CYT Santa Cruz to pay tribute to Stephen Sondheim in fundraiser live performance

SANTA CRUZ — This Saturday, a live performance from Christian Youth Theater Santa Cruz on the Rio Theatre could have all of it: one thing acquainted, one thing peculiar, one thing for everybody.

In different phrases, it’s a full-on tribute to the late legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim, one which will even double as a fundraiser for the youth theater group and permit it to proceed to supply younger performers a venue to get onto the stage and hone their craft.

Based in San Diego in 1980 and dropped at Santa Cruz in 2010, Christian Youth Theater is an afterschool program geared toward offering college students ages 4 to 18 with the talents to have the ability to carry out. Every year, the group affords lessons and as much as three or 4 seasonal productions, usually variations of well-known Broadway performs and animated motion pictures with a lot youthful casts. Previous productions have included “Newsies,” “Seussical,” “The Lion King Jr.” and “Bye Bye Birdie.”

Creative Director Brooke Novak mentioned Christian Youth Theater is not only about performing however constructing character and likewise permitting households to contribute to the productions.

“The youngsters, households, buddies all come collectively to create that present,” she mentioned. “Every part that you simply see throughout a present at CYT has been constructed and created by households and fogeys. Costumes, props, units, hair, make-up, all of that’s the households coming collectively.”

Like most issues, most of Christian Youth Theater’s productions in 2020 and 2021 had been canceled as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, however following elevated vaccinations and reducing instances, productions resumed within the fall of 2021 with “A Christmas Story: The Musical.” Novak, who helmed final winter’s manufacturing of “The Wizard of Oz,” mentioned employees had been just lately considering of a solution to convey individuals collectively within the post-public well being emergency period.

“(We had been) excited about what has music that actually is gonna assist individuals course of this complete loopy journey we now have been by, and Sondheim, I imply clearly is simply beautiful standalone, however the way it touches upon the human expertise and the highs and lows of the human expertise simply looks as if an ideal place for us to return collectively,” she mentioned.

One of the prolific composers within the historical past of musical theater, Sondheim started his profession by writing the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s compositions for “West Facet Story.” Starting within the ’60s, he pivoted to writing and composing the music for high-profile productions reminiscent of “A Humorous Factor Occurred on the Approach to the Discussion board,” “Follies,” “Sweeney Todd; The Demon Barber of Fleet Road,” “Into the Woods” and “Assassins.” Throughout his lifetime, he received an Oscar, eight Tonys plus a Lifetime Achievement Award, eight Grammys, a Pulitzer Prize, Kennedy Middle Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Novak loves the complexity of his music.

“Musical theater can generally be just a little one-dimensional in character improvement, otherwise you’re simply seeing one side of the character, however a lot of what Stephen Sondheim does is he’s virtually writing an inside monologue of a personality, and it’s very advanced characters with lovely flaws and passions,” she mentioned. “I feel that makes him extra comprehensible, extra relatable.”

And, in fact, Novak additionally loves the fantastic thing about Sondheim’s compositions.

“He actually in all probability is likely one of the most superb composers that we’ve ever had,” she mentioned.

A lineup of youth and grownup vocalists will carry out quite a lot of Sondheim’s songs, together with “Comedy Tonight” from “A Humorous Factor Occurred on the Approach to the Discussion board,” “Shade and Mild” from “Sunday within the Park with George,” “Ship within the Clowns” from “A Little Evening Music,” “Giants within the Sky” from “Into the Woods,” “Not a Day Goes By” from “Merrily We Roll Alongside,” “Shedding My Thoughts” from “Follies” and “Take Me to the World” from the “ABC Stage 67” episode “Night Primrose.”

All proceeds will go towards funding each side of Christian Youth Theater’s subsequent season, from rental for area to costumes to scholarships.

“Popping out of COVID, we’ve simply type of exploded so far as numbers,” mentioned Novak. “We’ve gone from having 40 children in a present to 75 children in a present, which is basically superior and tremendous cool to see how the humanities are nonetheless actually serving to children develop in confidence and knitting friendships and communities collectively, however that being mentioned, there’s a lot extra that we actually want at CYT so far as these skills to hire a lot larger theaters and areas, hiring extra individuals, particularly professionals to return in and assist assist all the exhibits and lessons.”

Novak additionally mentioned a purpose is to supply extra inexpensive theater coaching than different packages.

“It’s one thing that anyone that desires their child to expertise that, they’ll try this,” she mentioned.

Scheduled productions for subsequent season embody “Matilda: The Musical,” “Frozen Jr.” and “The Addams Household College Version.”

Novak hopes audiences will take pleasure in not solely the renditions of Sondheim’s music but in addition expertise and take away a better appreciation of the expertise that goes into making a Christian Youth Theater manufacturing.

“It offers you the vary of all these people who pour into and contribute to creating CYT occur,” she mentioned.

The live performance will start at 8 p.m. Saturday on the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave. There will even be a VIP pre-show soiree from 5:30 to 7 p.m. To buy tickets, go to