Youth Arts Savannah Stories: Music, Storytelling and Performing Arts

Youth Arts Savannah Stories: Music, Storytelling and Performing Arts

Friday, March 25th, 2016

5:00 pm | $10/$5 children

Savannah Stories is the culmination of the week long Youth Performing Arts intensive.  Savannah Stories is a new musical with book, lyrics and music by Hudson Valley music luminary Debbie Lan and featuring a performance by Carol Caru Thompson, a Shekere master, percussionist and story teller.

Based on a selection of African Folktales, the story is set in the Savannah grasslands of Northern South Africa.

The story centers around Bushfowl, who tragically loses her eggs and nest in an accident and so cannot sing her daily Waking Song which calls to Sun to bring on the new day. Touched by her predicament, her animal friends set out to decide how to help Bushfowl and bring back Sun.

Opening the evening’s performance is special guest artist, Carol Caru Thompson, a shekere master. The shekere is a West African instrument consisting of a dried gourd covered with beads woven into a net. “Caru” is a beloved percussionist and storyteller who will be sharing songs and stories from Africa.

This premier of Savannah Stories is a production of Youth Arts @ The Rosendale Theatre, a new committee whose mission is to “Educate, Celebrate, and Collaborate!” The performers are local, youth participants in the week-long performing arts intensive facilitated by Carrie Wykoff, Debbie Lan and Carol Caru Thompson.

The live performance of Savannah Stories will take place on Friday, March 25th at 5:00 PM at the Rosendale Theatre. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.


Debbie Lan is a composer, lyricist, arranger, performer and teaching artist with two award winning CDs of original music for kids and their families with her band, Grenadilla.

Originally from Cape Town South Africa, Debbie was Musical Director and composer-in-residence for CAPAB, the state run theater, writing and arranging songs for original shows. She also released two solo CDs in South Africa (Mountain Records) and Japan (Pioneer LDC).

She has performed and recorded with Robbie Dupree, Artie Traum and John Hall amongst others and with a local popular Family music band, Dog on Fleas before founding and fronting Grenadilla, playing original songs for kids and their families based on the rhythmic and sweetly tuneful street music of her native Cape Town.

Debbie became a teaching artist in 2002 working with kids in the nursery through 4th grade. Since 2007 Debbie has directed and arranged for Bloom, a women’s voice ensemble which she founded.

Carole Caru Thompson is a shekere master and percussionist, and a counselor, educator and group facilitator in the areas of Vocational Counseling, Youth Leadership and Addiction Rehabilitation.

For 30 years she has developed curriculum and utilized skills to teach, support, empower and build community among children and adults.

As a percussionist/singer she is a principle member of ASE, Women of the World, Alakande, and has taught and directed the Shekerettes (a group of performing elder’s 65 – 89 yrs. old) for 5 years.

Ms. Thompson brings to the table ways to empower, inspire, communicate and reach goals.


Carrie Wykoff is the Director of Youth Arts @ The Rosendale Theatre. She grew up performing extensively and worked as a professional musical theater performer, stage manager and dance captain as a youth and a teen.

She graduated Emerson College with a BFA in Musical Theatre and a minor in Theater Management. She is the recipient of the prestigious Carol Burnett Award.

Right out of college, she helped to co-found a special events planning company and continued to perform at regional theaters and summer stock. She was on the road with the European cast of Hair for two years.

Carrie also performs with rock, funk and jazz bands. Here in the Hudson Valley, she is the lead singer for the Street Fest All Stars and is a guest vocalist with Soul Purpose. Additionally, she is the founder of the ritual performance group, Circle of Soul, a collective who come together in song, movement and creativity to honor the earth.

Carrie has been seen onstage at The Rosendale Theatre in numerous shows including appearances in The Exonerated, Rocky Horror, Talking With, The Shakespeare Slam and many of the Radio Plays.

Off stage in Rosendale, she has directed and produced Schoolhouse Rock, Outbounders and Dreamers and Free to Be You and Me.

Her event planning company Events That Matter can be seen behind many of the local fundraising events in the Hudson Valley.