As director and producer of the Children’s Theatre in Vanderhoof, Richard Wruth is a perfectionist.
In the theatre, he’s constantly dealing with deadlines, miscues, props and students who, at times, don’t appear to grasp the urgency of the situation.
“Every year I say we’re never going to make it, that we’re not showing this,” said Wruth
“But when you think it’s never going to come together, on opening night, the kids always amaze you.”
It’s normal for Wruth and his coworkers to each invest 500 to 600 hours into producing a single show, helping students rehearse the script and hone their formations on stage.
For the last two weeks, Wruth has been working tirelessly on two plays at the theatre, Sleeping Beauty and the Jungle Book, which involve almost 50 students from schools across the district.
After spending long hours racing around the theatre, Wruth usually doesn’t get home until midnight.
“I may not have got much sleep over it, but in the end, it’s all worth it,” he said.
Wruth started working at the Children’s Theatre in 1999 as part of a career program. He was contemplating going to university, but opted to direct one more play. Wruth has been helping produce plays and musicals at the theatre ever since.
“I love it,” he said.
In the past 12 years, Wruth has seen how theatre helps shy students develop into more confident young adults, some of whom are now playing lead roles on stage, he explained.
At first, performing before an audience can be a bit nerve racking, but over time, theatre helps students improve their interpersonal skills and become better public speakers.
“Honestly, I think every kid should have to take theatre,” he said.
This last year, Wruth was praised by John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes, and received the Cynthia Davis award for his commitment to the Children’s Theatre.
Once, while Wruth was attending the Vanderhoof Music Festival to watch his cousin play in a band, he was asked on to the stage to receive an award from the committee.
“I didn’t know anything about it. Actually, I was just about to leave when my aunt grabbed me and told me to sit back down,” he said.
“I said, I can’t! I’ve got theatre to work on!”
For the time being, Wruth has no intention of leaving Vanderhoof to branch out, enroll in university or head to broadway.
“A lot of people tell me to go to school and become the drama teacher, but you know what, it’s not always about a paycheck,” he said.
“I’m fine doing this. It’s my way of giving back to the community.”
Sleeping Beauty and the Jungle Book will be performed at the Vanderhoof Children’s Theatre at Nechako Valley Secondary School at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6, 8, 13, 14 and 15, with a special matinee on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 1 p.m.