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Yukon Theatre for Young People takes its show on the road to Dawson City

The theatre company is leading a free workshop for youth aged 12 to 19

They say all the world’s a stage, but that’s especially true for Dawson City this month.

From Feb. 16 to 18, Whitehorse-based Yukon Theatre for Young People (YTYP) will visit the community to run a weekend-long theatre workshop for youth between the ages of 12 and 19.

Visiting communities is something YTYP has wanted to do since its inception in 2019, said Angela Drainville, artistic director of the company. It’s through a partnership with Yukon Energy (which provided funding through its sponsorships and donations program) and the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) that it’s able to happen now, she said.

When it came to taking the show on the road, Drainville and Yukon Energy said Dawson was the obvious choice.

“Yukon Energy provides electricity service directly to Dawson City,” said Lisa Wiklund, manager of communications for Yukon Energy. “As such, we believe it’s important to support opportunities for a community that we are so closely tied to. We also believe in the Yukon Theatre for Young People’s mission of delivering theatre experiences for Yukon youth, and the life skills that come with such experiences.”

Over the years, YTYP has put on full-scale musicals, including Newsies, Les Miserables and Beauty and the Beast, as well as workshops for those who want to be on stage and those who wish to learn about lighting, audio, set design, costumes and more.

The company is run by a board of directors that includes community members, theatre professionals, health care professionals and educators. It is advised by a youth steering committee made up of youth from 14 to 18 years.

All of YTYP’s programming is free of charge for youth to participate in.

That includes this weekend’s workshop, which requires a time commitment of 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Feb. 16, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 17, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 18. The weekend ends with a performance, put on by participants, at 4 p.m. in the KIAC ballroom (Dënäkär Zho).

Chloé Selarque, KIAC staff, told the News the partnership helps fulfill KIAC’s mandate of cultivating creativity through film, music, visual, literary and performing arts.

“Working with YTYP offered a (rare) opportunity for Yukon youth to engage in theatre. We hope to provide access to this art form through our partnership and support of YTYP,” Selarque said in an email. “Our mission is to increase the quality of life of Yukoners through the creation, presentation, and celebration of art. We believe arts and culture creates strong, empowered communities.”

Drainville said she’s watched theatre do exactly that for a number of youth. She said theatre is a “magical” experience.

“I’m a huge believer in the transformative power of theatre and what it can do in the lives of young people,” she said.

Two of those young people will be leading the workshop in Dawson.

Luca Squires will serve as choreographer, while Gabriel Hopkins is director and musical director.

Hopkins told the News he’s been with YTYP from the beginning.

“You tend to be there from the start when your mom’s the director,” he said over the phone on Feb. 13. “I was voluntold … but I’ve always loved theatre in all its forms. I’ve been acting since I was baby Jesus in the nativity scene back in Ontario.”

Moving here, he said he immediately got involved with theatre at The Heart of Riverdale, completed all four years of the Music Arts and Drama program at Wood Street School, performed with YTYP until he aged out, and then started his own theatre company, Be More Chill, in December of 2023 (“I didn’t want to have to ask permission from other people anymore to do the shows I wanted to do,” he said).

He said he’s led workshops in Whitehorse, but this will be the first one in Dawson.

Hopkins said the format for the weekend will depend on the number of youth who register (they can do this by emailing, but they can expect to go over elements of training, as well as various improv games and theatre warm-up exercises to help them get comfortable.

He said the end-of-weekend performance will likely be a variety show style evening, so he encourages youth to come to the workshop with some ideas in mind as far as what they want to learn.

He said he loves seeing participants come in, not knowing if they can sing a certain show tune, and helping them turn it into not just a rendition of the song but a full-fledged performance.

“I think the strongest thing we bring is just the permission for others to be able to try,” he said. “You have the permission to make the piece you’re dreaming of right now … don’t worry. We’ll get you there.

“Theatre, in general, is a very welcoming environment. It’s home to myself and many others, and I’ll be there extending that home to anybody who wants to come and be a part of it.”

Conact Amy Kenny at