CYT Atlanta wins Top Award at the National Performing Arts Festival

Congratulations to CYT Atlanta for taking home the top award at the National Performing Arts Festival!

CYT Atlanta took home the top honor for Best Performance of “Jekyll and Hyde.” The festival was held last weekend at Walt Disney World in Orlando. According to the website,

“[The National Performing Arts Festival] is the only theatre festival for where top performing groups from throughout the country compete in an atmosphere of sharing and learning….All festivals include a 20-minute performance on stage, a private feedback clinic taught by a theater professional, workshops, and an awards ceremony.”

Individual Awards at the festival include:

Outstanding Solo Performance: Ella Muir
Outstanding Solo Performance: Tess Luman
Outstanding Actress in a musical: Hannah Valleroy
Outstanding Actress in a musical: Alex Crump
Outstanding Actor: Jacob Valleroy

Alumni Update: SD’s Denyse Tontz Appears in Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush”

This week Southwestern College featured CYT San Diego Alum Denyse Tontz in their newspaper, The Sun!

At 16, Denyse Tontz is a working model and recording artist- and has landed a role on Nickelodeon’s hit show, “Big Time Rush.” Here are selections from the article:

When she auditioned for “Big Time Rush” the day before her 15th birthday, she said had no idea just how big it would be. Tontz plays the role of one of the “Jennifers,” a trio of well-off and conceited girls sharing the same name. Reminiscent of “the plastics” from the motion picture “Mean Girls,” the Jennifers are a prominent obstacle the main characters have to face, berating them on a regular basis.

In addition to charity work, Tontz continues to contribute to local theatre. She helps do hair and make-up for CYT, where her younger sister still participates in productions. “We’re big CYT people,” she said.

All I can say is that she is very determined and passionate,” her mother said. “And I am sure her hard work will be rewarded soon. Denyse has very strong values and faith and I think that is what is going to get her to reach her dreams to become a great role model for society.”

Read the complete article, here.
Find out more about Denyse Tontz at her website.

Thursday Testimonial: CYT Richmond’s Erica Randall

Not long ago, CYT Richmond posted a blog about student Erica Randall. Here is her CYT testimony:

This past summer I signed (literally, I took my Dad’s credit card) myself up for CYT’s summer camp. Being from San Diego I grew up with CYT’s everywhere and my parents took me to many of their shows. After seeing CYT (Richmond) perform Cinderella, I knew I had to join. So I went to camp knowing a few people. By the time of the last show, I had found a place I belonged. We would have these amazing worship sessions during camp, and every song seemed to be picked just for me. We had an overnight at Camp Hanover, while there my life was changed, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Those 24 hours revived in me a hope and faith that with God I would get through life, not just barely making it but being a conqueror. I know that life can be very difficult, but when you my friend may be tempted to lose hope just remember that God has plans – good plans for your life!”

CYT Indy Performs to Record Attendance – In Spite of the Weather!

Ice Storm! Even on a week when you have nothing planned, it is a scary phrase.

Have tech week planned and those are words that can cause doubt amongst the strongest CYT believers. How do you get it all done when the Ice Storm of the Century is bearing down upon you? Well, that was the week leading up to CYT Indy’s Tom Sawyer Production. As the first Dress Rehearsal was in full swing on Monday, we could hear ice pelting the stage door. Time to let everyone go home early- safety first! The ice continued on Monday night and on Tuesday, everything was shut down – businesses, roads, and most importantly – schools! 1/2″ of ice equals no rehearsal! Wednesday came and most of the city remained shut down, including schools, but by Wednesday afternoon, the roads were passable and the CYT Indy Staff found an alternative rehearsal spot.

All 100 kids, cast and crew, came together and put their collective hearts into fine tuning the show! Thursday was lurking and so were our planned school day performances. If school was cancelled again, what would we do about those performances? Could they be rescheduled for Friday?

And so it was that school was cancelled on Thursday and the angst over whether we would have school day performances on Friday was still there, but at least we could have a real final dress rehearsal into our venue.  As it were, Friday came and there was a two hour school delay, but WE WOULD PERFORM. Schools that had planned to travel for our performance rescheduled and at  11am on February 4th, the show went on! That morning, 413 students saw the production.

Over the course of the weekend, it snowed some more, but we never had to cancel any shows and we played to record attendance. It was truly a week of doing what we could do and letting God handle the rest! Faith played out in real time in real ways!

Hats off to the Cast, Crew, and Parents of CYT Indy’s Tom Sawyer for their flexibility and perseverance! The CAN DO attitude is reaching more and more people each time, not matter what Mother Nature throws at you!

Contributed by Trish Hunter

CYT San Diego Honors Matthew Herriman with a Bow

This week CYT San Diego is honoring Matthew Herriman by wearing a bow.

Last Thursday morning CYT San Diego Alumn, Matthew Herriman, passed away from unknown causes. Matt lived a full life- prior to becoming San Rafael’s Contemporary Choir Director and Parish Cantor, he was involved with CYT SD’s NCI area from the very beginning. He also taught voice classes and improv. Darlene Herriman, Matt’s mother, said:

When Matt was little he kept asking me if he had a bow. I didn’t know what he was talking about, so I asked him, ‘What do you mean a bow?’ Matt said, ‘Well, mom, you always said I was a gift, so if I wondered if I came with a bow.’ It was just a reminder that each person, each day is truly a gift. Matt Herriman, for his short 28 years on earth, was a gift to everyone he was around.”

Matt’s services will take place at San Rafael Church in Rancho Bernardo:
Tuesday, February 22 – Viewing from 5-7pm & Vigil Service, 7pm
Wednesday, February 23 – Mass of the Resurrection at 1 p.m.

Please pray for his parents, Ray & Darleen Herriman, as they proceed through the next days, weeks and months coping with what we know is incredible grief.

“Fiddler on the Roof Jr.” Actor Ponders Life as a Rich Man

CYT Chicago student, Chris O’Brien, was interviewed by the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate last week. O’Brien told the paper what life would be like if his character Tevye were a “Rich Man”:

“He’s a dreamer. [He] is a very devoted father to his daughters, to tradition throughout his community, and he’s also very devoted to God and his religion. I think people can connect with him because he’s so emotional, but he’s also very inviting. He’s witty and funny. He’s just a lovable character.”

Chris also made mention of Tevye as a role model, “It’s a story of how devoted a person can be to his family, to the things he loves, to the things that are important.”

“Fiddler on the Roof Jr.” closes this weekend. Visit to purchase tickets.