Revolution Youth Theatre put on a fun and entertaining production during their 4th Annual Variety Show, Through The Ages, at The Shadowbox Theatre, on Friday night (Jan. 4). The show opened with Cody Tersigni, the evening’s emcee, welcoming the audience to a night of skits, song, and dance, put together by the youth ranging in age from 8 to 23 years old. “Together we’re going to go on a journey through time starting in the Twentieth Century and travelling through all the way to the Twenty-First Century,” explained Cody.
The first act kicked off with a 1930s scene featuring the show’s director, Taran Thompson (saxophone), and Lydia Deelstra (guitar). The duo performed a jazzy musical piece depicting the struggles and hardships many people of the era experienced. The 1930’s concluded with Taylor Thibert’s spectacular singing of Over The Rainbow made famous by Judy Garland in her 1939 starring role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Taylor was joined by several cast members on stage taking on charter roles from the movie. One of the youngest and newest cast members, Adony Wilson, made for an adorable Munchkin.
Nicky Kiteley and Zane Cox took the audience into a 1940’s original skit, written by Taran Thompson, called Killed in Action. The pair had the crowd chuckling as their WWII soldier characters discover one’s wife is the other’s girlfriend. Next the journey reached the 1950’s with Yasmine Sole, singing a first class rendition of Connie Francis’ classic “Stupid Cupid”. As emcee Cody stated, “what a great song to represent the decade.”
The 1950’s was also a big decade for Disney which released two classics, Cinderella and Peter Pan. Revolution Youth Theatre, in an all original skit, shared with the audience what it would be like if the main characters met. “Cindy and Peter’ was very well done by the cast and one of our favourite scenes. A pouty Tinkerbell, was well played by Emily Pinkney, perhaps a little jealous of Peter looking for Cindy’s shoe.
Through The Ages was “far out” by the time the 1960’s hit. A decade known for protests, youth revolution movements, and hippies, also saw the emergence of Disco music as it came to an end. In a Revolution Youth Theatre original, appropriately titled, “Groovy,” the cast had lots of fun showing the audience what would happen when Hippies meet Disco. Ultimately, the result was a big groovy dance party full of funk on the stage!
Cast members Yasmine, Kayla McArdle, Teagan Smallhorn, and Michael Momney danced their way into the 1970s, where Taran and Lydia performed a great cover of Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty’s chart topping “Baker Street.” Taran ripped off his white button down shirt, revealing his funky sparkling gold shirt, while boogying down as he performed the haunting saxophone riff the song is known for. Kayla then took centre stage for a heartfelt singing of Billy Joel’s 1976 fan favourite release, “New York State of Mind.” Joel famously played the song at The Concert for New York City, the October 2001 benefit concert for first responders of the 9/11 terrorist attack. But before getting to the Twenty-First Century, Teagan and Taran closed out the 1970’s with a reenactment of a hilarious Sesame Street classic featuring Bert and Ernie. The crowd chuckled as Ernie ends up eating all the licorice he had brought home to share with Bert.
The second act featured nostalgic 1980’s songs, dance, and choreography. The scenes included Teagan singing ABBA’s “Andante Andante”, Celeste Jackson covering Soft Cell’s classic “Tainted Love”, and several cast members closed out the decade with Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” anthem. The audience also enjoyed participating, from their seats, the “Macarena” dance while Los del Rio’s song of the same name played! In between, the audience enjoyed a dance performance featuring Kayla and Teagan’s 80’s dance moves, and another original skit by Taran Thompson. His skit was a twist on the 1980’s classic, Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The skit narrated by Meghan Dunn, as she sat cross legged stageside reading from a story book, during this “Under The Sea” adventure, was a nice touch.
Timothy Hole, member of Windsor’s Leave Those Kids Alone band, opened the 1990s scenes. Hole performed an outstanding acoustic cover of English rock group Oasis’ 1995 award winning “Wonderwall”. Following a 1990’s dance routine the cast recreated an audience favourite scene, complete with the absurdities of everyday life in New York City, from TV sitcom, Seinfeld, a show that helped define the decade. The infamous Soup Nazi episode recreated Kramer recommending a new soup stand where the owner demanded a strict manner of behaviour from his patrons when placing an order. The audience laughed a lot during the performance.
The variety show hip hopped into the 2000’s with an upbeat dance scene put on by Kayla, Teagan, Yasmine, and Taran. The upbeat routine included Chris Brown’s 2007 release “Kiss Kiss” featuring rapper T-Pain. Following the dance, Celeste and Stella Cox stepped onto the stage with ukuleles in hand to perform a song about finally giving into love and life’s possibilities. The duo sang an amazing cover of the Jason Mraz song “I’m Yours”.
Todrick Hall, who Revolution Youth Theatre named one of their scenes after, first gained popularity in late 2009 as a finalist on American Idol. The singer, actor, dancer, director, drag queen, choreographer, songwriter and YouTuber, later became a fan favourite judge and choreographer on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The Todrick Hall scene was the most rehearsed time-wise than any other. It featured Taylor, Kayla, Teagan, and Yasmine, putting on an outstanding dance routine while singing to a mix of hit songs coming out of the 2000s. Tracks in the mix included everything from Nelly’s “Hot In Here” and Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” to Linkin Park’s “In The End”. This was one of the most stand out moments of the show with lyrics and song flowing as seamlessly as the dance routine.
The final act of the decade, and of the show, was another Revolution Youth Theatre original which is either titled “In The Wild” (as announced by emcee Cody), or “Nature Documentary” (as published in the plays program booklet). Regardless, the act was a delightfully humorous satire. Poking fun at today’s youth, the scene highlighted, among other trends, Millennials socializing by sitting together, without speaking, and staring into their mobile phones. “We find it (Millennials) in its natural habitat, its parents basement, here to spend the next few years of its life finding itself,” one line in the scene states. The crowd filled with laughter as the Millennials ran in fear when a group of Gen Zs approached with their Fidget Spinners. This well done scene would make for a splendid expansion into a full scale production.
The audience clapped and cheered with delight as the cast filled the stage to take a well deserved final bow.
In addition, to delighting the crowd with their performance, the cast and crew put on a surprise question and answer session during intermission. Filled with jokes and fun, this was something the audience seemed to really enjoy. They learned that in addition to taking on multiple roles, much of the cast also took on double duty as crew. For instance, Taylor Thibert is the oldest cast member, 23, and was doubling as the make up artist during the show. The Q & A also brought out the comedians in the group. When Tanner Duquette joked that he was the only funny one there, young Adony corrected him saying he was funny too. Adony proceeded to entertain the crowd with a silly knock knock joke.
During the Q & A, Teagan Smallhorn shared that their next production, which she is directing, will be Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, in May. Auditions take place on Jan. 22 & 23.
Shana Thibert, executive director of Revolution Youth Theatre, said “Teagan is a RYT original and has been with the group since it started, when she was 15 years old. Teagan has went from acting, to assistant director, to main director, and this year has been elected onto the board of directors.”
“We’ve only been around since 2015,” explained Shana. “We’re going into our 4th season, this was our 12th show already, so they kick them out pretty fast. We have auditions, but a lot of times we do take kids in the middle of a production, they just wouldn’t get a speaking part. The group is very collaborative and the kids get a say in what they do.”
Revolution Youth Theatre’s program is free to join because it’s a registered charity that relies on donations and grants. For more information including upcoming shows and auditions, please visit http://www.revolutionyouththeatre.org