BWW Interviews: A Conversation with Anisa Cameron of Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society
Anisa Cameron was born to be in showbiz. Born in New York, but raised under the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, her grandmother was a Rockette, her father was the lead singer of the Folies Bergere at the Tiffany Theatre inside the Tropicana and her mother, a dancer, was a chorus girl who worked her way up to company manager. Says Cameron, "Vegas in the 80's was, and still is, a place where performers can have a modicum of stability. You can raise a family, own a home and basically live a normal life. Excpet you're working nights. [You can] still have all of the amenities of community and family, without the stress of wondering where your next gig coming from or how you're going to raise your children." Cameron and her brother, a dancer, were more or less raised backstage at the Tiffany Theatre. Although their parents begged and pleaded, both chose to pursue a life in the arts.
Though Cameron says she has been dancing and singing since before she could talk, her love of acting developed when she started performing theatre in junior high. She continued to pursue it at the high school level and studied a year of Theatre Performance at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV). After getting married in 1996, Cameron moved to Montreal where she continued her studies at Concordia University in Theatre & Development, graduating in 2002.
Specializing in community theatre and arts education, Cameron worked for two and a half years at Teesri Duniya, a company dedicated to culturally diverse theatre. Through what she calls a "serendipitous turn of events," Cameron was approached by Bialik High School in Côte Saint-Luc to head their after school theatre program. In the 9 years she has been there, the program has grown from a cast of 27 kids to a cast of more than 60.
Cameron found another opportunity knocking when a student's father, a City Councillor, approached her about establishing a community theatre program in Côte Saint-Luc. With Cameron as Founding Artistic Director, Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society (CSLDS) was born in the summer of 2011. In January 2012, CSLDS produced the hit musical GREASE. In the spring of 2013, CSLDS strategically chose FIDDLER ON THE ROOF as their next production, hoping to make a big splash in the community. Quite a splash they made! Over 3000 people saw the production.
Cameron wanted HAIRSPRAY, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's smash hit, to be the society's next musical, holding two rounds of general auditions. Sadly, they were not able to find the ethnically diverse cast they would need to produce that show. The society had to select another show. What better show for a girl who grew up in Vegas, than Shaiman and Wittman's Tony nominated, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: THE MUSICAL? Full of showstopping, Vegas style production numbers, it all made sense. Cameron laughs, "I often tell the cast, 'this show is my jam!' When I was teaching the girls the showgirl walk, they told me how well I moved. I told them, 'I better!'"
Though CATCH ME IF YOU CAN ran only a short time on Broadway, Cameron feels it will have a healthy career as a show people will want to produce again and again. Says Cameron, "The music is brilliant, there is so much you can do with it and it is so much fun! People are going to be really wowed by this show."
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN is the 6th production for Côte Saint-Luc Dramatic Society. The cast includes 17 year old Brandon Schwartz as Frank Abagnale, Jr., Mike Melino as Carl Hanratty and Matthew Mckeown as Frank, Sr. Musical Direction is by David Terriault with Choregraphy by Alexa Gourd.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN runs from June 3 to June 22, 2014 at the Harold Greenspon Auditorium, 5801 Cavendish Blvd., Côte Saint-Luc, QC. Tickets for evening performances are $27 for Adults and $24 for seniors/students. All previews and Sunday matinees are $18. Tickets are available online at www.CSLDramaticSociety.com or by calling 514-485-6800 ext. 2024