Category Archives: Shows

“Grimms Tales” on Global Morning Live – Feb 15th, 2016

Great interview this morning with Rob Ursan about “Grimm Tales” on Global Regina

Do It With Class putting an original spin on 3Penny Opera (Leader Post) – Nov 17th, 2015


Victor Salazar (left), Logan Weir and Sheriton Smith star in 3Penny Opera, the latest production from Do It With Class Young People's Theatre.

Victor Salazar (left), Logan Weir and Sheriton Smith star in 3Penny Opera, the latest production from Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre. MICHAEL BELL / REGINA LEADER-POST

Robert Ursan could’ve spent his summer relaxing at a cabin or chilling by a pool but instead chose a rather unique task — he translated The Threepenny Opera from the original German.

There was a method to Ursan’s madness as his work resulted in the script and music for 3Penny Opera, the latest production for the Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre. When the group decided to add the musical to its lineup for the 2015-16 season, Ursan wanted to give it an original feel and that’s why he went back to the original script.

Ursan, the artistic director of DIWC, said the translation wasn’t as difficult as some people might think.

“My German was good enough to understand about half of the original script and then I used a translation service so I could get a literal translation of each sentence which I then put into colloquial sentences,” said Ursan, who is also directing the production. “The lyrics were actually easier to understand than the dialogue in the script but having written a few musicals, it came in very handy — I knew if I had eight notes to fill and it had to rhyme on the fourth and eighth note, and that’s what the German text did, you just follow the patterns until it makes sense.”

It sounds like Ursan applied a mathematical formula when writing the lyrics.

“In a way it is. You end up having to follow an awful lot of rules to make it work properly,” said Ursan.

Originally adapted from The Beggar’s Opera, written by John Gay in 1728, The Threepenny Opera was written by Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht in 1928. Since its debut at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, the production has been translated into 18 languages and performed more than 10,000 times worldwide.

Staying true to the original production was Ursan’s main motivation for translating the script and lyrics.

“Threepenny Opera is considered one of the greatest works of theatrical art from the 20th century. It’s been translated many times before but as I was going through the material, I found that there were a number of translations that were dedicated to making sure that it was an absolute translation of what had been said. But sometimes that really doesn’t play in 2015. So after reading five or six translations, I started to do fixes here and there and the fixes turned into sitting down and doing the whole thing.”

So, was all the work worth it?

“Very much so, very much so,” said Ursan. “The kids are having a great time. I lived in Scotland for a couple of years and I’ve always been a big fan of British television so because the thing takes place in London, I’ve been trying to use as many modern colloquial British phrases and sayings in the translation. It’s been fun to do.”

The production focuses on Macheath, a criminal in Victorian London. It follows him into the corrupt society and opens a debate to whether or not a person needs to be a criminal to survive.

Performed by DIWC’s senior students, the musical delivers a mature story.

“I don’t think anyone under the age of 14 would get too much out of the political satire or social commentary but also the original story was written in the 1700s and is the exact same story that was translated into German by Brecht and it’s the same one we’re using now — it’s all about survival and how the lower classes do whatever they must to survive,” explained Ursan. “The idea of social justice is almost completely fictitious, according to this story you have to learn how to play the system in order to survive.”

Macheath is introduced in the opening number of Mack The Knife, and yes, it’s the same song that Bobby Darin turned into a pop hit in 1959. While Darin’s version is rather lighthearted, Ursan pointed out that the song is really an indepth look at Macheath.

“Everybody knows the song Mack The Knife, Bobby Darin’s jazzy little ditty, yet nobody knows what he’s talking about. He’s talking about somebody who is a murderer and a thief and a pimp,” said Ursan. “The very last verse of the Bobby Darin version, he recites all the names of all of the women in the show but what he’s really doing is reciting a list of all the women Macheath is sleeping with, two of whom he’s married to, and those that have been his prostitutes. It’s not exactly a seemly group of human beings.”

The production opens with two shows on Nov. 19 followed by single shows on Nov. 20 and 21.

Tickets for the show are $20 for adults, $15 for youths (two to 18) and $15 for seniors (65 and older). Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 306-530-9862.

3Penny Opera

• 12:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., Nov. 19

• 7:30 p.m., Nov. 20 & 21

• Darke Hall

It’s Fun and Fantasy For Do It With Class (Leader Post) – Oct. 22nd, 2015

It’s fun and fantasy for Do It With Class’ production of Alice in Wonderland


It’s fun and fantasy for Do It With Class' production of Alice in Wonderland
Declan Hewitt, Kayla Weir and Luke Lumbard, from left, pose in a promotional photoshoot in support of an upcoming performance of Alice in Wonderland at Do It With Class Theatre. MICHAEL BELL/Regina Leader-Post



REGINA — Get ready to go down the rabbit hole with Regina’s Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre.

Rob Ursan’s musical production of Alice in Wonderland runs October 28 to Oct. 30 and is a fan favourite.

“I actually wrote it for the company about 15 year ago,” recalls Ursan via a phone interview. “This is the third time that the company has done the show. It’s the typical Alice story, but I added a little extra to it, so that there’s kind of an overarch of how these characters in the book were actually more like real life characters then we might think, even though they seem to be completely insane most of the time.

“It’s almost completely the same (as previous runs of the show). Actually, each time we’ve done it ­— the last time I re-orchestrated the show, so it was the sound of the show was different — and for this particular production, I wrote three new songs, so it’s been a lot of fun to do. Also, you’re going to see a brand new cast of fresh, young, talented faces up on that stage.”

Alice even has a famous graduate — Tatiana Maslany, who was nominated for 2015 Emmy Award for her work on the television series Orphan Black.

“She was our very first Alice. It’s remarkable, and what always kills me every time I think about Tatiana is that, I’ve seen her a few times when she’s come back to Regina, and she is really just such a genuine, lovely person. It’s one of those things that I’m the most proud of with all the Do It With Class kids, is that so many of them turned out to be extraordinary human beings.”

The company itself is celebrating it’s 22nd season, and Ursan is thrilled that they’re back at Darke Hall on the University of Regina College Avenue campus.

“It’s really a wonderful thing. Do It With Class actually did its first full-length musicals at Darke Hall about 17, 18 years ago, as the company grew, at one point we were 80 strong and the space was a little small for all of us, but we’re back in Darke Hall which is a remarkable old building that has the most beautiful acoustics, and it’s a wonderful training place for young performers to find their theatrical voice in. It’s really exciting that these kids are going to get the opportunity to perform in this space.”

So, what’s so magical about working with young thespians?

“Personally, I think that I’ve learned every bit as much as I’ve taught over the years,” says Ursan. “I’ve learned so much by working with young performers, seeing how their enthusiasm can be turned into skill. It’s an incredible experience for me, and the kids always seem to have a great time putting these shows on and that really comes across on stage when you see the productions.”

Some other productions coming to life on stage this season include 3 Penny Opera, Grimm Tales and Sussical. But are there any future Tatiana Maslany’s in the cast?

“I think that there are. I really and truly do. There are so many of these young people who already have decided — this is primarily the junior company, so the kids are between the ages of 10-14 — and there are 12-year-olds who are already talking to me about which college they should go to study once they finish high school. They’ve decided this is going to be the course of their life, and it’s remarkable and truly wonderful.”

Alice In Wonderland

Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre

12:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., Oct. 28 & 29

7:30 p.m., Oct. 30

Darke Hall

Darke Hall to get new life hosting concerts in Regina (NewsTalk 980) Sept 16, 2015

September 16, 2015 – 10:02amUpdated: September 16, 2015 – 2:18pm
Members of the Regina Symphony Orchestra were on hand for an announcement about the revitalization of Darke Hall in Regina.Darke Hall.Members of Do it With Class were on hand for an announcement about the revitalization of Darke Hall in Regina.Members of the Regina Symphony Orchestra were on hand for an announcement about the revitalization of Darke Hall in Regina.Darke Hall.

Darke Hall.

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Darke Hall is returning to the spotlight for the Regina arts community, as a new generation of musicians and performers move in.

The concert hall is getting a $4 million upgrade thanks to fundraising efforts from the College Avenue Campus Renewal Project. This week the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra and Do it with Class Young People’s Theatre announced a partnership to move into the building.

Darke Hall opened in 1929 and for decades, it was Regina’s principal concert hall and theatre until the Conexus Arts Centre opened in 1970.

Do it With Class artistic director Rob Ursan calls the building a lost gem. He performed in many concerts on that stage while growing up and started directing plays there in the 90s.

“There is a feeling that you get when you walk into an old theatre,” Ursan commented. “A lot of people talk about it with the older theatres in some of the older cities – that you walk into a theatre that feels like it’s from the old world and you behave differently.”

He is also looking forward to teaching his students how to use the natural acoustics in the building to project their voices without microphones.

For Ursan and many other musicians in the city, the theatre is haunted by musical memories. He recalls the time a budding Broadway star named Paul Nolan starred in a Regina Lyric production of Mikado. He was 25 minutes late because his Grade 12 graduation was the same day.

“I went on and sang his first number and then he came on stage and said ‘Can I have my role back please,'” Ursan said.

Now Ursan is excited to bring a new generation of youth to the stage that holds a special place in Regina’s musical history.

“This is a very old building and you look around and it just feels magical almost,” said 15-year-old Ceiligh Dodds.

She is looking forward to continuing the tradition of performance and music on the stage.

“You hear all these really cool stories of people that you know that have performed here or come here to see someone perform here and that’s going to be me soon, so that’s pretty cool,” Dodds commented.

Brad Mahon is the head of the Conservatory of Performing Arts at the University of Regina which currently uses the building. Right now, it is not available officially for public rentals. For the past several years, Darke Hall has only been used for a few concerts and private recitals, but the plans for upgrades will fix some of the current limitations.

“Part of it is to make the hall a viable public use hall again,” he said.

He says the biggest challenge right now is accessibility and that is why Darke Hall has fallen out of popular use. An anonymous donor has come forward with $1 million specifically earmarked for renovations to improve accessibility.

He said the idea is to return the building to its former glory as a marquee performance hall. The partner groups will be touring the building on Thursday with an architect to discuss some of the possible upgrades for the space.

Youth to use Darke Hall – (Regina Leader Post), September 15, 2015

Darke Halll Media Event

Brad Mahon, head of the Conservatory of Performing Arts, at a news conference announcing “exciting” plans for Darke Hall in Regina on Sept. 15, 2015.
Photograph by: BRYAN SCHLOSSER , Regina Leader-Post

Rob Ursan still remembers being a 14-year-old walking onto the stage of Regina’s Darke Hall for his first solo piano recital.

“At that age, walking on a stage all by yourself and knowing everyone is looking at you is a truly brilliant experience,” he said.

Now the artistic director of Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre, Ursan is looking forward to a new generation of creating similar memories.

On Tuesday, it was announced Do It With Class and the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra is now calling Darke Hall home.

“It’s going to be wonderful for the young people, a great learning experience,” said Ursan.

Darke Hall, located on the west end of the University of Regina’s College Avenue campus, is in the midst of a revival.

That was spurred further last week, when $3 million was approved by the University to refurbish the building’s exterior shell. That work is expected to start this fall.

U of R president Vianne Timmons has made revitalizing the College Avenue Campus a priority, but since the project was announced in 2011, finding cash has been a problem.

Timmons is hoping the community can raise $10 million for the project: right now, the university is about $3 million shy of reaching that number.

Elmer Brenner is a member of the donor campaign committee. He says finding businesses to put up cash for the revitalization project has been a struggle.

“It’s been slow, but it’s coming along,” he said.

Brenner is looking forward to the hall’s new tenants bringing a new audience to it.

“So many people don’t even know where Darke Hall is,” he said. “Anything you can do to raise interest in it is worthwhile.”

Brad Mahon, head of the Conservatory for Performing Arts, said Darke Hall, which opened in 1929, has its limitations right now. The front of house is small at best and non-existent at worse, and the building isn’t easily accessible to those using wheelchairs.

“The building doesn’t work for everybody yet,” said Mahon.

He’s hoping that will change and plans to consult with the youth groups set to use the hall on how to improve it.

“Part of it is to make the hall a viable public-use hall again,” he said.

Limitations aside, the building does have a certain charm not found elsewhere in Regina.

“This venue is very different than the vast majority of other venues, in that you don’t have to have huge amounts of amplification,” said Ursan. “It’s going to be a wonderful thing for young people to find their theatrical voice rather than relying on technical amplification all of the time.”

Do It With Class will have a production of Alice in Wonderland in October, which will kick off its 22nd season at Darke Hall.

Darke Hall has been such an incredibly important venue within the arts community for my entire life. That it’s getting more and more attention now is perfect,” he said.

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Regina’s Darke Hall has new season of youth performance, (Global TV Regina News) September 15, 2015

Global news - news event

REGINA – Regina’s Darke Hall will not stand dark or empty this fall. Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre and the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra’s theatrical and musical seasons will be at the historic theatre.

There are a lot of benefits for these young singers to perform here.

“The one thing that they’ll be able to do here is learn to use a theatrical voice without the enhancement of amplification,” explained Rob Ursan, Do It With Class (DIWC) artistic director.
This season, DIWC will be putting on four musicals, including Alice in Wonderland and The Threepenny Opera. Both will suit this historic setting.

“It is an incredible place. It is an incredible under-used place. It’s a place that I think should be used year round.”
“When you walk in here it looks like the 1920’s and 30’s – that kind of era. So it will be easier to get your mind in the time frame of the show,” said Charisma Taylor, 16 year-old DIWC senior performer.

Beyond that, performers like Taylor know they are helping to keep Darke Hall operating.

“Being young performers, when we get old, I’m sure many of us want to see young people have the same opportunities that we do. If we don’t have spaces like this than we can’t do that because they don’t have any places to perform,” Taylor said.

The University of Regina has begun its restoration of the College Avenue campus and Darke Hall, but there’s a way to go.

“We want to get feedback from potential future users, obviously they’re current users now too, but to ask the question: what does Darke Hall need?” said Brad Mahon, head of the University of Regina conservatory.

“Work needs to be done both on the stage with sight lines for the audience, a little better lighting, especially in the front here (and) a little better acoustics,” said Alan Denike, the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra music director.

Now that Do It With Class and the South Saskatchewan Youth Orchestra have made Darke Hall their permanent home, the hope is to also attract a bigger audience to this beloved space.

“It is an incredible place. It is an incredible under-used place. It’s a place that I think should be used year round,” said Ursan.

Do It With Class Moves to Darke Hall! – ( CTV Regina), September 15, 2015

CTV - 2-page0001

A Newer Neverland – Ursan unveils a different take on the Peter Pan fable (Edmonton Journal)

By Devin Pacholik, For The Leader-Post March 30, 2015

A newer Neverland

Captain Hook ( Kieran Kennedy) and Peter Pan (Lorenzo Salazar) will battle in the Do It With Class production of Peter Pan, which runs March 31 and April 1/15 at the Conexus Arts Centre.

Photograph by: Darrol Hofmeister , Photo by Sharpshooter Photography

Unpaid bills, laundry that needs folding and the quest for more coffee: these are the adventures of adulthood. But what if we didn’t have to grow up? What if we could fly away to Neverland?

Do It With Class Young People’s Theatre (DIWC) invites audiences to soar with Peter Pan on March 31 and April 1 at Conexus Arts Centre. The musical is DIWC’s season finale and Robert Ursan, the artistic director of the organization, said it’s an immense, fantastical production.

Ursan wrote the music and script, adapted from J. M. Barrie’s classic tale about a magical boy, his fairy friend Tinkerbell and their expedition with the Darling children through Neverland.

Starting last summer, Ursan scored nearly 20 original songs for the musical. He said he is both excited and terrified to showcase his work.

“The style is kind of typical oldfashioned Broadway, but it has my thumbprints,” explained Ursan.

There are 50 actors ages 10 to 18 involved with Peter Pan from DIWC’s junior and senior companies, including Kieran Kennedy (Captain Hook), Lorenzo Salazar (Peter Pan) and Taylor Cameron (Wendy).

“Sometimes you forget how young these kids are,” said Ursan. “They are an incredible group of people. I’m proud of the work they’re doing.”

When asked why he wrote a new script for Peter Pan, Ursan said he wanted to remove the controversial characters and scenes from earlier versions. Notably, he took out the infamous depictions of First Nations people in Tiger Lily’s tribe. Ursan called those depictions insensitive.

“My solution was to choose warriors that would have been closer to J. M. Barrie in the first place,” he explained.

The director borrowed warrior names from the ancient tribe of the Scottish Picts, including their queen Boudicca.

“Boudicca was the only leader of the tribes of Britain who was able to withstand the Roman invasion. She was an incredible leader,” said Ursan.

By making the warriors women, Ursan said he hoped to empower the cast without sacrificing any important plot points.

“There is still the notion that the chieftain’s daughter is kidnapped by Hook and the pirates. All of the usual Peter Pan stuff is there, but every so often it’s filtered through my sense of humour.”

From the time Ursan and DIWC’s Andorlie Hillstrom decided to stage Peter Pan, they wanted it to have a bold look. Choreography by Monica Ventura includes a mermaid ballet and plenty of sword fighting, with elaborate and colourful costumes by Donna Rumple.

“She’s done some absolutely beautiful things,” said Ursan. “I’m absolutely sure children are going to want to take photos with Nana, the nursemaid dog.”

He also credited the actors’ parents for building an enormous set, which transforms into a pirate ship and other locations.

There is also an imaginative portrayal of Tinkbell, although Ursan didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

“It’s going to be a really great family show.”

Tickets for Peter Pan are available at the Conexus Box Office by calling 306-525-9999 or online at

Regina theatre group rids racism from classic tale (Global TV News)

REGINA – A Scottish accent is not something you would expect to find in Peter Pan, but then again, this is not your traditional story.

Do it with Class is performing a version of the classic that will not include traditional First Nations characters.

“There’s some stuff in there (the original) that’s not entirely acceptable, in fact not at all acceptable,” explained artistic director Rob Ursan.

Global news - Peter Pan - March 22
In fact, the colonial descriptions of Aboriginal people caused him to rewrite the entire script, adding his own Scottish touches.

One of the young actresses, Kayla Weir, said the audience will be in for a surprise, but is hopeful they respond well.

“This is cool, this is different, this is a good way to put it. This is a new story line, it kind of changes it up a little bit,” she said.

Her character is replacing the traditional Tiger Lily.

“Tiger Lily in other versions and films, she was kind of just the princess in the First Nation tribe and always just stuck with her tribe.”

Oppositely, Weir’s character is tough and has a mind of her own, much like her tribe leader, Boudicca.

Historically, Boudicca was known as the only British ruler to beat back the Roman invasion.

Sheriton Smith will play the legendary leader. She said it is a bonus if people come into the show knowing about the historical significance, but it is not necessary to appreciate the play.

“You don’t need to know that background to see how powerful and strong our tribe is,” she said.

Smith appreciated the new script: “It makes it easier for us to portray the characters and not have to worry about offending anyone.”

Ursan, meanwhile, is hopeful that the audience understands the reason behind the changes, but added theatre is all about surprises.

“Learning to go to the theatre is about going in with expectations, and having those expectations blown away.”

Peter Pan runs March 31st and April 1st at the Conexus Arts Centre

Regina theatre company presents new ‘Peter Pan’ (Newstalk 980)

Spring production addresses ‘racial stereotypes’ of First Nations people

Reported by Adriana Christiansonphoto(19) - cjme
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Neverland may be a world where time stands still, but when it comes to what some might consider to be racist stereotypes of First Nations people, one Regina director felt it was time for Peter Pan to change with the times.

When Do It With Class artistic director Rob Ursan started looking at scripts for Peter Pan, he realized he had a big problem with racist stereotypes of indigenous people.

Peter Pan was chosen kind of by mistake,” Ursan said. “Everyone has a general idea of what Peter Pan is, but the problem is that some of the specifics of the story aren’t quite appropriate anymore.”

In the original play and book, the native ‘Picaninny’ tribe of Neverland are called redskins and portrayed as savages. They speak in gibberish and call Peter Pan ‘Great Chief White Bear’. In the 1953 Disney movie, there is even a song called What Makes the Red Man Red.

Ursan sees that kind of cultural stereotype as offensive and unacceptable for the young performers in his company.

“To me, the thought that we could treat any group with any sort of disrespect is kind of abhorrent to me,” Ursan said.

The show was already announced as the main cast feature production for Do it With Class Young People’s Theatre, and that meant Ursan was stuck. He looked at four different musical versions of the classic play by J.M. Barrie including the Broadway version and the Disney version.

“None of them addressed any of the issues that I found to be distasteful,” he said. “So I sat down and wrote a new one. I just took all the bits out that I don’t think are appropriate anymore and I replaced them with other characters.”

Instead of caricatures who bow in reverence to the white children who rescue their princess, this tribe of natives in Neverland is replaced by empowered female warriors.

Drawing inspiration from the Scottish heritage he shares with the original playwright J.M. Barrie, Ursan wrote about the ancient tribe of Pictish warriors who were led by a woman.

“They were the only people who were able to stave off the hoards of Roman invaders,” he said. “They were a remarkable group of highly-organized warriors and they were led by a woman. Their chieftan Boudica was one of the greatest warriors. Some of the histories of the time talk about her as being an incredibly beautiful woman who was also an incredibly vicious warrior and also a brilliant strategist.”

For teenage actress Sheriton Smith, who plays Boudica, the change is inspiring.

“I thought it was quite an ingenious idea,” she said. “There are some racial problems with the original Peter Pan.”

Watching the movie Peter Pan as a kid, Smith says she never really thought that it was racist, but when she was a little older she started picking up on several negative stereotypes. Thanks to Ursan’s re-write, now Sheritan says she doesn’t have to worry about offending another culture. Instead, she can concentrate on an empowering female character.

“To represent such a powerful character it means quite a lot,” I would hate to represent something that’s racist,” she said.

Ursan’s re-write also includes 20 original songs and a musical score for string quartet, piano and percussion. The production includes a lot of original dialogue and the story still maintains the true essence of the original Peter Pan, while cutting out the stereotypes.

“To me, it’s about play and about wonder and about the childish understanding of what adults look like and how adults behave,” he said.

When audiences go to Neverland this time, he hopes the innocence of a story about children and pirates won’t be darkened by a stereotype that academics have labeled as offensive to indigenous cultures.

“For me, this isn’t being politically correct, this is about being considerate and kind,” Ursan said. “For me, this is about trying to in a very, very, very tiny way, redress something that I think is a terrible slander.”

The production of Peter Pan features a cast of 50 young local performers. The new version has a more comical twist and highlights Scottish dancing. The show runs from March 31 to April 1 at the Conexus Arts Centre.
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