The original youth Sci-Fi adventure “Somewhere Beyond the Sky” to be performed at Newhall’s Canyon Theatre Guild on May 6, 2017 for one night only.
Santa Clarita’s Canyon Theatre Guild, located in Old Town Newhall, has been entertaining and edifying audiences since 1970.
A vigorous fundraising program for youth theatre has long been a key element of its mission, and that outreach has been expanded recently, with the addition of two all-original shows written specifically for youthful performers. What makes these shows particularly special is that they are being produced and directed by a pair of young writers barely out of high school.
John Lucewich, originally from Pine Mountain Club, turned 23 years old in January. His partner, Maia Lynne, of Los Angeles, is just 20. Their first original production was a holiday special, performed in December 2016, called “December’s Last Wish”. The show was written specifically for a cast with ages ranging from 5 to 18 years, with a total cast of about 45 young people. A heartwarming story of love, adventure, and redemption, it combined traditional holiday songs with several all-original numbers.
“The success of that first original show was pretty unexpected,” said Lucewich. “We got the green light based on our 2015 holiday show, which really wasn’t original except in a few areas. But the board gave us a shot at doing a completely original show, and we took it. The results were pretty shocking. The theater was completely sold out. It was standing room only. We had to pull out every folding chair we had, and there were still quite a few spectators who had to view the show from the lobby, watching the television monitor.”
Lucewich, who has been with the theatre for several years, said that to his knowledge it was one of the only sold-out performances in the Canyon Theatre Guild’s history.
“It may not be the only sold-out show, but they are rare. We’re pretty good about getting the seats filled, but there are usually a few left. This time, there were none. It was a packed house.”
That success led to the Canyon Theatre Guild’s Board of Directors, headed by Doug Holiday and guided by Executive and Artistic Director TimBen Boydston, to propose that Lucewich and his co-writer, Maia Lynne, have complete control of a youth show to be performed in May 2017. They jumped at the chance to create an entirely original musical.
“We didn’t have anything ready,” says Lynne, whose primary role is to arrange, orchestrate and score the production, along with acting as vocal director. “The whole thing had to be written from the ground up, every note. John and I are huge fans of science fiction, so we had some ideas for the story, but it was far from being complete.”
“We finished the script in two months and had all the music written by the first week of April,” Lucewich added. “Then we really had to start working hard with the cast to get the performances up to speed. Some of the actors had never been in a production before, and some had a couple of shows behind them. So we had our work cut out for us, but fortunately, we had a great bunch of young people who were really excited about the story and the songs. So it’s working out. The enthusiasm is huge, the parents are behind us 100 percent, and the morale is very good.”
Starting off with a truly diverse cast – which includes 34 children from the ages of 5 to 16 of all backgrounds – the show takes place in the year 2518, when a young aspiring space explorer, Mira, and her trusty android, Christopher, embark on a quest to find Mira’s mother, Grace, who vanished years before. Along the way, they discover unexplored worlds, heroes of yesteryear and a threat big enough to destroy the entire universe.
“We wrote in a lot of opportunities for actors of all ages to shine,” John said. “We portray Mira at ages six, twelve, and seventeen, telling the story of her mother’s mysterious disappearance in a sequence of flashbacks. Christopher, the android who raised Mira, is the constant in the story. We have villains, heroes, black holes, and lots of action, dancing, and singing to help tell the whole tale. But you’ll have to be there to find out how it ends.”
Somewhere Beyond the Sky will be performed for one night only on May 6, 2017. It is a special fund-raising event which helps raise money for the youth workshops that run throughout the year at the Canyon Theatre Guild, a 501(c)3 non-profit arts organization.