Timetabling error changes shy USS student’s life
by Lisha Van Nieuwenhove
A painfully shy young man finds that a glitch in the computer system has messed his school timetable up, putting him in drama class rather than art class. He takes the course anyway, and it changes his life, becoming the first step in what will hopefully be a career in the spotlight.
Add a romance and a car chase and this would make a heck of a movie. Ryan Whitty would be the star because, minus the car chase, it’s his story. The aforementioned shy young man is currently getting ready to open his tenth show at the Uxbridge Music Hall, starring as teacher Dewey Finn in VIP’s production of School of Rock.
“That class really changed my entire life,” says Ryan during a break from Rock rehearsals. “Theatre does that!”
Audiences will recognize Ryan from Music Hall shows like Beauty & the Beast, Shrek, Mary Poppins, Hairspray, and Bye Bye Birdie. At USS, Ryan has been in Little Women and Election. Many of these shows are musicals, and Ryan trains with vocal teacher Sasha Liebich-Tait in Port Perry.
Ryans says that playing the energetic Dewey Finn has presented some exciting challenges to him as an actor, including having to learn how to play the lead guitar.
“I’m self-taught,” he explains, “I just started to learn when we started preparing for the show. It’s really pushing me harder!”
Other kids in the 37-member cast have also had to learn how to play instruments for the show. Producer Nia Hachey explains that some mentors, like Davi Aquinas, a guitar player with local singer Julien Kelland’s band, have given their time to give the kids learning instruments some tips.
VIP, or Vocally Inspired Performers, is a theatre group made up entirely of young people between the ages of 8 – 18, and was founded and directed by Marissa Hachey.
“Marissa works so well with young people,” says Ryan. “I think this is going to be one of the best shows that’ve been on the Music Hall stage in awhile. It’s got the iconic scenes that the movie (starring Jack Black) has, and pretty much every other line has a laugh!”
He’s also pleased that Uxbridge is putting on a production of a show that is also playing on Broadway.
School of Rock opens tonight (Thursday) at the Music Hall, and runs for the last two weekends of the summer. After the curtain closes, Ryan just has time to finish packing up his belongings before he heads off to Sheridan College for his first year in the Musical Theatre Prep program.
For ticket and show information, visit starticketing.com.