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

“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.