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.

CYT Houston’s “Tom Sawyer” Cast Chats Camaraderie

CYT Houston students John Bailey and Zane Nixon are best friends both on stage and off- they play buddies Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in CYT Houston’s current production of “Tom Sawyer.”

According to The Courier of Montgomery County, “the best friends in real life have found that the roles of Sawyer and Finn have come quite naturally.” Here’s what Nixon (Finn) told the paper:

“We know how to do the best friend thing, so it’s much easier to show it on stage because it’s like real life.”

Bailey said, “he likes to be with his friends” and has been told, “he has a mischievous side,” much like Tom Sawyer.

You can read the article in its entirety, here: CYT stages classic ‘Tom Sawyer’ at the Crighton.

CYT Indy Performs to Record Attendance – In Spite of the Weather!

Ice Storm! Even on a week when you have nothing planned, it is a scary phrase.

Have tech week planned and those are words that can cause doubt amongst the strongest CYT believers. How do you get it all done when the Ice Storm of the Century is bearing down upon you? Well, that was the week leading up to CYT Indy’s Tom Sawyer Production. As the first Dress Rehearsal was in full swing on Monday, we could hear ice pelting the stage door. Time to let everyone go home early- safety first! The ice continued on Monday night and on Tuesday, everything was shut down – businesses, roads, and most importantly – schools! 1/2″ of ice equals no rehearsal! Wednesday came and most of the city remained shut down, including schools, but by Wednesday afternoon, the roads were passable and the CYT Indy Staff found an alternative rehearsal spot.

All 100 kids, cast and crew, came together and put their collective hearts into fine tuning the show! Thursday was lurking and so were our planned school day performances. If school was cancelled again, what would we do about those performances? Could they be rescheduled for Friday?

And so it was that school was cancelled on Thursday and the angst over whether we would have school day performances on Friday was still there, but at least we could have a real final dress rehearsal into our venue.  As it were, Friday came and there was a two hour school delay, but WE WOULD PERFORM. Schools that had planned to travel for our performance rescheduled and at  11am on February 4th, the show went on! That morning, 413 students saw the production.

Over the course of the weekend, it snowed some more, but we never had to cancel any shows and we played to record attendance. It was truly a week of doing what we could do and letting God handle the rest! Faith played out in real time in real ways!

Hats off to the Cast, Crew, and Parents of CYT Indy’s Tom Sawyer for their flexibility and perseverance! The CAN DO attitude is reaching more and more people each time, not matter what Mother Nature throws at you!

Contributed by Trish Hunter

CYT Indianapolis Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters Program

Photo courtesy of

CYT Indianapolis is partnering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, for their current production of “Tom Sawyer!”

An article featuring CYT Indy ran this week at According to the article,

“The Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship program will benefit from the Christian Youth Theater’s production of ‘Tom Sawyer,’ thanks to a community partnership program the theater started in 2010….It’s the second community-based partnership in the theater’s new Bringing Art to Life program, which teams with local nonprofits to encourage community service.”

Artistic Director Mandy Polster told the newspaper,

“Thematically driven community service has a deeper educational impact….Big Brothers Big Sisters is devoted to helping boys and girls grow into the next generation of caring, confident and competent adults. CYT wants to impress upon our students that being in the spotlight, while fun and rewarding, is not the ultimate goal. We are called to love and serve one another.”

In addition to the show productions, CYT Indianapolis will host theater workshop at the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Downtown facility on Feb. 20. Dance, song and improv workshops will be offered.

Read the complete article here: ‘Tom Sawyer’ musical is partnership.
Keep your eyes peeled- we’ll post images from Tom Sawyer soon!

Parent Update: CYT Indy Building Lifelong Memories

Can you look back into your childhood and pick out one decision that shaped you for life? One single decision to do or not do something that came to define who you are? For my daughter, that decision is pretty easy . It happened the day she went to the organizational meeting of CYT Indianapolis.

I can still remember the room of parents and children anxiously awaiting information about this new theatre opportunity. As parents listened to the vision of CYT, the kids were whisked away to learn a song and dance routine. Less than an hour later, the kids returned and wow’d us all! As we drove home, I asked my then 10 year old if she would like to take a class or two when CYT Indy started up. It was a typical, “yeah, sure I guess” response.

That was two years ago, and my daughter is now committed to and invested in the future of CYT Indy. She will tell you that it is the most important thing to her right now and I have no doubt that 20 years from now, she will look to CYT and the moment she said “yeah, sure I guess,” as one of the most important things that ever shaped who she is. And I know, based on what I see and hear every week, she is not alone.

When I started to write this blog, I intended to ask the CYT family to provide one word that summed up CYT Indy to them. Little did I know that in preparation for Tom Sawyer, CYT Indy’s 6th production, our Public Relations team was planning a unique video which encapsulated that same feeling. Now, I could write a lot of words, like “Awesome, Committed, and Family” but you would have to imagine the feelings behind those words, and why do that when we can just show you the pure joy of it all!

Each production in the last two years has its own special memories. From the students and parents in Fall of 2009 finding our way through “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” to the Fall 2010 production of “Honk” which saw CYT Indy’s first sold out performance, the organization has grown in number and influence. And each time a new family joins, the group opens it arms wide and envelopes them. It is awe inspiring. Who knows what memories Tom Sawyer will bring. All I know for sure is that these memories are forever etched in the minds of a bunch of young people (and adults), who love theater, love each other, and truly love the Lord!