The Christian Youth Theater (CYT) East County production of “The Legend of Pocahontas” completed its first weekend at Lewis Middle School on Sunday, March 6. The show, which features several talented Santee youth as well as other local residents, tells the familiar story of the young Algonquian woman who helped bring two cultures together. Although the full truth of her life may never be known, this version, written specifically for CYT by Robb Beus and Jon Lorenz, attempts to bridge the gap between fact and legend.
When most people today think of a musical of Pocahontas, the first thing that comes to mind is the Disney version. Well, this is not your “Colors of the Wind” musical – no talking tree, no goofy animals, just a great story, fantastic songs, and amazingly strong acting. Katee Drysdale, in her first lead role, shines in the role of Pocahontas. This high-school freshman brings an incredibly strong voice and wonderful emotion to this challenging part. Dallas Perry, another freshman, show off his acting chops as John Smith, the English adventurer rescued by Pocahontas. High-school senior Sean Cabuchola plays John Rolfe, the man who eventually married Pocahontas, but who has been mostly relegated to “who’s that?” status in history.
The production weaves the story of Pocahontas and her people into a framework of an Indian-themed summer camp, bringing in over a dozen young children as the campers and four talented young ladies as the counselors. The four, Kiania Nelson, Amber Welch, Kristen Sabesky, and Danica Waitley, act as narrators for the action of the story and are featured in several important songs. Other notable performances are turned in by Jonathan Wilson as Powhatan and Brandon Lisama as Keokum.
The music is what truly makes this show memorable, with songs ranging from the haunting and melancholy “My Love Has Departed” to the powerful “Making of a Legend.” The cast easily handles the complicated harmonies and nuances under the direction of Musical Director Janie D’Avignon. Choreographer KC Grulli-Miller developed not only several wonderful dance sequences, but two action-packed battle sequences, with the aid of interns Mollie Esau and Lonnie Ramirez. The show is under the overall guidance of Director Kim Messina.
“The Legend of Pocahontas” continues its second and final weekend of performances on March 11-13, with shows at 7:00 pm Friday and Saturday, 2:00 pm Saturday, and 3:00 pm Sunday. The show plays at Lewis Middle School at 5170 Greenbriar Ave., in San Diego. For ticket information visit Christian Youth Theater – San Diego.