Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals Highlights Windsor’s Young Talent

(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.

Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals Variety Show cast members

Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals Variety Show cast members performing during their dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals Variety Show Includes Todrick Hall scene from Chicago the Musical

Cast members of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show performing Todrick Hall, the final scene from the musical Chicago, during their dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Yasmine Sole and Kayla McArdle Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals Variety Show

Yasmine Sole and Kayla McArdle performing a scene from the Little Mermaid during dress rehearsal as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Stella Cox and Celeste Jackson Revolution Youth Theatre

Stella Cox and Celeste Jackson singing Gaston, from Beauty and the Beast, as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Teagan Grace Smallhorn Revolution Youth Theatre

Teagan Grace Smallhorn singing I Wonder as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals cast members Taran Robertson Thompson and Celeste Jackson

Taran Robertson Thompson and Celeste Jackson performing Suppertime from You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Lydia Deelstra and Taran Robertson Thompson Revolution Youth Theatre

Lydia Deelstra and Taran Robertson Thompson performing as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Cody Drouillard Revolution Youth Theatre

Cody Drouillard emceeing Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Brianna Morneau Revolution Youth Theatre

Brianna Morneau singing during the Scales and Arpeggios scene from the Aristocats as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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.

Dakota Rossel and Kayla McArdle Revolution Youth Theatre

Dakota Rossel and Kayla McArdle performing I See the Light from Tangled as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Brianna Morneau and Teagan Grace Revolution Youth Theatre Musical Cast Members

Brianna Morneau and Teagan Grace Smallhorn performing I Just Can’t Wait to be King form the musical the Lion King as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Teagan Grace Smallhorn

Teagan Grace Smallhorn singing Burn from the musical Hamilton as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Yasmine Sole and Kayla McArdle Revolution Youth Theatre

Yasmine Sole and Kayla McArdle performing as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals Variety Show cast members

Revolution Youth Theatre Musicals Variety Show cast members performing the Hard Knock Life scene from the musical Annie, during their dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Kayla McArdle

Kayla McArdle performing as part of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show during dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Cody Drouillard Revolution Youth Theatre

Cody Drouillard leading the cast of Revolution Youth Theatre’s Musicals variety show in the curtain call during the final dress rehearsal at the Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario, on Thursday, January 2, 2020. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

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

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Robert Tuomi

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.