Rhode Island Youth Theatre (RIYT), formerly known as Fantasy Works, Inc., will celebrate 25 years of inspiring Rhode Island’s youth through the arts. The company will be “honoring the past, celebrating the present and securing their future” with a gala this weekend in Warwick.
Founded by former schoolteacher Dr. Ann O’Grady in 1987, RIYT is celebrating a quarter century of arts education this summer season. Earlier in the summer, the company staged a production of “Peter Pan” at URI, which featured Flying by Foy, the Las Vegas company that “flew” Cathy Rigby during her run as “the boy that never grew up” on Broadway. Next they’ll produce “The Wizard of OZ” at Rhode Island College.
Alumni of the group have gone on to work on Broadway shows like the revivals of “West Side Story” and “Hair,” on cruise ships, in regional theaters and in film and television. One alumnus, Amy Hillner, made an appearance on this year’s TONY Awards, starring as Tracy Turnblad in a featured segment of “Hairspray.” Some current performers have graced the stages of local venues like Trinity Repertory Company and Theatre By The Sea.
Today, hundreds of child performers from across Rhode Island and New England participate in RIYT’s programs, which range from playwriting classes to full musicals performed with live orchestras. Teens also have the opportunity to get backstage experience in direction, choreography, lighting and scenic design, costume construction and more.
To celebrate their 25th Anniversary, RIYT will hold a gala at “Splash,” located in Jordan’s Furniture in the Warwick Mall. The event will take place on Sunday from 6:30 to 10 p.m. and will feature pasta stations, a sundae bar and performances by current and alumni performers. Raffle prizes include Alex and Ani Jewelry, event tickets, baskets and more. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. The night will culminate with the state-of-the-art water and laser light show, “Splash.” Admission is $25 for adults, $15 for students. Tickets are available now at www.RIYT.org. Proceeds will benefit arts programming for the current and upcoming season of RIYT.