How one P.E.I. family is taking the community theatre stage together

When 17-year-old Megan Smith transforms into Rapunzel, letting down her long blond wig, and singing a duet with the witch, there's a special chemistry on stage.

In P.E.I.'s Fandango Musical Players production of Into the Woods, the character of the witch is played by Smith's mother, Claire Caseley Smith. 

And they're not the only ones in their family who are part of the Summerside show. The Smith family makes up nearly a third of the cast of 16, in the musical which intertwines the plots of several fairy tales. 

Caseley Smith's husband, Chris Smith, plays the baker, Emily, 15, plays Little Red, and Brennan, 13, plays Jack.

"It's just a completely different experience when you're doing it alongside your mom or your dad or your siblings," Megan said. 

Raised on music

This isn't the first time members of the Smith family has performed together — all of the family members have been in past Fandango productions — but this is the largest contingent of the family of six all in one show. .

It's perhaps no surprise the Smith kids have all taken an interest in musical theatre. Claire and Chris met while studying music at UPEI, and for a time had a recording studio in their home in Kensington. From classical music to Led Zeppelin, Claire said her children were surrounded by music "from the womb."

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As her kids grew up, even chores like doing the dishes were often accompanied by three-part harmonies, Claire said. 

"There was always music around," added Emily.

"Someone would be singing, or someone would be watching a music video, playing piano, guitar, anything like that. And it's just kind of always been around."

Practising together

For the Smith family, preparing for the show extends beyond rehearsals. 

"There's a lot of lines in this play, and we have a lot of leads in our family. So there was almost always a time when somebody would be practising," Megan said. 

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That includes running lines at home, and even singing all together when they're driving.

Brennan admits he sometimes wants a break from practising lines with his family, but, he said, "It does also help me with my lines too, and it always ends up in a very great show." 

'Part of a team'

As well as a chance to spend quality time as a family, the Smiths said being family can be helpful on stage.

"It's really easy to act off each other, and we can go a lot further because we know how each other think. And it makes it really easy to really get that extra mile," Brennan said. 

Chris said acting with his children helps to expand their relationships. They have to rely on each other in a different kind of way.

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"Now they're part of a team. I'm not just a dad, you know, and he's not just my son," Chris said. 

"I asked Emily the other day 'how would you deliver that line? What do you think you would do in that instance if you were playing the role?' And I took her opinion. You know, I respect her as an actor." 

While music may be in the family, when the curtain goes up, the Smiths say they embody their roles, just like always.

"When we're on stage, it's kind of like they're not my kids and my husband, they're my cast mates," Claire said. 

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