Kelly Crosthwaite

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When I first immigrated from California to Toronto, I volunteered as an usher at what was then, the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. The groundbreaking premiere of Hana’s Suitcase was on the Mainstage and this was my introduction to YPT: An incredible and moving story about a young girl murdered in the Holocaust and the amazing global connections created by students in Japan who insisted on answering the question, “Who was Hana Brady?” The quality of the production was top notch. I was moved to tears each time I saw it week after week while fulfilling my ushering duties. YPT hosted a viewing of the play with George Brady, Hana’s surviving brother who had settled in Toronto as an adult. I was honoured to meet him and hear his personal account of his role in bringing Hana’s story to the people of Toronto through children’s theatre.
Once I was teaching, I was able to bring classes to YPT to see such plays as The Princess and the Handmaiden, A Year with Frog and Toad, (one of the best productions for children I have ever seen) Baobab, and Seussical. During the 2013-14 school year my grade one students were fortunate to visit YPT an unlikely three times. We attended A Story Before Time in the fall, allowing the students to view a legend told through dance. As winter came upon us, YPT put out a last minute offer to see the musical Annie at the extraordinary price of $5.00. We managed to put the trip together in a few short days with the help of parents who understand the many benefits children reap by attending live theatre. We wrapped up the year with a spring viewing of Paper Song in the studio. Getting to go to the theatre three times in one school year was astounding and I witnessed such positive growth in my students from doing so. Our theatre trips truly helped shape the students’ learning for the year and inspired the storytellers within each of them.
My current class – with nine parents in tow – just viewed Snow Angel, but YPT has been more than a dependable quality theatre experience for my young primary students; it has also been a place which has provided personal connections to the community for myself. I have taken a voice workshop for teachers in the studio, attended teacher preview nights, special events, and introductions for Prologue to the Performing Arts all at YPT. Young Peoples Theatre has truly been a valued and meaningful place for me during the decade I have been in Toronto.
Congratulations YPT for Fifty Years of bringing theatre magic to children and young people. I thank you for being a vital hub in the community and an integral part of my personal experience of living in Toronto.
~ Kelly Crosthwaite