For Katelyn Morishita, a life on stage was just a dream, but StoryBook Theatre took a chance on her as an actress. The theatre welcomed her into their family and gave her the opportunity to play a starring role in their latest production, Matilda.

Morishita first began acting in her high school drama class, but it was the influence from her parents that first instilled her love of theatre.

“I remember my mom and my dad singing together all of the time, and dancing together. It was my happy place,” she says.

After high school, Morishita decided to pursue a career in business, opening a concession stand in a provincial park. However, she missed theatre.

“I wanted to be a singer,” Morishita explains. “But growing up you get a lot of, ‘Well, what is going to be your backup job?’ or ‘What is going to be your real job?’”

After running her own business for four years, Morishita realized her heart belonged to theatre, and decided to pursue it full-time.

“I just knew I was going to make a real go at this and I was going to make it my actual career. I wasn’t going to worry about what other people said,” she says.

It was in auditioning for a role at StoryBook Theatre that her dream started to become a reality.

As Miss. Trunchbull, Morishita plays the villain of the story. But she explains that playing “the villain is so much more fun. It is a great way to be somebody that you don’t get to be in real life.” Photo by Emily Marsten.

Morishita explains that StoryBook Theatre’s artistic producer, JP Thibodeau, realized her potential as an actress.

She says Thibodeau was, “the main person that has changed my life, because he took a chance on me, and the directors that have taken a chance on me have been mainly in this building.”

Morishita isn’t the only actor that StoryBook Theatre has taken a chance on — the theatre has an open environment. This encourages people from all backgrounds to audition for their productions, regardless of prior experience.

“Their experience usually has very little to do with the casting. It’s everything about how they are in the room and that they’re the right person to fit into that part,” Thibodeau explains.

“I think theatre is a home for anybody. There’s no reason that we couldn’t find a reason to be more inclusive.”

Thibodeau believes StoryBook Theatre helps build stronger relationships in the community, explaining the support system that theatre facilitates between actors.

“When you don’t belong to something, you always have that sense to want to belong to something. What theatre provides is a sense of belonging, and that never goes away,” says Thibodeau.

StoryBook Theatre also provides its audience with stories that make them feel connected to the actors in a relatable and personable way.

With 24 children split into two separate casts, the adult actors have to prepare to work with both casts. Photo by Emily Marsten.

Their current musical, Matilda, is the heartwarming story of a young girl who has a big imagination and loves reading, but has parents who don’t value her. At school, she finds an enemy in the headmaster, Miss. Trunchbull, and a friend in her teacher.

Morishita plays Miss. Trunchbull, the villain in Matilda. She says, “It’s a monster of a show, but it’s great!”

And she’s enjoying playing an antagonist like Miss. Trunchbull, the “built-like-a-tank” cruel and psychotic principal of the children’s school Crunchem Hall.

“The villain is so much more fun. It is a great way to be somebody that you don’t get to be in real life. You get to go totally wild and bonkers with your choices,” Morishita explains.

Being a part of the musical provides a place for actors to develop their talent by dedicating time and resources into improving their skills.

“We employ all professional teams to teach and mentor the actors who are volunteering in the shows. Allowing them to grow and get better,” says Thibodeau.

In Matilda, there are 24 children split into two separate casts. The adult actors stay the same in every production.

Thibodeau realizes the importance that StoryBook Theatre has in the lives of those actors.

“It’s seeing that spark that got me as a kid, ignited in them. Watching them just fall in love with not only theatre, but themselves,” he says.

“The foundation that theatre provides, especially to young people, is that sense of commitment […] people are relying on you.”

With the help of StoryBook Theatre, Morishita plans to continue pursuing her passion as a full-time actor.

“You just have to put in the work. You have to put in the research and you have to be confident. You can’t be arrogant, but you have to be confident in your choices.”

For more photos of StoryBook Theatre’s Matilda, click here

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Editor: Alaina Shirt | ashirt@cjournal.ca