Brandon Mindel was the Cat in the Hat for CSOPA’s production of Seussical the Musical in December.

Brandon Mindel: At home on the stage

A family that plays together stays together. For the Mindel family, truer words were never spoken. They are fully engaged as a family, especially when it comes to their involvement in the world of theatre.

From the time that Brandon Mindel was just a little tyke, you could tell that he was a special child. “He had a sassy spirit,” said his obviously proud mother, Lisa. He was evidently not shy and was filled with great humour; a real jokester to be sure. Lisa was quick to add, “His humour and his sense of humour come from his father. When he was a little guy, he loved to dress up and every pose was so natural. Even then you could pinpoint that one day he’d be in theatre.” He credits his kindergarten and grade one teacher, Mrs. Gemma Gillis, with encouraging his dynamic and artistic abilities. “I had Mrs. Gillis during my formative years and she was just the best,” he said with admiration.

During the winter of 2005, when Brandon was thirteen, he was invited by a friend to the Chilliwack School of Performing Arts’ (CSOPA) ‘bring a friend night.’ They hung out and played theatre games. By the spring of 2006, Brandon had signed up for theatre courses. He was hooked. “I have always wanted to be a stand-up comic. That is my long term goal. I enjoy making people laugh. I want people to be happy,” he said convincingly. Brandon also enjoys the thought of working on a television show. He enjoys the idea of having a plot change every week. “For me, in Chilliwack, musical theatre is the closest thing to what I’m interested in,” he said.

From then on, his resume reads like one of a well seasoned actor, having starred in at least fifteen on-stage presentations. “I was LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and most recently the Cat in the Hat in Seussical: The Musical,” he listed. He’s also taken extensive classes and workshops through CSOPA, in addition to studying voice for four years.

His mother, Lisa and father, Kevin have long recognized his passion and they have always supported his long-term vision. Sisters Megan and Emma have also taken to the stage and thus, the family dedicates the greatest majority of their time, to this art form. Kevin has owned Alliance Truss for the last nine years and his profession lends well to the role of lead builder for the CSOPA sets. Kate Whyte, who is a professional set designer out of Vancouver, designs the sets and Kevin, along with other volunteer parents, begin the building process. “For about five months, it consumes my life. It takes well over 2000 volunteer hours to build a set. At times, I’m working ten hours a day, six days a week. I take six weeks off of work to build them. Our latest set for Seussical: The Musical cost about $10,000 to build and the mountain was twenty-one feet high. I do love it,” he smiled. Lisa quickly added,” It’s certainly exciting and exhilarating to see the beauty that’s created by many hands. People do what they can and it really doesn’t matter how much time they give. Many hands make light work and it’s the fact that you give of your time, not how much of it you give.”

Brandon’s appreciation of music and movies is quite eclectic. He’ll go from watching silent movies one moment to documentaries the next. “It’s all an art form and I enjoy it all,” he admitted.

Currently, Brandon is enrolled at the University of the Fraser Valley’s two year theatre diploma program. He has also signed on with an agent and with his undeniable talent, drive, determination, dependability, artistic ability, a mature and articulate manner and an absolute passion for acting; it’ll inevitably lead to a part in a movie or television show in the very near future.

Once he graduates from UFV, his plan is to move to Vancouver to attend the Vancouver Theatre Sports League, an internationally renowned comedy improv school.  After that, he intends to move to Chicago to attend the Second City Training Centre, the largest school of improvisation and sketch comedy in the world. “Mike Myers and all of the Canadian comedians attended there and that’s how they were picked to be on Saturday Night Light,” he said in a resolved manner.

In as much as Brandon possesses a talent for acting, he’s also very real. He doesn’t go through life in character. His family keeps him grounded; something that he’s thankful for. He’s also appreciative for their support and dedication. “My dad has never missed any of my performances. Not many parents do that.” They buy their tickets, almost as soon as they go on sale, and they sit front and center. Kevin becomes the professional clapper while Lisa has assumed the cheering role.

Brandon has also seen recent affirmation of his skill. He took a gold medal in 2009 at the Lions Music Festival, two gold medals and the musical theatre comedy trophy at the Festival’s 2010 awards presentation and most recently MVP honours after the Seussical: The Musical presentation.

“The dedication and devotion that Brandon has given to his craft and CSOPA has kept him on the straight and narrow. He’s been absolutely amazing through his adolescent changes because he desires something for his life. The work ethic and dedication that these kids show is nothing short of phenomenal,” said Lisa.

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