by Allison Mollenkamp
10. You can hear some new songs…
What’s so great about a revue is the ability to pull songs you love, even if you can’t do the whole show. The actors at YAAL do some lovely newer Broadway hits from Waitress, Mean Girls, and Carrie, and it’s fun to see these young performers tackling material that hasn’t made it to other Lincoln stages yet.
9. …and some old favorites.
The revue also includes a few songs that you’ll recognize, like “One Day More” and “What is This Feeling,” from Les Misérables and Wicked respectively. Have we heard these songs before? Yes. But they still feel fresh because this is the first time for these performers. That’s part of the magic of youth theatre: watching young people discover things for the first time.
8. You’ll be surprised.
These are quite young performers. They are still coming into their voices, but even as teenagers, there are some big voices in this cast. They take on songs written for people ten or twenty or sometimes thirty years older than them, and they fill the notes with a power that feels unexpected from middle and high school students.
7. It’s a sneak peak of shows to come.
Ever wonder what community (or even professional) theatre may look like in twenty years? The stars are right here, singing their hearts out and dancing with their friends.
6. We need these kids.
Whether they keep performing or not, on this stage we see the young creatives who will do so much for our communities. It’s worthwhile to support that creativity and joy in making art, because those things will fuel these young performers through whatever they may face in the coming years. Art kept so many of us going, and whether we knew them or not, there were people out there cheering us on. Now it’s our turn.
5. The costumes are beautiful.
A lot of revues and showcases opt for a uniform of some kind, usually all black, or for Sunday best. I do not begrudge them the ease of staying in one costume, focusing on the music and the dancing. However, it is impressive just how many costume changes this revue fits in. Every number has its own colorful outfits, and it helps to bring the show to life.
4. It’s a lot of fun.
We need not worry whether there will be a happy ending here. We need not worry about slow patches in the second act. This show keeps moving, and each number is as delightful as the last. The one or two scenes among the songs are fun and lighthearted.
3. We are are reassured that community theatre is supposed to be for fun.
In the midst of tech week for a big show, it can start to feel as if everything is riding on opening night. A minor mistake can feel like the end of the world. However, watching these kids, we are reminded the real stakes of any community show: these kids are here because they enjoy it. What few small mishaps there were in the show were handled with grace and a wide grin. Perhaps we adults can bring that easygoing attitude to our own work a little too.
2. Watching the audience is fun too.
I didn’t know anyone in this show. In this respect, it seemed I was unusual. The audience was filled with excited parents and siblings and other relatives. Their joy when the kid they’re there for had their big moment was palpable. Even without knowing kids or parents, it was nice to see love expressed as long applause and multiple cameras held up for a song.
1. It feels like home.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in shows like this. The rehearsal cubes are white instead of black, the leggings are a little longer, and the set is splatter painted instead of solid, but this is the sort of place where lots of us got our start. Maybe it was a high school instead of a strip mall, maybe a church basement or a summer camp. But there’s something comforting about going back to basics. “What is This Feeling,” for me, will always be two girls named Emily in a middle school auditorium in upstate New York. At YAAL it’s two new girls, but the spirit is the same: a joy for performing. It makes me want to pull out black pants and a black T-shirt and sing to a piece of copy paper on the back wall that reads “Look at me.” Maybe some of you will feel the same way.
If you go: The Teen Broadway Revue is being performed at YAAL at 1233 Libra Drive in Lincoln on Saturday, May 26 at 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
Allison Mollenkamp is a reporter and producer for NET News. You may have seen her onstage at the Lincoln Community Playhouse or the STAGE Theater in Hickman. After a lifetime of moving around, she’s happy to find a home in the Lincoln theatre community. You can follow her on twitter @alliemollenkamp.
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