Musical Mystery Tour: Ensemble Theater for Kids

The emphasis is on choosing material that suits each child

By Alison Rooney

Depot Theatre Youth Coordinator Lisa Sabin has been honing a very specific type of collaborative musical theater experience for Philipstown’s kids. No cutthroat competition is allowed; divas (in terms of temperament) are not welcome. Instead, Sabin, who writes and directs, and Christine Brooks Bokhour, who choreographs, collaborate with the kids, tailoring songs and other skills into a loosely themed romp showcasing everyone’s talents and personalities.

Philipstown Recreation Center described this spring’s edition of the Musical Mystery Tour (MMT) reads as “an ensemble show, where every effort will be put into making each child comfortable and feeling successful, while being challenged along the way.”

Some of the younger group checking things out at rehearsal
Some of the younger group checking things out at rehearsal

Sabin is excited about this production. “What’s cool (and challenging) about these types of shows I do is that I write the show for the particular kids that are in it. This means that I see who signs up and then start compiling songs that I know they will sound great in. I also write the script with their particular personalities in mind. I want each child to feel confident, so I choose material that suits him or her and that they will shine in. I also ask the kids what their favorite songs and artists are, and also about their dreams and wishes. I put as many of their ideas as I can into the shows. I find that if kids are doing something that has come from them and inspires them, they express themselves in wonderfully joyous ways. Wait until you see these performances! I’m so proud.”

From the looks of a recent rehearsal, the kids were having a great time. Philipstown.info asked the kids how they felt about their show:

“My name is Kieran Warger and I am 8 years old. I love being a part of the MMT! I am the ONLY boy in the ‘little kids’ group. That’s actually a lot of fun! This is my second show with the Philipstown Theater and Lisa is the BEST! She makes us all great! The MMT will take you to places you never dreamed of. You’ll have as much fun as us trying to get home again. Can’t wait to see you on the Tour! It’s less than 525,600 minutes away!”

From Ruby Poses, a first grader: “I love that we get to sing songs and we get to act. Everybody in the show is super fun and we have a great time! You’ll have a great time too when you see us perform. I hope you’ll come!”

Sofia Wallis, 7: “The MMT is a tour that will blow your minds! I like that you can make up your own moves and make new friends.”

Six-year-old Elaine Llewellyn's contribution to this story (Image courtesy of Carolyn Llewellyn)
Six-year-old Elaine Llewellyn’s contribution to this story (Image courtesy of Carolyn Llewellyn)

Elaine Llewellyn, first grader, 6: “This is my first time being in a play. I have learned a lot. One of my lines is ‘That was awesome!’ Another is ‘Whoa!’ My favorite song is ‘Revolting Children.’ Another is ‘When I Grow Up.’ The play is called MMT! At the Depot Theatre in April 2013.”

Julie Geller, fifth grade: “This has been a great experience for me. I love acting in the MMT. I love meeting new friends and the cast is so talented. Every single person in the show puts 110 percent effort into making the show possible, especially Lisa and Christine. They are all such great directors and I hope to work with them again in another show. The songs that Lisa picked out are fantastic and fit everyone’s personality. The script was made by Lisa and it is amazing. Christine has choreographed amazing things and is great at her job!!”

Anna Rowe, 10: “This show is about a group of kids getting lured into this magical world and their travels to try to get home! There is some trouble going on through the journey, though, and we have to try to strengthen each other to help each other out. I love all the cast members because they are basically like family to everyone in the play, because they always are helping each other out, working and goofing off. In the play I am myself, singing a lot of songs and having some goofy lines! Then again, the whole play is funny. I can’t say anything else, because I would give the play away! And that is what the Depot Theatre does for you! See the play, and you’ll see the magic of us!”

Chloe Rowe, 8: “This show is about how you can see that kids can also do a lot more than you think! I think this play is about going to different places and singing different songs. I like that it’s really fun, funny and adventurous! It’s, well, fun to move in all sorts of interesting ways! I like that the cast members are really fun to hang out with and really good with their parts, and it would be quiet without their company! I also like that the teachers, Lisa and Christine, come up with funny and good ideas! They do good warm-up games! I can only say TO GET TICKETS! See the play, and you’ll see the mysterious ways of the MMT!”

From May Columb: “The show is about kids traveling to different places using a scroll that they got from a treasure chest. I really like being in the MMT because it is singing and acting and I really love to sing and act. I sing the first solo piece in ‘When I Grow Up’ and I have a few lines, too! My name is May and I am 7 years old and I approve this message.”

Choreographer Christine Brooks Bokhour working with the Musical Mystery Tour kids
Choreographer Christine Brooks Bokhour working with the Musical Mystery Tour kids

Hannah Benson, 8: “The MMT is about a bunch of kids, including me, who get stuck in a music world and can’t stop dancing and singing. It is really fun because we get to sing and act. The acting is really fun. I sing and dance and do a lot of slow motion dancing. I have some lines that I really like.”

Fallon Barry: “The MMT is going to be a GREAT SHOW! It has a great mix of past and current pop tunes — people will love the show! I am so excited to sing the intro to a few of the songs!”

“Yo. This is Julian Van Dommele. I’m 13 years old, and I live in Cold Spring. My favorite food is pepperoni pizza. My best hobbies are school, math, art, architecture, logos, graphic design, viral videos, and my favorite of all time: movies. So far, I’ve starred in two plays (Willy Wonka and Oliver) and this is my third. I loved starring in the play in the past two months. I loved how Mrs. Sabin directed the play, how Mrs. Bokhour choreographed the dance moves, and how Mrs. Sabin’s daughter, Sophie, watched and starred in the play, too. The play I’m starring in is gonna be Awesome! With a Capital ‘A.’”

Sophie: “This show is awesome! My friends and I have so much fun! We keep practicing but that’s okay. Can you believe that my mom is the director? Well she is. And she is awesome!”

Liv Villella, 7: “This has been a wonderful experience for me because it’s my first performance. It was so fun learning the awesome dance moves. I want to thank Lisa and Christine for being such fantastic teachers.”

Roisin Daly, 12: “The MMT is waiting to take you away to see this show. While it is more suited for a younger audience, it holds powerful life lessons about friendship, bullying, and most importantly, having fun, all with a twist of humor added to the mix. If your iPod breaks and you happen to like all kinds of music, this is the show for you. Everyone in the cast is acting like themselves for the most part. Some characters have more of a certain personality in the show, which leads to the understanding of an important lesson. For everyone who plans to see this show, enjoy our little production of MMT. We can’t wait to take you away.”

Max Mormar, seventh grade: “This is my second play with Lisa and The Depot Theater and I’ve had a blast! I want to say thanks to my parents and Lisa for the support. Enjoy the show!”

Giving their all to rehearsal of one of the musical numbers
Giving their all to rehearsal of one of the musical numbers

Dalia Kropf, 11: “I am so happy to be participating in Lisa Sabin’s MMT. I love getting to see my friends from past performances and meeting new friends. We have such a great time working with each other and it’s so fun to work with kids that are about my age. We laugh a lot and have so many great times together. It’s always a pleasure to be in Lisa’s shows.”

Choreographer Bokhour said: “Lisa has gathered all of these great songs with the kids’ help, some I hadn’t heard before. Lisa and I both have a tendency to dream huge and then scale it to however much rehearsal time we can grab. These kids really jump in with their hearts and souls. They are so enthusiastic and have so many wonderful ideas and interjections. They put their hearts in their hands and hold them out to you with such amazing honesty. Singing and dancing can do that to you. I’m blown away by it.”

MMT will be performed at the Depot Theatre on Friday, April 5, at 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by phoning the Depot Theatre at 845-424-3900.

Photos by A. Rooney