Campbell River teen produces quarantine musical

Ryver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River MirrorRyver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror
Ryver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River MirrorRyver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror
Ryver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River MirrorRyver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror
Ryver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River MirrorRyver Cegnar performs a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Back in March, when it became apparent that coronavirus wasn’t going anywhere, a Campbell River teen visited the hardware store.

He purchased supplies to build a large living-room-sized bus on wheels. Priscilla, as she would be christened, lived on the top floor of Ryver Santos Cegnar’s house.

With mom’s permission, the living room was slowly transformed into the stage and set for Santos Cegnar’s home production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

RELATED: Campbell River musical theatre group brings the magic of Mary Poppins to the stage

The musical has long held a fascination with the 15-year-old artist and actor.

“I am not a drag queen myself, I know the slightest of make-up,” he says. “There’s such big costumes and the set is essentially a big part of it.”

Reef Santos Cegnar perform a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

The musical is based on an Australian movie from the 90s: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The comedy/drama sees two drag queens and a transgender woman travel across the Australian Outback in a bus called Priscilla. The film follows their adventures and the various characters they meet along the way.

The musical was going to be staged in his previous community in Sudbury, Ont., but before he had a chance to take part, his family moved to Campbell River.

RELATED: WATCH: Timberline brings puppets alive for musical production of Avenue Q

Santos Cegnar, an active member of the community is involved with just about every club at Timberline Secondary, where he’ll be a junior this fall. He’s in the musical theatre program, the leadership program, the sport leadership program, the stagecraft program; he’s in the garden club, the eco club and the knitting club.

“Essentially any club you could imagine,” he says.

He’s played many parts throughout his time in theatre, but most recently, he’s played Goodman King in Timberline’s production of Fame, and Harry in their production of Mamma Mia!. He’s played Robertson Ay in Shoreline Musical Theatre Society’s Mary Poppins. In March, he was Nicky in Timberline’s Avenue Q – School Edition.

Ryver and Reef Santos Cegnar perform a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

With public health officials encouraging British Columbians to stay home, Santos Cegnar used the time to work on his informal production of Priscilla. He mixed the music, planned the visual light show, choreographed the show. Then he recruited his family. Nana, Mirian Cegnar helped with costumes; mom, Tanya Cegnar, got training on the light board; and little brother, Reef, got a part in the show.

They rehearsed a few times a week and just two days before the show was set to be live-streamed, they held their first full run-through.

On a rainy night in June, their south Campbell River home is bustling. The shades are drawn in preparation for the dress rehearsal as Mirian does some last-minute stitching on an unfinished costume. Reef stays in his room until the last minute as his older brother sets up the room for the show, moving furniture out of replica Priscilla’s way. Tanya settles in under the lighting truss, control panel in hand and hits play. The first notes of the opening number play through the speakers.

Ryver and Reef Santos Cegnar perform a song during a dress rehearsal for this living room production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in Campbell River, B.C. on June 15, 2020. Photo by Marissa Tiel – Campbell River Mirror

Santos Cegnar had never performed in drag before, but he didn’t shy away from the challenge for the show. Embracing the jukebox musical – where the majority of songs are well-known, rather than original numbers (like Saturday Night Fever, based on the Bee Gees and others; Mamma Mia!, based on ABBA, and Jersey Boys, based on the music of Frankie Valli and Four Seasons) – Santos Cegnar included many numbers in his production, but edited down so it wouldn’t last more than one hour. There’s a dizzying amount of costume changes, all made possible with Mirian’s backstage help. One number sees Santos Cegnar change costumes five times in just three minutes.

RELATED: The Campbell River arts sector prepares to weather COVID-19 storm

Two days after the rehearsal, with social circle friends settled onto the front-row couch and dozens of audience members tuning in from their own homes, the red light on the camera blinks on and the show begins.

With a few hundred views, Santos Cegnar’s living room production is receiving praise from its online viewers. While the spinning set of Priscilla is long disassembled, the creator says there may be more productions on the horizon.

Mamma Mia! has long been a favourite of Santos Cegnar and his friends. They may be belting the catchy ABBA tunes before the summer is out.


@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ArtsCampbell River

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Gettin’ Higher Choir will be performing alongside Wavelengths Community Choir and special guests during an online concert Jan. 30. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria choirs team up for online concert fundraiser

Valdy among performers for free concert

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Scaredy Cats television series has turned Empress Avenue in Fernwood into a Halloween themed neighbourhood. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Trick or treat! Halloween comes to Fernwood in January

New television series Scaredy Cats filming in Victoria

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

Juno-winning Toronto dub poet Lillian Allen is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet for 2021. (Photo courtesy Karen Lee)
Juno-winning dub poet is VIU’s Gustafson Distinguished Poet this year

Lillian Allen will present online lecture, reading and Q-and-A

James Summer, the City of Victoria’s new youth poet laureate. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

Vic High alum James Summer will serve in the role for 2021

There are many options for enjoying a meal out locally during Dine Around and Stay in Town, on now through Feb. 7. (10 Acres Commons)
Dine Around Stay in Town Victoria carries added importance during pandemic

Special menu items for eat in or takeout/delivery, staycation deals available through Feb. 7

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Ty Wesley, Nicole Darlington and Cameron Macaulay (from left) performed in the Beholder Entertainment production <em>Gender Sucks!</em> in the 2020 Nanaimo Fringe Festival. (Video still courtesy Sam Wharram)
Nanaimo Fringe Festival artist lottery open to local and B.C. playwrights

Organizers hope to stage plays in-person at indoor and outdoor venues this summer

Canadian singer-songwriter-actor Joëlle Rabu will join her son, Nico Rhoades, for a livestream performance courtesy the Tidemark Theatre Jan. 29. Photo submitted
Mother/son powerhouses Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes join forces for Island livestream

Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre hosts online music revue

Dr. John Hooper is the new conductor of Island Voices. Photo supplied
Island Voices welcomes new conductor

Dr. John Hooper to lead mid-Island based choir

Most Read