Assistant Director for “Bonnie & Clyde” on Broadway, Jeremy Lapp Talks NYC and CYT

If you remember Jeremy Lapp at age five, performing in “Pete’s Dragon,” or CCT’s “The Wizard of Oz,” you’re most likely one of his best friends. And if you’re one of his best friends, you know that the CYT San Diego Alum is currently laboring on Broadway. Lapp’s life is anything but anti-climatic- having traveled coast-to-coast this past year, he now resides in New York City working as an Assistant Director for “Bonnie & Clyde.”

I recently interviewed Lapp about “Bonnie & Clyde,” NYC, and his experience with CYT. The show itself got its start at La Jolla Playhouse in the Fall of 2009, where interestingly enough, both the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune gave it less than stellar reviews, said Lapp. It took some time to tighten up the production, but now word of mouth for Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway is gaining momentum.

The opening night for “Bonnie and Clyde” is December 1st. I’ve read that The Huffington Post calls the production “a stunner.” Is that true?

“Bonnie and Clyde” is truly a beautiful production from beginning to end. It’s a throwback to the original musicals of the past. It isn’t based on the 1960 movie, it’s not a revival, and it doesn’t feature a big Hollywood name in the lead role. At its core it’s simply a new musical, based on real people, a clear book, with a great score by Frank Wildhorn and stunning direction by Jeff Calhoun. It also features two young up and coming stars who are sure to leave their mark on Broadway.

Have the previews been a success?

Our previews (33 in total) have been great! Full, responsive audiences and the word of mouth on the street is very strong. The big reviews (New York Times and Variety) will start to trickle in after opening night, December 1st. The show has been an incredibly rewarding journey and has resulted in my Broadway debut. And for that, I will be forever grateful!

What was the audience reception of “Bonnie and Clyde” at the La Jolla Playhouse?

The Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune both critiqued the show, “not enough promise….” Don’t get me wrong, a lot of friends in the business came and raved about the show. There was definitely potential. Luckily, we have a great group of producers who believe in the show and its collaborators. So they pushed the show forward for a Fall 2010 run at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota, Florida. Scenes were dropped, characters were tightened, and half of the score was replaced, but we opened in Florida with a buzz about New York. The great thing about Frank Wildhorn (music), Don Black (lyrics), Ivan Menchell (book) and Jeff Calhoun (director) is that they never stopped working. Even when we got to New York, everyone was fully behind the piece and kept tightening to make it better!

Tell me why you adore working in NYC.

I have been coming out to New York every other year for the last ten years. There is something special about this city that you can’t find anywhere else! It’s a horse carriage ride thru Central Park, FAO Schwartz, a gyro from a food cart, people watching in the subway, taxi rides (don’t get me started) and a city that eats, sleeps and breathes the Arts. Nothing can match the feeling of walking to rehearsal on 42nd street, bundled in a jacket and scarf then heading over to the theatre, going thru the stage door and working on a Broadway stage. It’s easily been one of the best experiences of my life and I look forward to working on Broadway for many years to come!

You recently tweeted, “According to the League of American Theaters, a ‘heavy’ theatergoer is someone who goes 4-5 times a year. Hate to think what that makes me.” Explain.

I find that particular statistic quite amusing, and that’s a study led by the League of American Theaters. I personally see 4-5 shows a month and I have to pick and choose. I wish more people would choose to go and see live theatre.

Are you disappointed with American’s perception with theatre?

I wouldn’t say that I’m disappointed with America’s perception of theatre. Broadway is a billion dollar industry and the numbers seem to be rising each year. Too often, we forget what theatre is supposed to do. To allow the actors and audience a window into the society in which we live. Present a forum where people can gather and talk about the issues that have been presented throughout the night. I am interested in theatre that can move an audience. Working on material with integrity, you have the opportunity to literally impact the lives of thousands of people.

You recently directed “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” for CCT VanPort. It was their first CCT show ever. Please tell all…

I was fortunate to spend last summer in Vancouver, Washington working with Kristi Foster, their wonderful new Artistic Director, in mounting their first ever CCT production. I received a phone call from Justin Parks, a dear friend from my time in CYT, who had asked me if I would be interested in helping them start.

What was your spin on the direction?

The great thing about “Joseph” is that it’s one of those shows where you can re-imagine and put your own spin on the classic biblical story. I used the concept of a dream expo where a team of inspirational speakers aptly named the “Dream Team” came to speak and encourage the audience to daydream, giving them permission to visualize what they would like their life to be like. From there, the narrator took the audience back to biblical times and led them thru the story of Joseph, his family and one very loud coat :)

You’ve been involved with CYT since you were five. What was your first CYT show?

I joined CYT when I was five and was part of the first graduating class of Our Gang with Janie Russell. In fact we were so young when we started that they created Our Gang 2 because we had done all the classes they had to offer at the time. My first CYT show was “Pete’s Dragon” in East County.

Did you aspire to direct on Broadway at that age, or did you have other goals?

At that early age, I don’t think I necessarily had aspirations for working on Broadway or directing, but now if you look back at those early years, there were definitely signs that pointed towards that. In pre-school I would bring buckets of costumes from home and would dress up my fellow classmates and direct homemade versions of musicals for parent night! I also had a miniature stage at home that I would create sets and costumes for my play-mobile, and re-stage the shows that my Grandmother would take me to see.

I performed in over 100 musicals with CYT, CCT, FAME, STARLIGHT and LAMBS PLAYERS from the time I was five until I turned eighteen, and graduated out. I started directing and teaching for CYT and was doing it as a hobby as I went to school for Graphic Design (parents convinced me not to get a degree in performing arts). It wasn’t until I was in Chicago (in the Spring of 2008) directing Jon Lorenz’ original musical, “Alice in Wonderland” for CYT Chicago that I decided to pursue directing theatre professionally. While I was in Chicago, I got hired to work as an intern at the La Jolla Playhouse after three years of applying for the program. Within two weeks of rehearsals, I was bumped to Assistant Director on “Xanadu.” It pays to be persistent!

If you could give some advice to future Broadway hopefuls, what would you say?

Learn how to work with others and build business relationships! Never lose a contact! Learn how to take rejection. Don’t just have a dream, have a plan. And chase down those plans like they’re the last bus of the night.

P.S. Post Scripts are fun…Jeremy sent this quote via email. Enjoy!

“Broadway Musicals call us to see the best in ourselves and in the world around us – to believe that no matter how hopeless things may seem, the nice guy can still get the girl, the hero can still triumph over evil, and a brighter day can be waiting just around the bend.” – President Obama


An inside look at a Tech Rehearsal- 47 laptops and computers were counted.

CYT San Diego Alumni: All Grown Up


(l-r: Zack Wolfe, Justin Elwell, Robbie Hambrick, Josh Elwell, Jesse Abeel, Owen Spruill, Kevin Bradel, Alex D’Avignon, Chris Ninness, Jason Russell)

CYT San Diego Alumni were recently photographed at fellow alum Courtney Evans’ outdoor wedding in San Diego! The guys were in the same bible study together- Jason Russell was their leader.

Winter Classes Open for CYT Fredericksburg

CYT offers three 10-week sessions (core classes in drama, voice, and dance, plus specialty classes which vary from session to session) during the school year (fall, winter and spring) of a variety of after-school theater arts classes for children ages 4-18. Those students (ages 8-18) enrolled in Winter 2012 CYT classes are eligible to audition for our upcoming fall show, Oliver.
The cost for a 10-week session (20 hours of instruction) is currently $180/student. Sibling discounts are offered.
Classes currently meet on Mondays and Tuesdays at three separate locations. We offer afternoon and evening classes at Chancellor Baptist Church on Mondays, evening classes at Fairview at River Club on Tuesdays, and we offer one CYT session class on Monday evenings at the CYT Studio. CLASSES BEGIN THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 5, 2011. The Winter Showcase will be held on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2012.
For more info please visit: http://www.cytfredericksburg.org/classes/
Or call: 540-786-3737.

Why YOU are Thankful for CYT: Thanksgiving Responses

Happy Thanksgiving from CYT! Last week we posed a question: Why are YOU thankful for CYT? Here are your gracious responses:

“Because it instills caring attitudes, youthful exuberance and talents that are given from above.” -Leah Traher Tag

“Because it brought my family to a great group of people who teach everyday through their active faith” -Trish Hunter

“I’m thankful for CYT because I have been taught (and now am teaching) that the performing arts and God are not mutually exclusive – that using my talents for Him is praise, and that God inhabits the praises of His people!” -Kylie Gaulding Green

“I am thankful for CYT because it’s given me a place to be myself, make friends, and worship the Lord through something I love to do: sing!” -Devan Zarro

“I am thankful for the safe, loving environment where my child can explore her creativity and for the incredible relationships developed there both for my child and myself.” -Debbie Belshe Rutler

“I am thankful to CYT for introducing me to my husband & all of my dearest friends… 20 years after my first CYT show, and my closest friends are all people I met in CYT (including my huz!)” -Wendie Ward

“I am thankful for CYT because my daughter and I have found great friends, had many laughs and have been entertained both on and off the stage. In addition to that my daughter has had the best relationships with not only the greatest kids on the planet but with adults like Jon Thuerbach and Kathy Burkle Thuerbach. They have given me enormous support in the raising a teenager. She is confident, a hard worker, and dedicated to her craft. . CYT will always hold a special place in our hearts and we are grateful to God to be blessed to have had the many opportunities that CYT has given us!” -Lisa Quesenberry

“CYT is a safe, wonderful, caring, nurturing place to be with other Christians where our children can develop and enjoy the talents God has given them and share them with others, as we are called to do. The shows are absolutely amazing and we hope to someday soon watch our children perform on the CYT stage. God bless you all! We are so very thankful for CYT!” -Brenda Meeter Beltz

“I am thankful for the fellowship my daughter has found with other spiritual youth who are, like her, using their talents all for the glory of God.” -Katy Short Yost

“I’m thankful for CYT because of how everyone is very close and its like one big family! I also love the fellowship and the worship side of it too…its just another place where I can grow closer to God! Thanks CYT for everything you guys do! =)” -Taylor Read

“CYT has been a wonderful outlet for two of my kids. They have been able to be themselves, have fun, learn and make life-long friendships. ALso it has been a joy for my husband and I to meet a great group of parents. They are all a blessing to us and we praise God he has allowed us to be a part of CYT Richmond, VA.” -Michele Heath Read

“So thankful to CYT for giving my daughter a place where she can use the talents God has given and remain who she is . . . for giving all my children fun, creative classes where they can explore different creative outlets . . . for giving me a chance to stay involved in theater, and develop new skills and interests through my volunteer committees . . . for teaching my kids that they can worship God through song, dance, service and fellowship. CYT rocks!!!!”
-Marybeth McKenna Markee

“I am so thankful for CYT because it allows kids from all different backgrounds to come together and perform for the Glory of the Lord. I have been in CYT for 5 years, performed in 12 shows, and since the very beginning I have met the most amazing people that will stay in my heart forever… Thank you Lord for CYT!” -Michael Brennan

“So grateful to be working with amazing people on such an amazing mission!” -Joshua Tucker

“I am thankful for CYT because it has brought me closer to GOD and to know that there’re kids and teens that have a relationship with GOD. Also for the friends I have met, I can go to any friend, parent or Artistic Team and ask them for help with anything and they will always be willing to help. Lastly for having a good outlet that I can go to after school, to work on what I am passionate about and to have a friendly and safe environment, free of Drama (except for the drama that’s on the stage of course).” -Chandler Jez

Q&A with CYT Richmond’s “Annie”

Bobbie Edmunds stars as as Annie in CYT Richmond’s latest production. She was interviewed about her role in a local online newspaper, this week.

Here is a selection from the Q&A:

Tell us a little about yourself.
I am 12 years old and in the seventh grade at Orchard House School. Annie is my fourth production with CYT. I also have been swimming with NOVA swimming for 10 years. I live with my parents and my sister Paige, who is 15 and has autism.

What do you do when you are not acting?
I really love acting, singing and dancing which, of course, takes up a lot of my free time. I have just started learning to play the piano. Also, I love to swim and hang out with my friends.

Do you think you will pursue a career in performing?
I have always wanted to be on Broadway, but I know it is really hard to make that dream come true. If it doesn’t work out, I either hope to pursue another career in theatre or become an architect or occupational therapist.

When did you first get involved with the theatre?
For many years, I attended Barksdale/Theatre IV’s summer camp, so I decided to audition for their production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. “ After that production, I was hooked. My music teacher introduced me to CYT and I auditioned for my first show “Willy Wonka” . I have been having a great time doing theatre ever since.

Do you take voice lessons and dance lessons?
I have been taking music/voice for a while although the teacher does not officially work on the mechanics of your voice until your voice has matured – usually age 12 or after. I love dance and would love to be able to take it more, but it tends to be the class that I have to drop when my schedule is too full. I took lessons for about 6 years and I got to work with the Minds in Motion group last spring. I have also started doing some ballet when time allows.

Tell me about your experience with CYT – what do you like the most?
I really like the way that CYT is one big family. Everyone is really supportive of everyone else which is great. The parent support is also really amazing. I love being in a CYT production – it’s a great experience. Everyone is amazing and I couldn’t ask for more 

It is pretty neat that you look like Annie and will be playing her, has this been a wish of yours?
Annie is definitely a dream role for me. People have been calling me Annie since I was very little and I used to love to sing “Tomorrow” to anyone who would listen. I am so glad I got to play it before I got too old!!

What is HYPE? Tell me about your experience with HYPE?

The goal of HYPE is to challenge and grow the advanced students of CYT to be leaders in and outside of CYT, and get involved by serving the community around them. To look at all aspects of theater, not just from the actor’s point of view. And to continue to grow as an individual, committing themselves to excellence in all they do.

Each September, HYPE welcomes new High School applicants (ages 14-18) for the current year. Students involved in HYPE will participate in on-going service projects like drama workshops with at-risk kids at Youth Life Foundation, international missions fundraising, CYT mentoring, and special events. HYPE will also promote spiritual growth in students at their meetings through devotions, prayer and worship. HYPE is an excellent way for students to learn to use their God-given gifts to serve the community inside and outside of CYT!

Some of the orphans, Miss Hannigan and I were excited to get the opportunity to go with HYPE to meet some of the children at Youth Life that they work with. We sang and taught them the dance to”Hard Knock Life”. It was really, really fun and the kids were hilarious.”

Read the article, published by Macaroni Kid, in its entirety here: Interview with CYT’s “Annie.”

CYT VanPort Presents The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a daring tale of adventure based on Rudyard Kipling’s exotic tale. The story follows a young boy named Mowgli who was raised in the jungles of India by a pack of wolves. There he learns the laws of the jungle from his good friends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther. Throughout his adventures, he meets characters of all shapes and sizes: Kaa the snake, King Louie the leader of the monkeys, Shere Khan the dangerous Bengal Tiger and, of course, the beautiful young girl from the village. Exciting songs, jungle rhythms and intriguing characters make the jungle come alive in a way like never before in this CYT musical adaptation.

Running time is 2 hours for public performances, 1 hour & 30 minutes for school day performances.

Performances at The Venetian Theater, 253 East Main Street, Hillsboro OR. November 18 – 20, 2011. Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Pre-sale Adult tickets are $12. Youth, Senior and Group tickets are $9. Tickets are $2 more at the door. Tickets on sale now online at www.cytvanport.org or by calling 360-750-8550.

School Day Performances are at 9:30 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. on Friday November 18th. Tickets are $6 each for groups of 10 – 99 and $5 each for groups of 100 or more. Call our office to arrange to bring your class or home school group!

Contact: Karyn Eremeyeff – k.eremeyeff@cytvanport.org.

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CYT Weekly Roundup: November 12th-18th

Welcome to the CYT Weekly Roundup.

Starting today (and every saturday from here on out) we will be posting a summary of blogs, photos, and news that you may have missed during the week. Enjoy your reading, and feel free to save some of these links to your Safari Reader or Instapaper!

Here’s the best of what happened in CYT-land this week:

We announced a film screening of “Mandie and the Forgotten Christmas” at the Red Door Theater in El Cajon. Check out the YouTube video here, and purchase your ticket today.

Karl Slover, one of the last original munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, passed away on Tuesday. Before he died, some CYT Kansas City students were lucky enough to receive a letter from him, wishing them luck for their production of The Wizard of Oz. Rest in Peace Karl Slover.

CYT Houston’s Tom Sawyer landed on the front page of the Montgomery County Newspaper, on November 16th!

CYT has a new Intern! Follow @CYTInternAshley on Twitter as she chronicles her 10-week Social Media/Writing Internship via tweets.

We asked you to share your favorite CYT t-shirt photo with us! Do you use @Instagram or other photo apps? Share your favorite #cyt shirt photo w/ the #CYTNational hashtag, or post it on Facebook.

CYT Riverside’s Willy Wonka closes on Saturday. Check out what Kerri Mabee (from the Southwest Riverside News Network) had to say about the amazing show.

Contributed by Ashley Jordan