Auditions will be held in Evanston early next month for the final production of Brillianteen, the McGaw YMCA’s student-produced musical revue.

After 65 years, the Y is bringing the curtain down for the final time. Auditions are Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 and 6. The final show will be performed March 4-6.

In a news release, McGaw officials described Brillianteen as a treasured tradition that’s given hundreds of high school juniors and seniors the experience of live theatre. Youth showboard volunteers lead the complete production of the show, from rehearsals to design and performance. In the YMCA’s spirit of inclusion, every student who auditions is invited to participate.


But, the release says, five years ago the organization reviewed all of its programs to ensure that resources were devoted to the YMCA mission — supporting youth development, healthy living and social responsibility — especially for underserved populations.

The group conducted surveys and focus groups in an attempt to re-design Brillianteen to better meet its mission, but says that despite five years of work, efforts to diversify Brillianteen and align it more closely with the Y’s mission have not been sufficiently effective.

The Y plans to honor the program’s legacy by establishing an annual scholarship to be awarded to two Evanston Township High School seniors interested in the arts. Those who wish to donate to the scholarship fund will have an opportunity during the Brillianteen production.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. What’s the real reason to end Brillianteen?

    Brillianteen is an Evanston tradition. It has provided hundreds and hundreds of youth the opportunity to experience and perform in live theater.

    Doesn't Brillianteen support youth development?

    Isn't youth development the mission of the YMCA? Sounds like there's a bigger story that isn't being told.

    I thought the arts are a core value of the Evanston community?

    1. Perhaps it was not diverse

      Perhaps it was not diverse enough and they were unable to acquire rights to an LGBTQ production. Also, auditorium too small to create a "safe zone" for anyone that might feel threatened or uncomfortable during performance.

      1. Is this a serious comment?

        Is this a serious comment? Because it seems like it isn't coming from a Safe Zone.

    2. The play had become an
      The play had become an opportunity for teens to get drunk and throw parties, and occasionally practice theater which isn’t really what the Y is wanting to be known for.

  2. Some parents threatened to

    Some parents threatened to sue several years back because their children couldn't handle themselves appropriately and got very drunk before an after party. The Y panicked and they never accepted the show after that. They have been looking to shut it down for 5 years. They did nothing to support it or get involved and transform it. They never came to rehearsals, never met the kids, never tried. They gave them 5 years. Ignored it for 5 years and now that the time frame is up they are dumping it. It's a terrible display of (non)leadership. Disappointing to me as a former cast member, adult Showboard member, parent of a participant/leader and former YMCA staff member. 

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