Zoe Roberts: What it takes to be a theatre kid’s mom

August 24, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Zoe Roberts drives her daughter, Madeleine (Maddi) to Orangeville from Newmarket to participate in the Theatre Orangeville Young Company’s month-long rehearsals and performances of Peter Pan.

Seems like quite a distance, however, Ms. Roberts states without doubt, “If it had been two hours further, I would still done the trip to get her there.”

This is every day, five days a week for a month.

Observing that she was a shy child, Ms Roberts enrolled Maddi in Spotlight Theatre in Newmarket when she was still quite young.

“Watching Madeleine’s self confidence improve,” Ms Roberts told us, “made me determined.”

It is the quality of the productions that has Ms Roberts so pleased to have Maddi participating with the Young Company. As Artistic Director David Nairn remarks, “We give the Young Company a fully professional production so they can see what professional theatre is all about.”

Indeed. Ms. Roberts was glad not to have to scramble to put costumes together and, as she put it, “The fact that I can sit in the audience [to watch the show]. I love the morning drive – it gives me a chance to plan my day.”

More, much more, than this are the lessons the young people are learning from their association with the theatre group under the leadership of Mr. Nairn.

Maddi explained to her mother: “It doesn’t matter whether you have five lines or 5000, everybody’s treated the same.”

Impressed, Ms. Roberts extolled the virtues of the lesson: “What a great thing you’re teaching these kids. I feel blessed that she’s part of it. Next year, she wants to do July and August. We saw Les Mis three times. My son, Nathan, is in a lot of musical theatre and I’m fully in favour of the whole thing.”

At only 12 and nine years old, with Maddi the elder of the two, they both have an agent.

Said Ms. Roberts, “Maddi always wanted to act – ever since she could talk, she wanted to be in the theatre. She wrote her own monologue about her curly hair. She competed in the US with this monologue and did very well. She feels the acting community are family. She can be silly and vulnerable but nobody is going to laugh at her.”

Ms. Roberts continued, “Nathan is my songbird – he sings from morning to night. I talked about some of the programs in the fall [with Theatre Orangeville] but he has some pretty intense work here. Both of them have preferred live theatre over film and TV.”

Although they’re not from a particularly artsy family, Ms. Roberts says, “As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. At the end of the day, if they’re great public speakers – they make eye contact; they’re interested in people – that’s great assets.”

In school systems, they used to have plays, now not even that – “Maddi looks forward to her time with Theatre Orangeville. It’s the staying in touch all year – she’s got a lot of peers that she respects. Whether you’re nine or 16, David has made it clear that everyone is equal. Orangeville is a safe zone – it’s a safe place. You can’t do better than that.

“Our relatives are coming from Gravenhurst and Ottawa to see the show.”

Theatre Orangeville’s production of Peter Pan is on this weekend at the Amphitheatre on Island Lake. Ticket prices include the whole day in the Conservation Area. Please remember to brings blankets and/or chairs for the performance.

For tickets and all the information, visit the Box Office at 87 Broadway and the Information Centre on Buena Vista at Highway 10; call 519-942-3423 or go online to

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