(Dakota Drouillard and Brianna Morneau performing in the Hard Knock Life scene from the musicl Annie as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)
Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals, a fascinating and always pleasing variety show, this year directed by Taran Robertson Thompson, brings to the forefront some of the most talented and aspiring young members of the local theatre community. The young, 22-member cast brings to the stage a generous mix of songs, many from well-known musicals, and highly original skits.
In one mini-play, eight cast members show just how good they are by singing as badly as possible. It is actually a lot harder to sing terribly than it is to sing well. Titled, appropriately enough, Bad Singing, a woman is seen giving instructions to a perfectly good choir. Her advice, probably contrary to anything they have ever been taught, produces some of the worst singing ever on a local stage.
Just then a gentleman walks in and introduces himself as the choral director. When questioned about her name, the woman responds, “I was just leaving,” and does. The real choir master shakes his head and to no one in particular demands a casting call to replace the whole group.
Casting call is actually the premise of another skit. Musicians waiting for their call are belittling a triangle player, played by Celeste Jackson, who sits among them. They complain the instrument only has one note. In her defence, Jackson claims she is able to play many notes “which just happen to be the same.”
Will she make it through the audition? The answer might surprise.
And while the skits, somewhat of a tradition with the annual variety show, this is the Company’s fifth, are hilarious, they also add another aspect to an enjoyable evening filled to the brim with great songs and even greater singers with hummable tunes and scenes from beloved musicals acted out with great dexterity. What is most notable is the range of singing capabilities. The voices are head clear and with distinction and are enhanced by the intimate nature of the Shadowbox Theatre. They have a vocal quality and purity reminiscent of what is heard on Broadway stages in New York.
Masterfully, Robertson Thompson has combined unique voices that blend together so intricately, particularly on duets. A good example of the high calibre of the cast is Amber Milne. She has a particularly powerful voice that brings with it a unique ability to captivate and does so with other cast members on two selections from the play Rent, being Take Me or Leave Me and Seasons of Love.
Celeste Jackson displays an incredible and polished ability to whistle and does it so well in Suppertime from You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown while director Robertson Thompson himself displays another side to his talent in two duet sessions with special guest Lydia Deelstra. It turns out he is an accomplished saxophonist while Deelstra does wonders with her Fender six-string guitar. No surprise that such talent is now joined together in the popular local duet, Lydia and Taran Music, seen at various musical events.
Throughout the evening the whole production is tied together by master of ceremonies Cody Drouillard. He delivers on a tightly written script which provides information on each number and he does it like a veteran performer, one of the show’s many delights.
For some, being on the stage is a brand-new experience particularly for Brianna Morneau. The cute as a button singer and actress told Eyes On Windsor about her one goal, to be famous one day. Given her considerable talent, young as she is, she is on the right track.
Shana Thibert told Eyes on Windsor of others who are doing their first work in live theatre and she wasn’t talking about the actors. Jordan Kennedy on lighting and Zack Faulkner on sound were enjoying their initial baptism by fire, so to speak. Kennedy had no previous lighting experience and took to it instantly with less than a day of training.
Being able to jump into the technical aspects of a play is one of the purposes of Revolution Youth Theatre. It cast members are basically teenagers, from ages 12 to 21, and are given the opportunity to participate in all aspects of a live production, from set construction, lighting, makeup and costumes, to even playwriting. And they do it without having to pay for the experience.
The Company provides all of this free to all participants. The reason is based on the simple premise of financially-challenged youth having the same opportunities to experience theatre as their counterparts from more advantaged families.
Musicals opens at the Shadowbox Theatre on Friday, January 3 at 7pm. Additional performances will be on January 4, at 7pm as well, and on Sunday, January 5, at 4pm.
Tickets are $10 each. There is a family bundle at $30, for two adults and two children. Tickets are available at the door or by calling 226-345-9891
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.