EDSS drama offers up Merlin and Arthur, the early years

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Hadley Mustakas (Morgana), Simon Zenker (Merlin), Garret Tracey (Arthur) and Maddie McCormick (Gwen) will be performing The Magical Adventures of Merlin alongside fellow EDSS cast members during their production Dec. 1-9.
Hadley Mustakas (Morgana), Simon Zenker (Merlin), Garret Tracey (Arthur) and Maddie McCormick (Gwen) will be performing The Magical Adventures of Merlin alongside fellow EDSS cast members during their production Dec. 1-9. [Ali Wilson / The Observer]
Action, adventure and magic  are what the Elmira District Secondary School fall production has in store for audience members next week.

A cast of some 30 students will be performing their rendition of The Magical Adventures of Merlin, the story of how a young Merlin meets a young, soon-to-be king Arthur in a mythical, ancient England.

“It is just a very fun show to watch. The energy in it, the jokes that are in it, the action and the dance – it is just complete eye candy,” said EDSS drama teacher DJ Carroll. “The show, The Magical Adventures of Merlin, is the story of King Arthur and The Sword in the Stone, but it is told from Merlin’s perspective.”

“We chose this story because it has got music, dance, comedy, sword fights and magic in it, so it’s really got everything.”

Led by Grade 11 student and school production veteran Simon Zenker, the young Merlin helps his friend Arthur, played by Grade 12 student Garret Tracey, claim his kingdom. But not without a little bit of help from the heroine, Gwen (Maddie McCormick), who helps the two young gentleman battle the evil villain, Morgana le Fay (Hadley Mustakas).

“Simon is a senior drama student at the school who is already a very accomplished juggler and performer,” Carroll said of the young actor. “He is really bringing a unique life to the character as a young Merlin, putting just the right amount of teen attitude into it, as well as having that very fun boyish kind of charm.”

Embodying similarities to Merlin, magical powers aside, Zenkers boyishness works well to keep the performance light.

“He is a very young magician just learning magic and he is having some trouble with his spells. He is really developing his magic throughout the play and he is a pretty snazzy, fun-loving guy,” said Zenker of his role.

However, Merlin isn’t the only adolescent character who finds himself over the course of the play.

“I am the son of the king and I believe that I am the one that is supposed to draw the sword, so this story is kind of like my development of a character, building up to that position that I believe I should be in,” Tracey said of his role.

“I am still kind of kid-ish, still developing traits. I am still a little bit arrogant. I am not very humble at this point and there are things that I don’t quite think through. This story is kind of about my characters development in that sense.”

Although Merlin and Arthur are main characters in the production they are not without a strong female sidekick on their journey.

“Guinevere eventually joins Arthur and Merlin on their journey to rescue the kingdom. What I think is cool is that I don’t play the damsel in distress: she helps them in their battles and represents more of a strong female character,” said McCormick of her role as Gwen.

Sword fighting, song, dance and of course a little bit of magic – the show brings a bit of everything to the stage.

“It is a very fun family show that is just a joy to watch, and I think that anybody who comes out to it would feel the same way,” said Carroll.

The Magical Adventures of Merlin runs at EDSS December 7, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time through the school, picked up at the door or from any cast members starting this week.