora is in her third year as a member of the SaskExpress cast.

Abby Wilson, who graduated from Canora Composite School in June, and 10 other SaskExpress cast mates from across the province, including Elizabeth Bishop of Kamsack, entertained an enthusiastic audience at the Kamsack Playhouse on Aug. 13 with their show entitled Going for Gold.

This summer marks the first time since 2019 (before the pandemic) that SaskExpress has embarked on a full summer tour.

“We were fortunate to have 25 performances this summer,” said Wilson. “This consisted of an eight-show tour in the Saskatchewan Provincial Parks, and various performances in communities/exhibitions/festivals across the province throughout the summer.”

The cast includes nine singers and two dancers, with a strong dose of youthful enthusiasm.

“The minimum required age to audition is 15,” explained Wilson. “The age range for the current cast sits between 16 to early 20s. We also have four summer students (two are in the cast), two band members, and our artistic director that have been working on the show.”

SaskExpress is a professional performing arts company based out of Regina, employing artists from a variety of communities in efforts to highlight Saskatchewan talent. During the summer months the group produces a summer show that tours around Saskatchewan performing in provincial parks and local communities. Then in the fall the company puts together a show for December that runs in their theatre with a couple special performances across the province. In the winter they run a school tour where they perform and do musical theatre workshops in schools. They also have two musical theatre studios (one in Regina and one in Saskatoon) that provide year round programming in singing, dancing, and acting.

The 2022 show highlights the talents of Wilson and the other performers.

“Our show takes the world of the Olympics and reimagines it as a performing arts competition. It’s a high energy, family friendly show complete with vocals and dancing that are sure to entertain.”

Wilson said a number of family and friends made the trip to Kamsack to cheer her on.

“We had a wonderful performance in Kamsack! Performing close to home is such a special and sentimental opportunity. Being able to do a show for my friends/family is a memory that I’ll cherish forever.”

This is Wilson’s third year performing with SaskExpress, an opportunity that has significantly expanded her horizons.

“My dance teachers saw an advertisement for auditions back in 2020 and thought it might be something I would enjoy doing,” she recalled. “Prior to auditioning I had only danced competitively so the opportunity really opened my eyes to the performing arts world outside of competitive dance. After joining the cast the first year, I realized how special the atmosphere at the company was, which led me to audition again in 2021 and 2022.”

To audition for SaskExpress all performers generally have to prepare a monologue, and then the audition process varies a bit depending on if they audition as a singer or a dancer. Singers are asked to prepare two contrasting songs that show off their vocal range, and dancers are required to perform two solo pieces. After this all the performers attend a dance/movement call. After auditions are complete, preparations for the summer get underway.

“We started weekend rehearsals in late March until school ended in June, and then went straight into doing shows.” 

Wilson has been dancing since the age of four when her parents enrolled her with Extravadance Studios.

“Quickly I fell in love and wanted to take as many classes as I could. I was very lucky to grow up in a safe, supportive environment that allowed me to pursue my creative interests.”

In addition to 14 years of dancing with Extravadance, Wilson has spent the last five years as a dance instructor.

“Throughout my time at the studio I trained in a variety of styles including tap, ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, pointe, and acro. My favourite style of dance is definitely jazz, but I also love tap and contemporary.

“I also took multiple teacher training courses through the studio and taught dance at all three locations - Canora, Yorkton, and Preeceville.”

Wilson said she enjoys just about everything related to dancing, including being onstage, training in the studio, and the process of learning from other people.

“My favourite part about teaching dance is the connections that I’ve made with the dancers I’ve taught. There are kids who started their first year of dance with me when I started teaching, so getting to see them grow up in the studio and progress has been rewarding. I also love how involved I have been able to be at the studio through teaching. I consider the studio a second home.”

After completing high school, Wilson will be continuing her education this fall at the Randolph College for Performing Arts in Toronto.  

“I’m headed to Toronto to expanding my training in the performing arts by studying singing, acting, and dancing,” she concluded.

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