Show Review: CYT Houston’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”

Thepeoplescritic.com posted a review about CYT Houston’s, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” yesterday.

Here is a selection from the show review:

“I’m old enough to remember seeing the MGM Technicolor film masterpiece, ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,’ in a real theater on the wide screen. Now, for those lucky enough to get one of the remaining tickets, that delicious musical is available live on the stage of the Crighton Theatre for a very limited time only. If you have been blessed to come across this report in time, be blessed again by going to see the show. You won’t be sorry.

If you have youngsters old enough to sit still at a great show for two hours, by all means bring them along….Your kids will be learning about the real joys the theatre can afford them.

A marvelous group known as Christian Youth Theatre brings us the theatrical magic I am describing….This MTI edition has a book by Lawrence Kasha & David Landay, some new songs by Al Kasha & Joel Hirschhorn, and is skillfully directed here by Ray Pereira with terrific show coordination by Wendy Brasher.

Anchoring this fine production are the extraordinary talents of fourteen year-old Austin Hartis (in the role of the oldest brother, Adam), and seventeen year-old Kaylin Hill (in the role of his bride, Milly).

Several key elements contribute to the success of this production. At the performance I attended the very lovely Miss Hill was enchanting as Milly and she had a gentle sweet voice to match. More than once she reminded me of Jane Powell in the original film.

What was perhaps even more remarkable was the convincing portrayal of Adam by fourteen year-old Mr. Hartis….The pairing of Hill and Hartis is clearly one of the anchors of this production. Another is the extraordinary dancing of the full cast under the brilliant direction of choreographer, Kim Glaspie, with assistance from Tiffany Plunk.

That a cast of nearly fifty youngsters with an average age of thirteen accomplished all this makes the results all the more remarkable. Adding to the glow are the richly colored costumes of designer, Marci Lane and her army of parent volunteers, along with the charming farm country set designs of Rob Holbrook & Brandon Nixon. And if you don’t believe this is farm country, just keep your eyes peeled for real farm animals that include a piglet, a goat and a chicken.

All performed superbly.”


Read the complete show review, written by David Dow Bentley III, here: SEVEN is a Lucky Number for CYT’s, BRIDES & BROTHERS.

Photos by The People’s Critic.

Show Review: CYT Kansas City’s “Mulan Jr.”

The Trailblazer Times published a show review of CYT Kansas City’s “Mulan Jr.” this week.

Here are some excerpts from the review, written by Christina Wilkins:

“The show was directed by Matthew King, with 14-year-old Andrea Stickler playing Mulan, 12-year-old Joshua Carter as Mushu, and 17-year-old James Bouchey portraying Shang. The major theme of the show was that Mulan brought honor to her family in an nontraditional way, by following her heart, using her brain and working hard for the people she loved.

The set was composed of two levels with a temple as the focal point. Additional scenery was created by turning two, ordinary-looking large Chinese fans on either side of the stage to reveal Mulan’s room and garden.

The costumes were inspired by traditional Chinese clothing. The girls wore silk dresses and had buns with chopsticks, while the boys wore silk shirts and black pants. Mushu wore black clothes and carried and gestured with a plush Mushu. The ancestors stood out because they were painted blue to resemble statues or spirits and they wore flowing silver robes.

The show had some humorous moments. The audience laughed when the soldiers suggested to Mulan that they all play strip mahjong.”

Photo taken by The Trailblazer Times

Show Review: CYT West Palm Beach’s Oliver Cast ‘Loud and Strong’

A couple weeks ago, Altartprojects.com posted a show review of CYT West Palm Beach’s Fall production of “Oliver.”

Here is a selection from the review:

“In November, I had the opportunity to see a children’s production of Oliver put on by Christian Youth Theatre of West Palm Beach. For those of you that may not be familiar with the story of Oliver, here’s a quick and dirty summary: Oliver is a young lad of 8 or 9 years who lives in an orphanage with other children around his age. After being mistreated and abused, he runs away from the home and makes his way to London. There he meets the Artful Dodger, Fagin, and his gang of pickpockets. Of course, Oliver gets caught, intrigue and hilarity ensue, and eventually Oliver is reunited with his mother’s sister to live in the lap of luxury and become a proper English gentleman.

The CYT production stuck very close to the story, except that instead of Oliver being played by an English lad of 8 or 9 years, Oliver was played by Indian lass of 8 or 9 years. She was fantastic.

As the lights dimmed and the overture began, I looked around and realized that these kids were performing to a packed house. When the lights went up and the music stopped, I expected to hear stuttering and stammering, the usual opening night jitters. My expectations were dashed because their voices came out loud and strong.

During the intermission, I spoke with the director, Rachel Sharpe, who told me that the kids had rehearsed for nine weeks straight, and out of a cast of 41, maybe 10 kids had been in other shows. She was amazed at the transformation so many of the kids had made in such a short time. In nine weeks they learned lines, lyrics, and choreography. They stayed up late and gave up soccer practice to paint scenery. It’s true that not all of them will be the next Idina Menzel or Joel Grey, but for that short span of time they had joy. And coming close after talent, joy is the second thing you need to succeed in theatre.”

For the latest information on CYT West Palm Beach, check out their Facebook Page.

Show Review: CYT Riverside’s “Willy Wonka”

Here’s another fantastic show review, this time of CYT Riverside’s “Willy Wonka!”

The review, published by the Southwest Riverside News Network and written by Kerri S. Mabee, is posted here in its entirety:

“Theater-goers were packed like candy in a jar into the Old Town Temecula Community Theater on Friday night where the sold-out crowd was treated to an oh-so-sweet production of ‘Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka.’

Presented by the Christian Youth Theater of Riverside County and directed by Jennifer Lloyd, the show featured a very talented, very local group of performers who delivered a fun, contemporary take on the wildly popular tale ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’

The musical tells the tale of an eccentric candy-maker who invites an exclusive group of golden ticket winning children to tour his mysterious, nearly-edible chocolate factory. Backed by an ambitious, super-sized Candyland-style set, the cast enjoyed an opening night performance that saw few jitters and seemed to get stronger with each scene.

Bailey Norris served up charm in the role of Wonka and the Candyman, deftly playing off a strong cast of characters that included a deliciously spoiled Veruca Salt, played by Kiley Rizzo, Nathaniel Parsons’ spunky Mike Teavee, a smart and sassy Violet portrayed by Karlee Abrahamian, and Scott Herrera’s hilarious Augustus Gloop.

Andrew Shroll (Charlie Bucket) impressed with pure, pitch-perfect vocals, joined by a charismatic Grandpa Joe, played by Felix Zamora who proved a strong presence on the stage.

Special mention goes to conductor Doug Knechtel and the Willy Wonka Orchestra and Kiarah Davis, whose Phinecia Trout, delivered some of the best physical comedy of the evening, expressing her exasperation at the absurd and surreal while interviewing the golden ticket winners.

And, the Oompa Loompa interludes, coming as each rotten little youngster managed to get tossed from the tour, were fun, funky, and a whole lot of fabulous. And those Oompettes can sing, just sayin’.

In all, this show is a great family-friendly treat for theater-goers of any age.”

By Kerri S. Mabee

Show Review: CYT Houston “Tom Sawyer” Cast Lights Up the Crighton

Here is a fantastic show review of CYT Houston’s “Tom Sawyer,” written by ThePeoplesCritic.com:

“For those readers who have not yet reserved tickets to the current Christian Youth Theatre production of Tom Sawyer at the Crighton Theatre, be advised that four of the twelve performances in the run have already sold out, and only four more performances remain this weekend. Trust me, this show is in the “not-to-be-missed” category, and having seen what CYT is capable of, I am already making plans to delay my spring trip to New York just long enough so I can catch one of the Seven Brides For Seven Brothers performances the group plans for Crighton Theatre next May.

Why am I so enthused? Let me tell you something. If this show were on Broadway right now it would not surprise me if it settled in for a good long run with its young star, John Bailey, becoming the toast of the town.

He is an absolute joy as Tom Sawyer, sings beautifully, and has naturalness on stage that money cannot buy. But he is not alone. The enormous cast of talented youngsters is delightfully choreographed and flawlessly directed by Amy Barnes (Assistant Director, Dana Crenshaw), with superb musical direction from Mandy Henson, and charming and authentic period costumes from designer, Marci Lane. Jared Barnes designed the many lovely sets with Tom’s house cleverly popping right into the audience. Lighting (John Romain) and Sound (Rick Hill) rounded out the production values that make this show a total gem.

The excitement of an arriving riverboat during the lively opening number, “Here She Comes,” is led by young Jonathan Seberino and the enormous 49-member cast. (I wish I could name them all!) The song is a knockout full of the kind of vibrant energy and utter joy that would prevail throughout the show.

Bailey’s star power is clear as Tom and his gang offer a delicious romp through the cheerful song, “Gratification.” Talented Zane Nixon gets into the action as Huck Finn when he joins Tom, Ben, and Muff Potter (Adam Springer) for the rambunctious and engaging, “A Man’s Gotta Be.” Next, a well-staged graveyard scene is misty and mysterious, and maybe a murder takes place, but maybe not. Soon the action is back in town where Mr. Bailey convinces us he is an absolute charmer as Tom sings the poignant, “If’n I Was God.” Wow! Then Act One ends with another of the many speedy and efficient set changes as we find Tom, Huck and Ben running away on a river raft during the merry tune, “The Promise Land” with its bright solo moments for each of the boys.

Still to come was a spooky cave scene with the ominous Injun Joe (Joshua Bullard) and the best echo sound effects I have heard. There is a sweet “Soliloquy” from Polly and Mary before Tom leads Polly and Muff in a glowing rendition of “I Saw the Light.” The eye-popping and patriotic Fourth of July “Finale” that followed was led by the talented Liberty Girls with a full cast that seemed to brilliantly explode on stage like fireworks personified.

And off stage — somewhere—there was another set of stars: the CYT staff, parents and crew who had made the impossibly wonderful really happen, right there on the Crighton stage. Bravo!”

By The Peoples Critic.

Read the complete review, written by David Dow Bentley III, here: Polished CYT Cast Lights Up the Crighton with TOM SAWYER.

Show Review: CYT Lafayette’s “Beauty & The Beast Jr.”

The News Star reviewed CYT Lafayette’s Spring production of “Beauty and The Beast Jr.” last week

Here are snippets from the review:

“I am enthralled every time I see a group of adolescents perform, because I see in them the hope and future of live theater. After seeing their performance, I was not the slightest bit disappointed in the level of the performing expertise.

I was especially impressed by the performances of Walter Miller (Lefou) and Andrew Palmintier (Maurice). All of the cast must be judged by their abilities to sing, act, as well as dance. These two Thespians more than met the requirements of on-stage competency.

Each of the performers gave their all in that which they did and more than deserve a gigantic HUZZZAH for their efforts.

You can read the complete review here: Kids perform with the élan of any adult.

Also, check out the front page of The Accent (Sunday paper)- featuring the cast of B&B during rehearsals!! Very cool!

Show Review: CYT San Diego’s Just So

A show review of CYT San Diego’s “Just So” was blogged by Family Adventure Guidebooks this week.

Here is a selection from the review:

“I found myself sitting in the audience of ‘Just So Stories’ a wonderful musical inspired by the work of Rudyard Kipling. I didn’t expect much, a children’s play based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling, how could that be relevant for today’s six year olds and for this 38 year old for that matter? Magically, as the musical began to unfold I found that it was. The story had a moral positive message that permeated my soul and brought me a few hours of peace amidst this ocean of craziness. The kids loved it to and were on the edge of their seats for most of the two hour performance.

Everyone involved in this performance, besides the director, was a young person between the ages of 6-18. Even the lighting crew and the stage managers were kids! The colorful sets and costumes were professional quality. The young performers danced and sang like experienced Broadway actors. The story was entertaining with plenty of witty asides for the grownups and more obvious humor for the kids. I was awed that this complex, professional quality production was carried so confidently by a large cast of young actors!

If you and your family find yourselves in Northern San Diego this weekend you should consider attending the next showing of “Just So Stories” at the Star Theater in Oceanside on Saturday at 2pm and 7pm or on Sunday at 2pm.”

You can read the complete review, here.