Mantaj Bains, Kerry Van Sickle, Jessica Milliken, Langley’s own Emily MacKinnon, Deanne Ratzlaff and fellowLangleyite Kailea De Leon rehearse for Bard in the Valley’s upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing. (Special to the Langley Advance)

VIDEO: Langley actor brings growth from Shakespearean studies to Bard stage

Aldergrove’s Kailea De Leon aspires to act full-time for stage and screen.

#dead.

When Aldergrove’s Kailea De Leon started whispering to one of her fellow actors during rehearsal last week, this was the short and simple reply she received.

The 29-year-old actor was feeling particularly “silly” that day, and while her character, Hero, was lying on the ground – after being rejected on at her wedding – she turned to another member of the cast and started talking.

“I casually remarked to Meg (Jessica) that it was the worst day ever, and she responded ‘hashtag dead.’

“I couldn’t contain myself and burst out laughing.

Needless to say De Leon’s subsequent fit of giggle interrupted a monologue by her “poor mother” Leonata (Charity), and she’s still not sure if she’s truly been forgiven for the outburst.

De Leon is preparing for her fourth Bard in the Valley (BIV) production, Much Ado About Nothing, which opens next week in Fort Langley.

And while being part of the BIV cast has many such moments of silliness and humour, it has also offered countless challenges – “both emotionally and textually” as De Leon tackles what she calls “some meaty bits” as one of this year’s leads.

In addition to acting in this year’s production, De Leon noted she’s also doing a bit of singing, guitar playing, and dancing for Much Ado.

While she has participated in the 2014 production of Julius Caesar, the 2015 showing of Love’s Labour’s Lost, and last year’s production of Taming of the Shrew, this year’s production holds significant meaning for De Leon.

She’s has grown truly enamoured with Shakespeare’s work, in part thanks to her involvement with BIV. So much so, in fact, that she headed to England last year for a semester of classical acting studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art – all to improve her craft.

“As it focused mainly on Shakespeare, with a bit of comedy of manners sprinkled in, it has definitely helped me have a better fluidity in understanding the text,” she shared with the Langley Advance.

De Leon is anxious to put all she learned to the test and is no stranger to acting. She works in the film and TV industry, still as a background performer and stand-in while working to clock enough time to become part of the union.

She’s currently working 55 hours a week on Project MC2, and has performed with Monumental Theatre, as well as Theatre in the Country/Theatre in the Grove. She’s also currently rehearsing one of Fighting Chance Productions’ shows, A Chorus Line.

Aspiring since childhood to make acting her profession, De Leon dreams of a day when she can hopefully finding a balance between on stage and on screen work.

Squeezing in rehearsals three times a week for Much Ado has definitely been a challenge.

“I am delighted to be part of Much Ado…” she said. “I auditioned because I thought it would be great to work with Dylan as a director. I admire his work and his vision, and wanted to experience it first hand. I am very happy with my decision to audition, and his decision to cast me.”

This is Bard in the Valley’s eighth season, and admission is still free at 11 of the 16 performances.

“We have poured our hearts and souls into this one,” De Leon said. “There will be laughter, tears, music, and dance; I dare you not to enjoy it.”

Summer 2017 performance dates:

The Shakespearean production, being directed by Dylan Coulter, will be showing 16 times this summer, on three different stages, between June 29 and July 30.

• On the lawn in front of Fort Langley’s historic community hall. Admission is free. June 29 and 30, as well as July 1 (as part of the Canada Day celebrations) – performances begin at 7 p.m.

• At the Township 7 Winery – Tickets are $20 by calling 604-532-1766 or email wine@township7.com. Those shows run July 7, 8, 9, 14, and 15. The Sunday, July 9 performance is a matinee, beginning at 2 p.m. The others are evening performances starting at 7 p.m.

• On the Spirit Square stage in Douglas Park in Langley City. Admission is again free on July 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, and 30. The Sunday performances are matinees and begin at 2 p.m. The rest are evening performances begin at 7 p.m.

For more information about the Bard in the Valley Theatre Company people can visit their website.

• See related story: Langley actor takes turn in director’s chair of Bard’s Much Ado

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