Calvin Lyte set to take lead in Tada! production


Riverdale resident Calvin Lyte, 18, will play the lead role in an original musical premiering April 20 at Tada! Youth Theater.

The musical is an original production called Common Ground that follows the lives of various teenage immigrants as they learn to live in America.

Lyte says he’s starred in productions most of his life, beginning as early as elementary school. He referred to it as a build-up starting with dance programs and then harnessing his voice. All his previous work has evolved Lyte into the performer he is today, he said, and he embraces the challenge of his first lead role.

Though he lives in Riverdale, Lyte is a senior at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, a public high school for which prospective students must audition to attend.

As Lyte preps to take the stage, he is also prepping for high school graduation. But his intended path looks a little different from most.

Lyte said he wants to take a gap year before attending college. He wants to work on his vocal training and audition for everything he can find, hopefully building up his resume before he decides to pursue higher education.

He also has tentative plans to visit South Africa to perform volunteer work.

Lyte said he feels pressure to bring his character, Abdoulaye Diamonde, to life, but he’s also really excited about the opportunity and what it means for him. Playing the lead in an original production also means he gets to make Diamonde, a South African native who moves to New York City with dreams of playing professional soccer, his own.

“It’s something that I kind of get to put my hands on and really dig into,” Lyte said.

As for nerves about being on stage, Lyte said his castmates are a big help to him. He said being able to joke with them and just be around them helps ground him.

Lyte said all of his other pent-up energy is channeled into his performance, which he said helps both his nerves and overall stage presence.

Lyte has been working with Tada! Youth Theater for the last five years. Prior to starring in Common Ground, he completed a workshop focused on two-act musicals.

Common Ground is the first two-act musical that Tada! has premiered and has been in the works since 2018. Writer Lisa Diana Shapiro, who had just finished working at another theater with a group of teenage immigrants and was inspired to tell a similar story, brought the show to the theater.

Tada!’s associate director of resident youth ensemble, Ashley Knowles, spoke highly of Lyte.

“As we were bringing (Common Ground) to the stage, we recognized he’d previously participated in a two-act workshop and he really connected with the character,” Knowles said. “We’re excited to have him back to play this role.”

The musical opens on April 20 and runs through May 11, with shows Thursday through Sunday.

Tickets start at $35.65 and can be purchased online at

Calvin Lyte Common Ground musical Tada! Youth Theater Teenage immigrant Riverdale resident Original production LaGuardia High School Lead role Musical theater New York City