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Synergy at Play's Musical Theatre Intensive returns this summer

A homegrown musical theatre training program that prepares young actors for the world stage is setting its sights on long-term expansion.
Students of the Synergy at Play Musical Theatre Intensive apply their skills through live performances in summer 2023.

A homegrown musical theatre training program that prepares young actors for the world stage is setting its sights on long-term expansion. 

Synergy at Play, a nonprofit dedicated to creative performance and education, was founded by Gibsons residents Bill Moysey and Varya Moysey-Rubin in 2008. The two established Synergy’s Musical Theatre Intensive a decade later, just two years before Moysey — a multifaceted performer and technician — died following a struggle with lung cancer. 

Moysey-Rubin has continued to coordinate the summertime weeks-long intensive training for young performing artists. In 2020, the troupe mounted an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Gibsons Heritage Farm and followed it with immersive Hallowe’en performances. Last year, the group’s training culminated in a full-length revue titled Mystical Musicals that ran at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. 

“I’ve been watching some of these kids develop since they were seven or eight years old,” said Moysey-Rubin. “It’s amazing to know I’ve had the honour of supporting these kids’ creative and personal evolution and journey, strengthening what they can present to the world because they’ve been given these skill sets in particular.” 

Ana Gonabadi, a stage artist who now lives and works in Manhattan, began studying with Moysey-Rubin at the age of 8 and credits her as a major contributor to their development as a performer. Gonabadi has returned to teach with Synergy at Play as its assistant director for three years, imbuing fledgling stars with front-line knowledge. 

Moysey-Rubin’s program features intensive training of preteens and teens that includes more than 40 hours of workshops leading to a staged performance with song, dance and drama. It’s unique, she explained, because of its emphasis on readying artists for the professional theatre world. 

“The kids who choose to come are ready to really dive in and focus their skills,” she said. “What they walk away with they can take into post-secondary institutions if they choose to go in that direction.” 

Under Moysey-Rubin’s direction, Synergy at Play is implementing an expansion of its training for summer 2024. Caitlin Beaupré, a Gibsons-based singer and music director, will run a newly instituted mini theatre camp for youngsters aged six to 10. 

It’s part of the nonprofit’s strategy to expose aspiring performers to seasoned artists. Beaupré herself holds a master’s degree in voice performance from the University of British Columbia, and sang with the Juno-nominated Vancouver vocal ensemble musica intima. 

Moysey-Rubin is determined that her instructors and assistants receive fair compensation. Hewing to such a standard, she explained, shows respect and attracts high-quality role models.  

It comes at a cost. Synergy at Play has launched a fundraising campaign to attract financial commitments from corporate and grassroots donors, lowering tuition barriers for students and building new programming. The pitch is focused especially on arts devotees who have retired to the Sunshine Coast, and seek to invest in building the global arts community. 

“We want to work with young professionals to draw them in and give them the right context and contacts for getting into the industry,” Moysey-Rubin added. “I’m hoping to host casting director workshops and film and and television industry workshops, to really bring that aspect of the Vancouver film and television industry scene to the Sunshine Coast.” 

Registration for Synergy at Play youth programming is available online at The same website includes detailed information on opportunities for sponsorship and support. This summer’s Musical Theatre Intensive performances will take place on July 27 and 28.