As far back as I can remember the Arts have always been part of my life, but it was in 1989 when eight-year old Gareth fell in love with musical theatre. That summer my parents took me to Rainbow Stage’s production of Peter Pan, and later that year to see the theatrical release of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

I’m not entirely sure why those two moments ignited the first SPARK of my life, but looking back I suspect it was the combination of seeing characters break into song to express their feelings, the creative outlet it provided, and the joy and awe I felt at being part of Peter and Ariel’s stories. Come to think of it, those moments must have also been when I first fell in love with storytelling.

Fast forward 29 years, and my passion for theatre and musicals has only amplified, but so too has the reason why. While the things that spoke to my eight-year old self still do, what means just as much to my 37-year old self is the community I see theatre create for those of us involved in creating productions, and the community it also creates amongst our audiences.

This past Monday I had the privilege of performing in StoryBook Theatre’s production of MisCAST, and in particular in the This Is Me number from Pasek and Paul’s musical The Greatest Showman. In this song Lettie Lutz sings “I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.” What I love so much about this song is that it reminds us to authentically and unapologetically be ourselves, and that hope and love are two of the most powerful forces on Earth. Find your passion. Find your community. Be YOU!