CYT In 2009 & A Glimpse Into The Next Decade

2009 has been a year of growth for Christian Youth Theater. Next year will be the 30th Birthday Celebration, looking back at all the fun years that produced what is now the largest children’s theater organization in America. So what exactly did CYT bring into the world this year? Good question indeed. Below is a list of creative deeds that helped shape the CYT community for the better. And for the curious, we leave you with a paragraph-glimpse into the next decade of CYT.

1. Vast Promotion.

CYT Fashion started with frustration, then passion, then drive. And now photo shoots, lots of photo shoots. Your off-stage costumes are available with logos and sayings like, “It’s the day of the show ya’ll” and “Act, Sing, Dance, Live.” In 2009 we also saw the rise of the #cytnational tweet, as well as the @cytnational list enabling followers to read all of CYT tweets across the nation, with one click. We also embraced CYT Mobile, a leader in micro-donations, in order for our patrons to donate via text messaging.

2. CYT Media Took Precedence.

CYT-TV had a great year with the new segment, “Do Stuff To Brad” as well as the announcement of the first annual CYT National Film Festival 09 (Although please pardon our stardust, CYT-TV will be back next year!). The CYT Blog continued to evolve with contributors around the nation lending their stories that went beyond the normal press release…. And then there’s the podcast. CYT realizes not everyone is a visual learner, and created this podcast for ya’ll who like listening rather than staring. Amen!

3. CYT Gives Back- Free Wheelchair Mission.

The idea proposed by Paul Russell is that we might combine our efforts to raise enough funds to send a batch of wheelchairs to Uganda- 500 wheelchairs at approximately $60 per chair. It is a way CYT can give to help bless others, since God has blessed all of us with so much in so many ways.

4. New NRL Emergence & Talkback.

CYT gets smarter. Organizing resources at the new National Resource Library has led to an easier navigation system, for YOU. With a search box and Talkback section, you can find resources in a timely manner and start purposeful conversations.

5. Birth Pains- Never!!

Last but certainly not least, CYT National welcomed CYT Wichita, CYT Lafayette, and CYT Indianapolis into the family, and has never been happier.

A Glimpse Into The Next Decade:

Austin, Arlington, Raleigh, Sacramento and Santa Cruz are all in the application process. CYT turns 30 with grace. Video curriculum, webisodes, CYT NY, yes we’ll have that too… . CYT Global probably means nothing to you at this point in time- however, with start-up requests from South Africa, Canada, and Korea, CYT will one day expand beyond America.

To infinity & beyond!…

A New Year, A New Musical – Creating CYT’s Sleeping Beauty

Really? You’re reading a blog? Why, yes you are. And personally I’m glad you are, because the last thing I need, is to know that the time I spent writing this is time that I’ve spent simply writing to myself. Maybe this is your first time reading a blog, maybe this is the fifth blog you’ve read today, and maybe you think you’re too good to read a blog, none of that really matters to me. What does matter to me, is that you took time to read this one. So, now that you’ve taken the time to read the cleverly worded title, and the blunt-but-lovingly crafted first few words, please take the time to at least read the rest of this entry. Yes, that will involve a few down-ward scrolls of the mouse, and a few minutes of your time, but hey.

Didn’t you make a New Years resolution?…I don’t know what that really has to do with anything. Maybe if you enjoy what you read at least somewhat, you’ll decide to join me on what I am calling “A New Year, a New Musical”- a two-and-a-half month journey of musical theatre fun through the creation of a brand new CYT original musical. A few times a week I’ll be updating this very blog with progress on the musical’s creation, fun stories from rehearsals, interviews with cast members and other artistic team members, a look behind the scenes with pictures and videos, and maybe even a few song demos that can be downloaded straight from this blog. It will give anyone interested in musical theatre a truly unique look at the process that every musical goes through to make it from first idea, to final curtain call.

So, now that you know where we’re going, I’m ready if you’re ready. Are you ready? Well probably not because you have no idea who I am, or what I’m talking about. Before we pack our bags, get the snacks together and pile into the minivan for our trip together, let’s get to know each other a little better shall we? I’ll go first.


Hi. My name is Taylor Peckham, I’m 18 years old, have been involved with CYT/CCT going on six years, and have never written a musical before. I’m a CYT alumnus and am currently working full time as a CYT core member for CYT San Diego. I teach classes twice a week at two different CYT San Diego locations, I manage all CYT music materials, and I am writing a new version of the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty with the company’s founder, Artistic Director, and overall spokesman, Paul Russell. The show itself will be a full-scale musical with 10+ original songs not including reprises, underscoring, and scene changes written by myself; it will also include an all-new script written by Mr. Russell with over thirty speaking roles, perfect for giving budding new CYT performers a chance to take the spotlight.

An exciting piece of news about the new show is that it will be premiering in two CYT areas at once….in two places across the country. Not only will Sleeping Beauty be premiering in CYT San Diego in the Central area, but it will also be premiering in CYT North Idaho! (If you’re reading this North Idaho, you’re wonderful). So, you know what that means? Not only will you be following the progress of our show here in San Diego, but you will also be able to follow the progress of North Idaho’s show as they create their own blog entries and watch how each Sleeping Beauty takes shape.

Well….there ya go. A little background on me (the blogger) and the show (what I’ll be bloggin ‘bout.) So, how will Sleeping Beauty bud and bloom into a full-scale production from a simple idea in Paul Russell’s mind? Make sure to check back here, at at least once a day to stay updated. I mean, if you want to check back like four or five times a day to re-read each entry and really soak in all each one has to offer….I’m not saying it’s a bad idea…..because it’s a really good one. Anyways, now I feel like I can ask you this question and expect an answer this time: are you ready? You got all your stuff packed? You got the snacks? You bring your camera? Good. Good, Alright, well ready or not…..but you just said you’re ready so I guess you’re ready….here we go – “A New Year, a New Musical”!

What? You forgot something? Too late, we’re out of the driveway and that means we can’t go back. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me!

CYT North Idaho Dances To The Virginia Reel


CYT North Idaho’s traveling musical is a Charles Dickens Classic. Discussing “A Christmas Carol”, Patrice Barnes, Show Director from CYT NI, told the CDA Press,

“It’s not just ‘A Christmas Carol’. It’s a little different…there’s music involved, and we’re dancing during the show. During the dream sequence, they do a Virginia Reel, which is a 17th Century dance.”

What’s a Virgina Reel dance you ask? Check out this dance scene from “Gone With The Wind”.

You can read more about “A Christmas Carol” and CYT North Idaho’s ‘Play in a Day’ fundraiser at the CDA Press.

CYT Richmond’s Makeup Artist: Annika Wooton


A 15-year-old girl from CYT Richmond is making strides on-stage and off.

Annika Wooton has worked backstage, offering hair and stage make-up artistry for countless Christian Youth Theater shows. She also happens to be the reigning Miss Apple Blossom Outstanding Teen of 2010, with plans of attending college in New York City (majoring in visual arts), and studying abroad in Paris. CYT has helped her with confidence and plenty more. “Through improv exercises, I can come up with spontaneous answers for interview that are pleasant to listen to and actually make sense,” says Annika.

What are the latest shows you have helped CYT Richmond with?

I’ve been in the makeup/hair room for Oliver, Narnia, Willy Wonka, and Wizard of Oz. Rehersals for Cinderella are about to start up and I’m going to actually be onstage for this one. 😉

Can you explain a little of what you do backstage at CYT?

I’m in the sweltering makeup and hair room. The first show I was back there was for Oliver and I only did hair. But I got really into the makeup for Narnia with all the animals! I’m an artist, so coming up with the textures for the fur and feathers of the creatures of Narnia was insanely amazing. I helped out Mrs. Rawlings (our queen-bee of the makeup room) with a lot of the complicated faces of the show and had the time of my life. I even got to do Aslan’s makeup for a few shows! For Cinderella, I’m sure that even though I’m in the show, I’ll be helping out in the makeup room whereever I’m needed when I’m not needed on stage.

Do you ever plan to be ‘on stage’ with CYT or elsewhere?

I do- I just got back into the swing of things with Cinderella, our winter show. It’s my first time back on stage with CYT since Charlotte’s Web which was May of 2007. I sing on the praise team at church and am involved in dramatic readings and theatrical productions there, as well.

You are a passionate girl; tell us about the platform on which your crown resides.

The Miss America crown has four points and they all stand for different things: Scholarship, Style, Service, and Success. My platform is the African Well Fund. Ten thousand children die every morning just because they don’t have access to basic things like food, water, or shelter. We have access to so much! We don’t have to worry if the next sip of water we take will kill us or not. I found out that it would only cost $10,000 to build three fresh-water wells in Africa. I started a program called “Spare Your Change, Spare a Life”. I made my goal 10,000 dollars and so far I’m halfway there!

Penny by penny, drop by drop, I’m reaching my goal and giving the gift of life to hundreds of people. Our change is worth more in the world than it is in our pockets and little by little, I am truly making a difference.

You can read more about Annika and her platform, the African Well Fund, here.

Quote Of The Week: CYT Chicago Parent

“My daughter and I belonged to a father-daughter group for many years with another couple that was already in CYT, and they kept asking us to come see their shows. He’d send me the emails and I kept hitting delete thinking I’m not going to some children’s youth theater thing. After we finally did go to one show my daughter walked out and said, ‘Daddy I want to do this’. There was no question, it was like ‘Mini Broadway’, and i just decided that it was the time to do it.”

– CYT Chicago Parent, CYT Chicago Letter Writing Fundraising Video.

Click here to learn more about CYT Chicago’s Letter Fundraising campaign, and make sure to watch the inspiring video below.

Thanksgiving For Christmas, With CYT Denver


Recently CYT Denver received an unsolicited letter from parents Mark and Stephanie Raymond, after their production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”  The letter  below is addressed to the directors of the show, and details their daughter Darien Raymond’s evolution within CYT, specifically her role as Mrs. Meers.

“She was cast as a main character in ‘Millie’ and really blossomed and just blew us all away…. Out of nowhere she became an awesome performer, leader and great example to the other kids (she also ended up winning the Rose Award),” said Gary Dean Hathaway, of Darien.

A perfect read, for a splendid December night:

thanks from kc

Bundles of Blessings

This fall, CYT Kansas City helped City Union Mission spread ‘Bundles of Blessings’ to the homeless. Watch above as broadcaster Kelly Eckerman unfolds the story at KMBC, Kansas City’s local news station.

What an awesome way to help those in need. And they are not the only ones…

CYT Chicago also gave of their time to help those in need this Christmas Season. This past weekend, on Dec. 12th, they offered their gift-wrapping services in exchange for non-perishable food donations. The event was hosted by North Shore Bank, celebrating their 10th anniversary.

You can read the story at the Journal Times.