Behind the Curtain with Kale Penny

Kale Penny, one of the leads in Sleeping Beauty

As the holidays begin, you are probably looking for something to do with your family, For those who love music and fairy tales and are just looking for a genuinely good time, look no further than Drayton Entertainment, a theatre company across Ontario. There are seven theatres in all; the Drayton Festival Theatre in Drayton, the Hamilton Family Theatre Cambridge in Cambridge, the Huron Country Playhouse and Playhouse II in Grand Bend, the King’s Wharf Theatre in Penetanguishene, and St. Jacobs Country Playhouse and the Schoolhouse Theatre in St. Jacobs.

At the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, the cast and crew are celebrating another successful pantomime. A pantomime is retelling a popular fairy tale using songs from today and referencing current events both globally and municipally. This year, the Playhouse is doing Sleeping Beauty! Having seen it myself many times as an usher, I’m positive you will enjoy the delightful enthusiasm and humour from both the cast and the audience.

I was recently invited to sit down with one of the cast members of the show, Kale Penny, who plays both Prince Harry and Jerry, the younger brothers of Sleeping Beauty’s betrothed, before and after the curse.

When did you begin acting? What was your first role?

I began acting pretty young. I don’t remember what my first role was in school, but my first professional role that I did was in Little Shop of Horrors and I puppeteered the plants.

Did that performance hook you for the future?

It did, but I was hooked before that, from when I saw theatre for the first time.

Who were the people in your life who influenced you?

One of them was a guy named Andrew Coundeen. When I was thirteen, I saw a production of Kiss Me Kate at the high school I was going to be going to. He was one of the gangsters in it, and I remember he shot the oboe player with a cap-gun in one part for playing the wrong note, and I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen and that was a very specific moment, where I was like, “Oh, that looks fun, I want to do that.”

And of course, my drama teacher, Drew Kemp, he was a big influence on me too. And now a modern influence would be my wife.

What has been your favourite role to play so far and why?

It was playing Jack Kelly in Newsies this summer, here. It was a total dream role. I could have done it forever if they’d let me.

Describe a memorable moment in your acting career.

There’s lots of them, but coming out here to do Rock of Ages for the first time was memorable. I didn’t really know anyone out here, and that was my first show [at Drayton Entertainment]. I hadn’t even met anyone. I only sent in a tape to get the role, so I hadn’t even met Alex [Mustakus, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment] yet. It felt very strange to go into a show not knowing a single person, but everyone was really nice and welcoming, so that show as a whole would be a really memorable moment.

What is your favourite number to perform in Sleeping Beauty?

I don’t think it’s a number, or a specific song in Sleeping Beauty. I really like doing the scene at the beginning of Act Two, when [Alex Kelly and I] are Ben and Jerry and we discover the palace and we have to talk to the audience. I really like doing that scene. 

Oh yeah, it’s super fun! Especially with all the different things that the audience says, especially the kids. They always have fun things to say.

Rehearing that was tough, I didn’t know really know what was going to be until we were in front of the audience and then it all made sense.

Is this your first pantomime?

It is, I’ve never done one before. 

Does it feel weird having so many kids calling out to you on stage?

It’s different, for sure, but you get used to it really quickly. The panto requires it, it makes more sense once you do it in front of people then when you’re rehearsing it, which is interesting.

What is your advice to up-and-coming actors?

One thing I always say is make sure you’re a good person to work with. I think being talented and hardworking and all those things are great, and that’s what’s going to get you a role, but the only thing that’s going to get you hired back is if they actually enjoy working with you. One more piece of advice is to diversify your skills. Every little thing you want to learn could help you be a performer. Like if you want to learn how to juggle or whatever it is, you never know when that’s going to come in handy, so try a lot of things.

Sleeping Beauty will be playing at Huron Country Playhouse II and will be running from July 2nd to July 18th. Tickets can be bought at the box office or online at draytonentertainment.com.