Get hyped for HYPE!!

Are you hyped for HYPE?? Lydia, our National HYPE Director, is! We had the chance to ask her a few questions, so take a look and see why she’s excited about EXPO!

What has been your favorite thing about EXPO in the past?
My favorite thing about Expo – which hasn’t changed from the first Expo I went to in 2010 – is that it feels like a giant family reunion. Every year that I go back, I get so excited to see friends from around the country that I only get to see once a year – and to make new friends that I will love seeing again next year. No matter where we live, CYT people are all the same deep down, and there’s nothing that makes me happier than when we all come together each year.

The whole group picture from last year’s Expo!

As the National HYPE Director, what is your goal for the students who attend EXPO? What can HYPE students expect at this year’s EXPO?
My goal for Expo is three-fold – 1) for HYPE students to grow in community with one another and build strong relationships that will continue throughout the year; 2) for HYPE students to share strengths and challenges from this last year and learn from one another as they collaborate for the upcoming year; and 3) to learn leadership skills in specific areas that they can take back home with them and put to use right away.

What part of EXPO are you the most excited about?
Such a difficult question! I think I’m most excited to see all these amazing student leaders face to face and have incredible conversations with them. I keep in touch with them throughout the year, but there’s nothing like seeing them in person and having those meaningful conversations.

Bonus question! You just opened your first show as director – CYT North Idaho’s Snow White and the Prince! Congratulations! Do you have a fun moment from the process you can share?
Thank you so much! The entire process has been more fun than I can even say, but one poignant moment that stuck out was when I was driving over to Coeur d’Alene after a tiring day of teaching. Even though I was exhausted from teaching, I felt so much joy and excitement at seeing my cast for rehearsal. And I realized that – while I love getting to work for CYT, Inc., from home – being involved in a show again after about 3-4 years away reminded me of why I love CYT so much. It felt like I was coming home – and that’s why we do what we do – so that we can allow other people to feel the same way about CYT. The cast and artistic team and staff have been such a joy – the whole thing has felt like a dream come true.

What I love about this picture is that the choreographer, Charlsie Johnston, and I are both CYT alumni working on our first show together. She was a CYT-North Idaho student and I was a CYT-Spokane student – and now we get to work together on this fun show! 🙂

Lydia is such a blessing to leaders and students all across the country. We are so thankful for her and for all that she does! Congratulations on your show, Lydia, and we can’t wait to see you at EXPO!

Are you registered for EXPO yet?? Get online and register today!!

EXPO 2017: Bullying Survey

EXPO 2017 is coming up soon! Each year at EXPO we meet with our Affiliates from across the nation to train our students and staff and to discuss rellevent topics. After feedback from many of you, this year we will be having a conversation with leaders and students about the topic of bullying within CYT. It’s a tough one to tackle, but not one we should shy away from either. We promise to handle this topic with care. We want to help empower students and leaders to be a part of the solution, and together, help ensure that CYT is a “no bully zone”.

In an effort to start the conversation, we have created an anonymous form (COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS) for anyone to share their insights on bullying in CYT. Again, these are meant to open the conversation, in a safe place, and hopefully shed some light on what our students are dealing with. We will only share information that is appropriate, and the form requires that the person submitting agrees to their answers being used at EXPO.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Please help us out by by filling out this form and sharing it with students and adults in CYT. Thanks everyone!

Click Here: Bullying Survey for EXPO

My CYT Story: Passing on the Legacy

Landon B. from CYT Santa Cruz very recently transitioned from the role of “student” to “alumnus”. He wrote his CYT Story and shares how, after countless prayers, Landon is given an opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to him. CYT is blessing students all across the country. It’s amazing how God works!!

To every season, there is an end.

Almost five years ago, I began my journey with Christian Youth Theater Santa Cruz. When I began, I was nervous, shy, and unsure of what I was getting into. I didn’t think I would ever like performing, and after my first class, I swore I was done. That wasn’t what God had in mind. He continued to place amazing, inspiring people in my life, and they encouraged me, mentored me, and most importantly, believed in me. I am so thankful for the wonderful role models he provided, who I have been able to do life with nearly every day for the whirlwind year that was 2016, and they continue to inspire me daily.

Last night, I aged out of CYT. For those of you who don’t know, aging out means you have turned 19 years old, and therefore are no longer able to participate as an actor. Leading up to this, as I mentioned briefly, was the whirlwind of 2016, where I had a massive theatrical experience crammed into the tiny space of 365 days (plus a few). I was blessed to participate in four productions with CYT, as well as two ballets with Agape Dance Academy. I went down to San Diego for the CYT national expo and performed with our Improv team at the beginning of summer, and came back and assistant directed a CYT summer camp at the end of summer. Throughout these experiences, I was overcome by the genuine, loving community of CYT, and it has been one of the two things that has really shaped me as a young man over the past few years, the other being my trips to Africa with Santa Cruz Bible Church.

Leading up to the moment of taking my final bow on Sunday, I thought I would be devastated emotionally, and was preparing to be unbelievably sad. I pictured myself crying uncontrollably throughout the entire performance, and thought that I would be a wreck. The fact is, that happened on Friday. I was taking part in a encouragement exercise, where you build your fellow cast mates up by speaking words of affirmation and telling them what you admire about them. I ended up paired with six people who have been some of the people who I have worked the closest with during my time with CYT. That was when I cried my tears, that was when I acknowledged my grief. When I was standing with those people, and looking at them and around the whole room at the bunches of people who I love and am inspired by, I felt the sadness of what I was moving on from.

When it came time to take my final bow, I was blessed to have one of those people standing directly next to me, and the look they gave me was one of deepest understanding, they knew what was going on for me at that moment. More tears came, and these were from the sheer weight of what was occurring in the symbolism of the final bow.

And then they stopped. For a time.

At the post-show party (strike), we celebrated the fruits of our labor, and laughed at some of the hilarious moments we had shared during the run. I watched my dear friends receive recognition for their theatrical growth, caring hearts, and Christ-like character. Then, as the end of the night drew near, I took the stage next to people that I had sat in the audience and watched, stunned by their performance, before I ever took the stage with CYT. We were presented with mason jars full of words of encouragement from our fellow cast members, to keep and cherish for life. As I left the stage, I found myself engulfed by a tidal wave of crying children. At this point, I found myself crying too, but these tears were not the tears of sadness. These were the tears of joy.

These children were telling me how much they looked up to me and the other people who were aging out, and it was in this moment that I comprehended fully something I had been thinking about since the beginning of my theater experience. It’s not about me. It’s not about the laughs I get out of the audience from stupid puns during Improv shows. It’s not about the high G I had to hit during Elf. It’s not about the stilts, the baguettes, the tights, or the middle-age makeup. It’s not about the endless hours spent onstage during Q2Q, the smoke that filled Louden Nelson, the paper snowflake chain, or the wig mic.

It’s about a legacy. The legacy that I received from my teachers, mentors, and peers, who received it from their mentors, teachers, and peers, and it is the legacy that I and my fellow age-out friends have now passed on to a new generation of young men and women. It is a legacy of love, of compassion, of dedication to the arts, and of sharing Christ’s love to the world. When I cried with those youth last night, I finally realized why God had placed me in theater.

It has been a long journey, and I am thankful to have shared it with so many amazing people. I’ve made life-long friends, and CYT has really become my second family. I am so thankful for the many, many hugs, kind words, and cards I received last night. I will treasure these memories always of the tremendous impact that CYT has had on my life.

As I take off the metaphorical hat of a student and hang it up, I am overjoyed to say that my prayers have been answered twofold. Firstly, I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in Cabrillo Stage’s professional production of the Addams Family Musical alongside several of my friends and CYT alumni, which is a bucket-list item for me. And secondly, I am delighted to announce that I will be coming alongside the wonderful Kaitlyn Atchley as the assistant director of CYT’s Spring production of Honk! Jr. This is a miraculous answer to my prayer, because what I have prayed for most in this time of transition is a way to start giving back to CYT.

Never forget, “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear”.
With love and heartfelt gratitude,
Landon Baker

EXPO 2017 Keynote Speaker!

We are so pleased to announce our Keynote Speaker for EXPO 2017: Jon Jorgenson!

As a CYT alumnus from former CYT Chicago, Jon understands our world and CYT Culture! We are so excited to have him share his passion and expertise with us.

Jon Jorgenson is an author, speaker, and spoken word poet whose YouTube videos have been viewed by more than 15 million people. Jon partners with numerous organizations including Awana International, Moody Bible Institute, the Willow Creek Association, and hundreds of other churches, colleges, and conferences all over the globe. His spoken word poetry provides a dynamic and creative experience that captures the imagination of audiences everywhere. As a former Broadway actor, Chicago native, and very lucky husband, Jon hopes to provide a fresh, unique voice to some of life’s most difficult and challenging questions.

We recently sat down with Jon for a Q&A.

Our theme verse for the conference is Hebrews 10:23-25. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” How has this verse been meaningful in your life?

Every opportunity I have ever received came at the hands of someone who was spurring me on toward the person God had created me to be. We’re often blind to the gifts, abilities, and callings that God has bestowed upon us. And even if we could see them, we’d probably be too afraid to take hold of them. My life is a recurring story of Christ like mentors throwing a microphone in my hand and saying, “Go, do someone constructive with what god has given you.” To me, this verse is about seeing the God-given beauty and potential in all people, do playing our part by drawing it out of them.

I know you are a CYT Alumni, what was your favorite CYT production and why? (Bonus if you have a photo. Double bonus if said photo is somewhat embarrassing.)

My favorite CYT production was probably Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat. I got to play a brother and Pharaoh, which essentially meant I never left the stage. I felt real bad for the costume moms, or whoever had to handle my costumes though. I’m a sweater.

What advice do you have for current CYT students?

The community you have around you right now is so special, and it is unlike anything else you are ever likely to experience. Do not take that for granted. Enjoy it, and take an active role in making the community even better.

Any last thoughts before we see you in June?

Come find me. Say hello. Tell me your story. And let’s take a picture.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from Jon and learn more about his experience with CYT, Broadway, and in ministry! To register for EXPO 2017 visit our EXPO site HERE!

My CYT Story: Always Encouraging

The following story was submitted by Micah M. from CYT San Antonio for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.

When I joined CYT San Antonio in August 2015, I was in no way what you call an “actor” or “thespian.” I was sixteen years old and had never participated in any formal drama, musical, or artistic expression of any kind. My very first night I was excited, but nervous. I joined a group I would stick to for my first three show sessions: CYT Players.

The very first night of rehearsal set the tone of the journey I began with CYT: crazy and fun. Everyone in the cast was so friendly and encouraging in my first show, “Trouble at the CYT Talent Show”, (an interactive murder mystery musical dinner theatre), which I humorously refer to as “The Evil Better Cousin of High School Musical.” The process of preparation and the show itself was absolutely thrilling and a blast to be a part of, except that it was part musical and I had to sing a song (thankfully with a partner) because I wasn’t fully confident in my singing ability yet. I was no Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables or the dude who played Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton.” It was fun though and I made new friends and found my love of drama, so I signed up for another class.

However, during the second show, I was a part of, “Peter-Wendy”, I felt a sort of disconnection from the cast. I felt like I was the odd man out, everyone knew each other except me. I understand this better now, however, since I’m an introvert and have a disorder that makes me struggle with social interaction (unless I know the person(s) very well). I finally shared my insecurities with the cast/my friends and they understood. They let me know I was loved by them and loved for who I am as a person. It took me some time to realize, but all my friends/CYT family love me just the way I am, just like God does.

After this, I participated in a condensed version of the play “30 Reasons Not To Be In a Play” and that show was hilarious and fun to be a part of. Later in July 2016, I did something I thought I would never do: I signed up for a CYT summer musical camp, for the show, “Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr.”. Everyone in the past was always asking if I would ever join in a musical, and when I finally did, everyone was so happy that I finally jumped in.

Being in a musical wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be. It was cool and fun just like making a play with the Players, just with singing and dancing. Granted, the process was just over a week, so I only developed a rough understanding of what the makings of a musical was, but it stretched me to a new place. It was after this and talking with my parents that I decided to try out for the Fall show, “Godspell.” This would be my first mainstage show with CYT. I auditioned, went to callbacks, and was cast in a role. It was after I started rehearsing with the cast and crew that I felt I truly understood what being in a musical was really like. I feel that Godspell is one of my favorite shows, not just because it was my first full mainstage musical and it was a fun process to do (which IT WAS!), but I grew in my acting, singing, and dancing skills and built better relationships with my cast mates/friends.

After months of long rehearsals and my very first Tech week, “Godspell” was finally upon everyone. However, during opening night, my throat was hurting, which I fought through. By the second day of shows, though, I felt awful, was running a fever, had partially lost my voice, and had to stay in bed during that night’s performance. Thankfully, by the next day I was feeling much better and participated in all the rest of the shows with everyone. Something that makes me very grateful and happy is that when I showed back up after being sick all the cast and crew asked how was I feeling and were visibly happy to see me back and ready to rock and roll in the show(s).

CYT has been such a blessing since I became a part of the group as I developed my gifts and skills and relationships. My instructor who has and still does make the biggest impact on my life while at CYT is Mr. Josh Scott. He has become like a second father to me and he is a person who knows me and loves me in a Christ-like manner. Mr. Scott has been an amazing influence in my life (Thank you, Mr. Josh). Then, there’s my amazing CYT family. I have so many brothers and sisters I have gained from CYT and am so grateful for all of them and love them all. I see the love of Christ in many of their eyes and thank them for all their encouraging words they’ve exchanged with me and positive influence in my life too (Thank you CYT family of CYT San Antonio-New Braunfels). Finally, I would like to thank CYT for providing the opportunity for young people to use their gifts and glorify God in the arts.

*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner.

My CYT Story: Giving It All

The following story was submitted by Megan H. from CYT San Diego for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.

As I walked into the large front doors of the church my small piece of carefully built confidence suddenly shattered. The action of the crowded audition room overwhelmed me. Everywhere I looked I saw girls my age who seemed to know exactly how to impress the panel of judges and nearly two hundred people who filled the rows of chairs. I wanted to turn around and go home. The pressures was on as I sat down and waited for my turn, but when it came it was hardly a relief. My mom told me “Don’t worry about anything else, just do your best.” As a small, skinny, 10-year-old girl climbed the steps all eyes we upon her. The music began and I froze. Before I knew what happened I was being grabbed by someone as I ran down the hallway. When I turned around I saw two teenage girls. They sat me down for a roughly one minute conversation that changed the course of my life. Without these encouraging words theater would not have been a part of my life because I was heeded for the parking lot with no intention of turning back. Instead I made up my mind to go back in and give my very poor rendition of Do-Re-Mi. Little did I know that in five years I would be one of the other girls in the story. And this is that story.

Much to my surprise I was cast in that very show. I had a blast and decided to go on a summer trip with my new friends. On a early July morning in the summer of 2013 I boarded the plane to Texas with three girls and four boys. This trip was another turning point in my life. It opened my eyes to another side of life. Days into the trip I was left alone with one other girl in our hotel room. As we sat adjacent to each other on our hotel beds and began to talk. Though I had never really had a conversation with her I definitely noticed her. She was beautiful ,kind, and a very talented performer. I looked up to her a lot ,and wanted to follow in her footsteps. As we talked I was interrupted by her she, Oliva said one sentence that I will never forget. Although small and seemingly meaningless these word impacted me beyond belief . They were “ You know Megan I always thought you were such a shy kid.”It was at this moment that I looked back on the year I had spent in CYT and realized how far I’d come and just how far I could go. I replay these words almost daily in my mind they remind me of my role model and mentor and the transformation that I have gone through in my life this far.

As the years moved on I continued in theatre. As I grew older I watched and learned from these same girls and leaders around me. However, life keeps moving forward and soon I was the age to take leadership. This amazing fact was also devastating as my mentors and close friends were aging out. I spent many nights wondering and murmuring “How am I ever going to give them all they deserve .” I had big shoes to fill as every young girl wanted to be just like Olivia. They come running from across the parking lot so that they can get the first hug of the day. They cry when she gets sick and misses a day of rehearsal. They just want her attention and want to be her. However, I can’t just say that about the eight year olds because I also want to run up to her and jump her her arms ; when I was 10 that would have been fine but here I am a 15-year-old. But, when I do see her, I yell “Hi mama” and she replies “Hi baby angel”. I look forward to these simple things and they are exactly what I will miss when my mama goes on to college. One day when we were watching a scene of our break I realized just how precious the time was. We were sitting next to each other my head was on her lap I suddenly began to cry she immediately asked me what was wrong and I managed to squeeze out the words “I’m not ready for you to go. How can I ever give the girls enough?“

She whispered in my ear, “You are ready baby angel.” I was almost angry. But how? Why is this my responsibility? I can’t be the one who makes them feel like they aren’t worthy of all the attention. How will I know what to do and how to make them feel like the daughters and sons of the creator. I’m just a kid myself. I realized that I had all of the responsibility to change a sway all of these young kids life in the right direction. But also the power to make them feel worthless and like just another kid.

From that moment on I made it my mission to give all I could possibly give to my theater family. Soon I realized that it wasn’t that easy or fun. Trying to be selfless is not a rewarding as it may appear. You don’t look like a saint or a flawless person. In fact often a little mistake makes others glare as if saying you know they are all watching you. Do you want them to do that? This new time in my life gave me even more appreciation for Olivia. She put aside her desires to meet those of others. I just want to relax, be on my phone, take ten minutes for myself, I just worked for four hours. I want to wear that, and say that. I want to be a teenager. Why did I think I could do it or that is was even a good idea? I spent years wanting to lead but it’s not all that I hoped it would be. It really sucks to know that I have all this responsibility. It doesn’t even seem worth it sometimes. However, I believe it is my calling. Because it was worth it to me when I was young. Seeing one girl who was always engaging, helpful, and selfless really changed me. There are definitely moments of much needed encouragement. I live for the yells of the kids as I enter the courtyard. “Megan! Megan! Kami she’s here, look!” They know just how to make me forget all my problems and sacrifices.

Looking back the polar opposite child climbing those steps I truly don’t know what I have done to be so blessed. My gratitude for those two girls and the one minute conversation that changed it all is immeasurable. I often wonder what would have happened if those girls were having a “I just want five minutes to myself” moment. Where would I be? So as I say goodbye to those girls I am filled with the hope that this is the same story that so many will get to share. I hope that I can stop just one from turning their backs on their potential and there waiting family.

*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner.

My CYT Story: Letting Go of the Drama

The following story was submitted by Madeline H. from CYT Sacramento for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.

Last year in the fall when I was in fifth grade, I auditioned for me very first CYT show. Before that I had only ever been in a school play but I had seen a few CYT shows and had been amazed. I have always loved theater because you can pretend to be something else. For a long time, I have been playing these imagination games with my friends. That is what started my love of acting. Imagination games are when you make up a scenario and it can be anything you want it to be.

I would play these games every recess at school with my friends. For years it was fun, until fifth grade. What was once a happy group of friends became a group of people who were pressured into bullying others . I never had my close friends turn on me before, and I felt betrayed. I just wanted my friends to be loyal, but they started acting in a way that friends shouldn’t. This really hurt me.

While this was happening, I auditioned for The Music Man. When I made it in, I was really happy. Soon after, I made lots of new friends at CYT. Friends have always been important
to me because you can trust them to always be there for you, and my new friends were there for me. I eventually worked out some of the problems with my school friends, but CYT filled the space that felt empty.

I love CYT because I felt like I was a part of something bigger, and I was. I was part of an amazing cast, and a cast is like a huge family that you can depend on and trust. I can be myself at CYT and know that my friends won’t laugh at me because we are all being ourselves. At CYT, I can embrace who I am, and not care about what people say.

During this time, CYT was my place where I could let go of all that friendship drama, and enjoy real drama.

*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2018 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner.