Written by Devon Lavinia Yates
I have to admit, when I was asked to be a part of Candide…I didn’t know much about it other than the song “Glitter and Be Gay” which I would be lucky enough to be singing. After further research and a full listen to the cast recording, I immediately fell in love.
This show is special to me for so many reasons. Not only is it an incredible piece of comedic theatre, based off a brilliant novella by none other than Voltaire, but this will be the first time I’ve performed a show in Erie, PA since I was 18 years old where I played Maria in West Side Story at the Erie Playhouse. Not to mention that I’m going to be starring opposite my best friend and the most talented lady I know, my mom.
I’m so lucky to have grown up in the Erie community where theatre is so appreciated and encouraged. I’m even MORE lucky to have grown up in a household where music and theatre were constantly celebrated. Cast albums were always playing through the speakers and we were always working on our next musical project. The last show my mom, Trisha, and I did was Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim where she played the Witch and I played her daughter, Rapunzel conducted by none other than our main man, my dad, Bruce Yates. Fast forward 15 years later, where we will be standing together once again where we both belong, on the stage.
I’ve spent the years since then going to school for Music Theatre, moving to NYC, working crazy hours and attending endless auditions until one day I landed a gig that changed my life: cruise ships. I’ve been fortunate to travel the world performing, however this time it was someone else extremely special. That someone is actually who I’ll be starring opposite in this show! My best friend, Michael Valentine. How often do you get to get paid to travel the world and perform with your best friend?!? Not often!
Michael and I met 13 years ago doing AIDA at the Erie Playhouse. He was this new boy from Philadelphia that was coming to play Radames, so we were all very eager to meet this mystery man. I’ll never forget the day he walked in (May 2nd, 2005 — I have a journal entry from that exact day) and the rest is history. We became extremely fast friends, and considering he was “new” to Erie, I decided it was my duty to take him under my wing (whether he particularly wanted that or not!). After a few shows together, life took us in different directions for a while, but then we came back together and moved to NYC in 2010. Since then, we’ve stumbled through life together dreaming of the day we could actually do a show together again (and not just production shows like on the cruise ships). Well, thanks to the Erie Playhouse, The Warner Theatre and the Erie Philharmonic - that time has finally come! Our dreams are coming true!
I can’t wait to be back on my old stomping grounds with so many of my dear, old friends to bring this art to life! I can truly say, that everything is for the best in THIS best of all possible worlds.