Youth theatre brightens the gloom with amazing technicolour

CROYDON COMMENTARY: There are ways, safely, to break out of lockdown, as KIRSTIE SMITH, pictured right with her sons, discovered when they visited a local kids’ theatre

One of the (many) things I’ve missed over these strange times is the lack of theatre.

I’m an avid theatre-goer and like to have a show or two to look forward to. It’s been strange times with shows cancelled and re-arranged. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it until my son came home from a theatre holiday club and we watched a trailer together for a West End show he’d been learning.

I found myself quite emotional watching it – which seems utterly ridiculous and took me by surprise.

Inside Croydon had advertised a performance of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat by CYTO, the Croydon Youth Theatre Organisation, and so, feeling all nostalgic about theatre I decided to book tickets for the family. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but knew it would be performed by children and that I should take my own chair.

It was all very safe. Tickets were digital, the programme landed in my inbox earlier in the day and the organisation had sent some requests via email – would we please wear masks if we could and use hand sanitiser on entry.

Croydon Youth Theatre Organisation found a way for the show to go on

The performance took place in a school car park, outside CYTO’s Shoestring Theatre, with chairs placed around the edge of the “stage” which had been marked on the ground with chalk. The audience was socially distanced, in their own groups. A piano sat at an angle to the side of the stage. There was no lighting, no microphones, no curtains to pull back (see what I did there?), and my son asked where the performers’ costumes were.

There was, of course, an amazing technicolour dreamcoat, but other than that just the odd hat as costume and no props.

The show lasted about an hour. In that time the youths sang, danced and put on a great performance. They were accompanied by a pianist who also sang and for some scenes, there was music through a speaker.

The performers told the story well, there was some graceful dancing, superb acting and singing and it was evident that the kids put their all into it, we could feel their energy. This was raw theatre at its finest. They didn’t need the bells and whistles, the technology, the costumes or the magic of scenery: the audience’s full attention was on the performers.

CYTO said this was their first performance since starting back after the country went a bit haywire, and boy did they pull it off. Amazingly, the youths performing learnt their parts in two weeks. Two weeks to put on a show – quite an achievement.

In times of doom and gloom and lots of negativity in the news, this was a very welcome treat.

It was our first visit to a CYTO performance and my children’s review was that it was “stunning” and that they “loved it”. Well done and congratulations CYTO – a huge pat on the back to all involved. We hope to be back to another show and have donated to your Golden Giving page.

Thanks for reminding us why theatre is so wonderful and how much talent is in the local community.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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