“Over the past twenty years or so, I have been involved in over thirty productions as writer, director, actor, singer, janitor and often several of the above.” This was a declaration that was humbly offered by Ken Mastel, director and lead actor in the production of the hit musical, ‘The Buddy Holly Story’. “I got my first electric guitar when I was seventeen years old and before I had learned my first minor chord I had found an awful suit jacket, put on the thickest rimmed glasses I could find and took a photograph of myself in the best Buddy Holly pose I could master. Indeed, the first song I ever played in front of a real audience was Peggy Sue.”
Now a seasoned performer, Mastel was surrounded by a cast of fifteen performers, a crew of twelve technicians and production managers and eleven musicians to produce the Buddy Holly Story. Collectively, they gifted the sold-out crowd of 130 on each of April 24th, 25th, and 26th with a stellar performance. A second series of performances will be held at the recently named ‘Manluk Theatre of the Performing Arts’, on May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
A visit to the Performing Arts Theatre building in Wetaskiwin is a treat in itself. It is a very old building. Through a massive amount of sweat equity by volunteers of the Performing Arts Society, the facility has evolved from a makeshift stage surrounded by pipes, scaffolding, ladders and construction materials, modest props, two sets of spot lights on stands, light cords strung from the ceiling and dark curtains providing a backdrop into a welcoming theatre. After being immersed into the ambiance the facility offers, it grows on you as a theatrical setting
Today, the Waterworks Theatre continues to display the theatrical charm and character offered by the antique looking brick walls, arched heavy wood window frames and an unfinished concrete floor. But, the entire building continues to be a work-in-progress with evident progress being made. Remodeling and renovating an old building is a daunting task; and even more so on a shoestring budget. The stage has been installed. Walls have been painted, flooring installed, modern lighting and sound systems added and updating of utility systems including a new heating system. All has required endless dollars and volunteer hours.
The organization is entirely run by volunteers – from those who work on the construction to the person who swabs the toilets and takes out the garbage – no one gets a paycheck. And the Society proudly states it is, “debt free except for sweat equity of many local volunteers who are transforming the old former waterworks building into a modernized facility while retaining a performing arts and theatrical type of atmosphere that in a natural manner prepares audiences for musical and theatrical performances.”
In the past year volunteers collectively logged over 60,000 hours. These hours were spent supporting the day to day operations of the society, working on the construction project and producing live community theatre and promoting music concerts.
The Buddy Holly Story performance ended, the cast came on stage to receive the reward they so diligently earned. Smiles of gratitude were exchanged for a standing ovation and appreciative round of applause from the audience. This appreciation is also an arms-length acknowledgement of another stellar performance. In its own way, it was thanks to the Waterworks Theatre Society for providing on-going top notch theater for the community.
Mastel, who is also President of the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society, is proud the timing of the production of the Buddy Holly Story is a celebration of, “the christening of our centre, and our relationship with our new corporate sponsor. Welcome to the Manluk Theatre of the Performing Arts. To Frank Luebke, his lovely wife Diana, Glen Jackson and the rest of the crew at Manluk, thank you for choosing us.”
Mastel also gratefully acknowledged Kimto Manufacturing, Central Heating, Cooperators Insurance, Scotties Plumbing, Dart Electric and numerous other businesses and volunteers, “who have brought this dream to fruition.”
For more information or to join this theatrical community go to www.wetaskiwintheatresociety.com or by calling the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society at 780-352-8383.