Theater is hard

Theater is hard. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of nerves, excitement, disappointment, joy, stress, and pride. There are highs and lows at each step of the way – from auditions to callbacks, the cast list coming out to the first rehearsal, and tech week through the final curtain call. Sometimes, you audition for a show and then have the privilege of being a part of the cast! But what happens when you nail your audition AND callback, and then are disappointed with your part, or don’t even see your name on the cast list?

Two moms from CYT Fredericksburg share what they’ve learned from watching their children go through the casting process and face disappointment. Stefanie, mother of five, wrote in the fall about two of her kids’ auditions with CYT Fredericksburg’s fall shows, “White Christmas” and “Junie B. Jones”, and Heather writes about her daughter’s audition for CYT Fredericksburg’s winter show, “Willy Wonka Jr.”. CYT really is building character one stage at a time, not only in our students, but in our parents as well!

Read through Stefanie’s and Heather’s beautifully worded stories in the links below!

The Overholtzer’s Lives: The Right Fit

Southern Mama Speaks: The Callback List


My CYT Story and GIVE CYT – Dr. Heather LaForge, Director of Operations for CYT Inc.

Since I began working for CYT Inc. in 2012, I have had the profound privilege of helping SEVEN affiliates get started. That means CYT is in seven more cities than it was 4 years ago, with thousands more students being trained each year in our incredible programs.

Helping get new CYTs off the ground and into new communities is one of my favorite roles. I spend hours working with incredible individuals across the country, training, coaching, and supporting all in the name of giving more kids access to this organization. The cost to CYT Inc. to get a new CYT off the ground is roughly $25,000. It is costly, but I know first hand that it is so worth it. Before I stepped into my role of Director of Operations at CYT Inc., I was part of a CYT start up in Santa Cruz, CA.

Kick Off Celebration for CYT Santa Cruz, right after I was hired! That's me in the middle, some of the dedicated Santa Cruz leadership, and my youngest daughter (my now 6 year old) in the baby bjorn.

Kick Off Celebration for CYT Santa Cruz, right after I was hired! That’s me in the middle, some of the dedicated Santa Cruz leadership, and my youngest daughter (my now 6 year old) in the baby bjorn.

In 2010, a handful of dedicated individuals prayed about bringing CYT to Santa Cruz, CA. These individuals worked together and rallied the Santa Cruz community, and I jumped on board as Artistic Director shortly before we held our first session of classes in January 2011. I relied heavily on CYT Inc. for support as our team sought to make the CYT Santa Cruz experience as strong as it could be. I spent hours either on the phone or skyping with the CYT Inc. team, reaching out with questions and prayer requests as we stumbled through our first year producing 3 full shows and running a camp of more than 100 students. I cannot imagine starting up a theatre company without their support.

When my husband was transferred to San Diego in 2012, I prayed that God would use my work with CYT Santa Cruz to further glorify him and his community. Two months after moving to San Diego, I began working for CYT Inc. and am now on the other side of the calls from affiliates, offering support, wisdom, and encouragement to those leaders on the ground.

NLC last year with all the CYT Leaders!

NLC last year with all the CYT Leaders!

It’s incredible to witness what God is doing through our current affiliate programs. But as we work to support our current affiliates, we continually receive questions about how to bring CYT to new communities. Week after week families seek support to get CYT off the ground in their local cities. We have a goal of being in every state in the next ten years. This is an expensive goal, but we believe that we can do it. In order to respond to these requests, and to impact more communities, we need your help.

This #GivingTuesday we want to GIVE CYT to a brand new community. It costs roughly $25,000 to help establish a CYT in a new city, and we’ve been blessed by a private group of donors who are willing to MATCH EVERY DOLLAR donated through this campaign from now until December 31st, 2016. If we reach our goal of $12,500 (which will be matched to $25,000), you will be a part of helping bring CYT to a brand new community, and more lives will be impacted because of your generosity.

Please contribute and help us GIVE CYT. Your generosity will impact the lives of families and individuals for years to come. Donate HERE today!

CYT Poem

What do you think of when you think of CYT? Sage Moore, 12 year old CYT North Idaho student and Elf Jr. cast member, wrote this poem and shared it with the CYT NI staff. Bliss Lanier, Executive Director, said “We fell in love with it and thought all CYT families across the country could relate to this young poets take on CYT!”

By Sage Moore

Quiet six inch voices
Warm hugs that make me smile
I know these are friends I’ll keep all the while
Snack time and chatting with friends
Hot spotlights on my face
Before a show we always say grace
Exciting music that makes me want to dance
Standing ovations that makes me proud
For some reason backstage gets very loud
Anxious for strike party, but knowing I’ll have to say goodbye
When I am with my friends I am never bored
I wonder who will win the Rose Award?


Thank you, Sage, for sharing your poem! We love seeing what comes to mind when students and staff think of CYT.

Do YOU have a story or poem you want to share? Submit your work under “Submit A Story” in the tabs above!

Family Matters in CYT San Diego


CYT has a way of unconsciously growing your family. The connections you make every rehearsal and every production stick with you, even as you move on from one show to the next. In CYT San Diego, Katrina (an Area Coordinator) and her daughter, Olivia, are seeing firsthand how CYT encourages “understanding, tolerance, generosity…the list goes on.”

“I don’t know why it caught me off guard. It shouldn’t have, given today’s social climate. But it did.  And I couldn’t stop thinking about it. You see, our CYT North County Inland family was enjoying our East County friends in their performance of Elf Jr, and let me tell you we love to see each other’s shows!  After the show, (you know the part where we hug all the people we see and love from past shows) I hugged my friend Tinika and she leaned in and said, ‘You know, I was so encouraged to see them cast that beautiful little girl as Olivia’s daughter in Godspell. It was like, that’s her daughter and that’s it.’  It was in that moment that I felt so grateful to be part of this artistic process in THIS show with THIS community. You see, my friend is a different ethnicity than I am. The beautiful little girl she referred to is a different ethnicity than Olivia. This casting choice was not a gimmick. It was not a social statement. It was simply a connection made. Nobody watching them together can deny their bond. It was evident in callbacks and it is evident in every single rehearsal. Our artistic team did make specific casting choices. In telling this story, they chose to concentrate on the humanity of the disciples and their journey as followers of Jesus. It wasn’t an overt casting choice for the sake of diversity…it just made sense at the time given the interaction. And isn’t that something.
I know we are not solving the problems of the world here at CYT, but we are encouraging a human connection. My friend’s honest encouragement has definitely inspired me to pay more attention as we build our CYT community. Having kids 8-18 years of age of all ethnicities work, play, and learn together benefits all parties. It breeds understanding, tolerance, generosity…the list goes on. If our kids can bring this ability to connect and truly see and value each other as a common people out in to the world then I KNOW they will make things better. And, as we sing in Godspell, ‘We can build a beautiful city, not a city of angels, but finally, a city of man.'”

Thank you, Katrina, for sharing your story! We love hearing how CYT impacts the lives of those involved, and we can’t wait to see how you in turn can impact the world!

CYT Dallas’ Heart is Beating Strong!

Are you involved with CYT? Were you at Expo this year? Guess what! You are impacting others and showing them the heart behind CYT without even realizing it! Take a look at Ruth Bennett’s (CYT Dallas’ Board Member) take-away from her time at Expo.

“I attended CYT EXPO in San Diego a few weeks ago and came away with some definite impressions of what this thing really is and what Tyler has been trying to communicate to us while he follows God’s lead to get this going for CYT Dallas.
May I share some observations?
First, I’m very thankful that the first national gathering I attended was the one that the young people attend to compete and perform. The improv competition was gut-busting worthy and the showcase each city performed (a dance and song from a musical they had done) showed their dedication to great art.  My favorite take away regarding the young performers:  when J. Mark McVey (who has performed the role of Jean Valjean 2000+ times) compared the life of that character to his own, marking bitterness, forgiveness and then a heart of abundant generosity. During his presentation he would sing songs from Les Mis that most young people would scoff at.  But these CYT students – who have all labored and struggled to perform these same songs – stood to their feet over and over with great praise and admiration for this tenor in anguish.  It was noteworthy for several reasons but I was excited that this level of respect for theater was well taught to our young and that they want to value it and carry it on.
Secondly, I was with Tyler…THE Tyler.  My, how you all treasure this young man! It was endearing to me to see how well regarded he is by all of you and to confirm what I felt I knew…he is very gifted, very respected and highly sought after.  Currently, Tyler wears all 3 hats (AD, MD, AC) while we begin this great engine.  (Yes, I’ll pause while you say a quick but passionate prayer for him.)  My time with all of you seated in me what each role truly is and the significance of what Tyler’s role has been for us thus far.  Applications are being taken…
Lastly, during leadership sessions, every aspect of what CYT does and what that should look like was covered.  Interestingly, each city had slightly different ways to accomplish the same things and CYT INC gladly received new ideas that sounded like they would help the experience. I learned a lot.  I also had a driving need to see the CYT Warehouse in San Diego where all of their props, costumes and set design happens.  Magically (thank you God) the Area Coordinator for San Diego offered to take me there.  It was crazy unfathomable!  Wow! Show after show all laid out in fabric and wood in a massive building of pathways and ladders.  My take away: My guide, Katrina, took me to Mt. Helix – Paul Russell told us about this outdoor amphitheater on the top of a mountain when he and Sheryl visited with us on a trip they took to Austin.  Along the way she told me many stories but my favorite was that she was raised strictly Catholic and has never been comfortable with praying aloud.  She said it was always taught as a private, silent conversation with God.  It was irreverent to say “Jesus” out loud. When her daughter got involved with CYT there was a barrage of praying aloud that shook her (Katrina) a little bit and she took some time to adjust.  She said that the thing that has blown her away is that, in the presence of CYT leaders, her daughter quickly became a vibrant prayer with no hesitation about praying aloud.  The young leaders there began a bible study and invited the CYT kids and this has made all the difference in this family.
My CYT EXPO 2016 summary?
1 – I can now see the path we are on quite literally.
2 – We are blessed to have Tyler as our seed for growth. We will listen carefully to his thoughts.
3 – We are about to make this come alive for Dallas families and set some awkward kids in their element!
Thank you to each and every participant in EXPO that shared ideas and pitched their passions near me.  It’s an honor to be on board.
Ruth Bennett
CYT Dallas”

CYT Dallas is coming alive!! Keep that heartbeat going strong! We believe in you and we can’t wait to see your impact on the community!Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.06.17 PM

CYT Seattle Launches with a Play in a Day!

We are so excited to share this news with everyone! It’s official…CYT Seattle just held their first event EVER – Play in a Day!seattle

With help from their loving neighbors (Shoutout to CYT North Idaho and Chill Bucket Productions!!) the launch of CYT Seattle was a success! Between the start of rehearsal at 8am and the curtain rising at 7:30pm, the students built sets, learned choreography, studied lines, memorized blocking, and developed new friendships.

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Three new friends at CYT Seattle’s Play in a Day launch event

The event was a great launch for the new affiliate! So many new CYT parents and leadership volunteered their time and efforts to getting this event off the ground. Along with staff and resources from CYT North Idaho, former CYT North Idaho Artistic Director Jeff Rocco came and served as the director for the event. Not only that, but Chill Bucket Productions offered tons of support through the entire process.

Director, Jeff Rocco, and some of the CYT Seattle cast

Director, Jeff Rocco, and some of the CYT Seattle cast

CYT is one big, awkward family, and we love seeing affiliates support one another! As Summer Moshy (CYT Seattle’s Artistic Director) said, “Get ready, CYT, our awkward family just got bigger!”

CYT Seattle's first ever cast!

CYT Seattle’s first ever cast!

Make sure you show CYT Seattle some love and go like their Facebook page! We can’t wait to see what they do next!!

Who, What, Wear at EXPO!



Hi everyone, this is Rachael Baciocco from CYT Inc! I’m running around with the rest of the staff helping to get everything ready for EXPO. (And all the while wearing that cool backpack you guys all get when you arrive!) We are so excited and can’t wait to meet you all! EXPO is right around the corner so here are a few more fun details just for you.

So, you want to know the “Who, What, and Wear” at EXPO?

WHO you ask? That’s easy. YOU! That is, if you’re going to EXPO. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late! Click HERE to register now!

WHAT cool items can we hope to win at this year’s EXPO? Well I’m glad you asked! There are some amazing prizes you can win through the Opportunity Drawing! (items include Apple watch, iPad mini, $250 Visa gift card, NYC condo 2 night stay, and more!)

Tickets can be purchased at EXPO only!

  • $1 for 1 ticket
  • $10 for an arm’s length of tickets
  • $20 for a body length (bring someone tall!)

Also, we will be doing free give-aways all EXPO long, and you could win some cool prizes JUST BY BEING THERE!

But what are you going to WEAR? Here is what the EXPO staff is wearing (this is for you, Kara & Emily from CYT Fredericksburg!) Why not match with some of our staff and wear these items too? Of course you don’t have to, but how fun would it be if we were all wearing CYT gear the entire event? You will receive an “EXPO only discount” on all of these items and more, because we LOVE you! So there!

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Sunday: Affiliate Shirt / I <3 CYT

We’re wearing our I <3 CYT shirts! Come to check-in wearing your affiliate shirt/Improvathon shirt loud and proud, or wear your I <3 CYT shirt and let the world know how much you love CYT!



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Monday, the first full day of expo! With our #Auditions shirts on we’ll be ready to take on the day and say that we #NAILEDIT




Tuesday: Retro CYT Shirt day/trucker hat

Hey! Remember those cool tanks from last year’s EXPO? Or perhaps your Awkwardly Closer Than Family shirt? Wear any of the older CYT shirts, like one of your affiliate show shirts, Shuffle Off To Buffalo T-shirt, you get the idea. And don’t forget to wear your new Trucker Hat that you can purchase at EXPO!


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Wednesday: #JAZZHANDS

Wednesday is the last day of EXPO (AKA the #BIGFINISH). Wear your new #JAZZHANDS shirt with the EXPO staff, or another CYT shirt you have!




And that’s the Who, What, and Wear of it! Get your gear together, get excited, and get ready for EXPO 2016! See you in June!