Show Review: CYT West Palm Beach’s Oliver Cast ‘Loud and Strong’

A couple weeks ago, posted a show review of CYT West Palm Beach’s Fall production of “Oliver.”

Here is a selection from the review:

“In November, I had the opportunity to see a children’s production of Oliver put on by Christian Youth Theatre of West Palm Beach. For those of you that may not be familiar with the story of Oliver, here’s a quick and dirty summary: Oliver is a young lad of 8 or 9 years who lives in an orphanage with other children around his age. After being mistreated and abused, he runs away from the home and makes his way to London. There he meets the Artful Dodger, Fagin, and his gang of pickpockets. Of course, Oliver gets caught, intrigue and hilarity ensue, and eventually Oliver is reunited with his mother’s sister to live in the lap of luxury and become a proper English gentleman.

The CYT production stuck very close to the story, except that instead of Oliver being played by an English lad of 8 or 9 years, Oliver was played by Indian lass of 8 or 9 years. She was fantastic.

As the lights dimmed and the overture began, I looked around and realized that these kids were performing to a packed house. When the lights went up and the music stopped, I expected to hear stuttering and stammering, the usual opening night jitters. My expectations were dashed because their voices came out loud and strong.

During the intermission, I spoke with the director, Rachel Sharpe, who told me that the kids had rehearsed for nine weeks straight, and out of a cast of 41, maybe 10 kids had been in other shows. She was amazed at the transformation so many of the kids had made in such a short time. In nine weeks they learned lines, lyrics, and choreography. They stayed up late and gave up soccer practice to paint scenery. It’s true that not all of them will be the next Idina Menzel or Joel Grey, but for that short span of time they had joy. And coming close after talent, joy is the second thing you need to succeed in theatre.”

For the latest information on CYT West Palm Beach, check out their Facebook Page.

Richmond Unite Awards CYT Richmond $5700!

The results are in!

Richmond Unite, whose mission is to unite the people and businesses of RVA to uplift our vulnerable youth while highlighting the talent of Richmond, awarded CYT $5700 weeks ago!

This past September, CYT Richmond participated in a voting contest through Richmond Unite and won 3rd place overall. The contest was an initiative to raise funds for local non-profits and CYT Richmond was thrilled to place in the top 3 and to receive this generous financial gift.

A huge thank you to all of our families, students and patrons who voted every day for CYT Richmond! As a non-profit, we rely on outside donations to continue growing our organization and it’s reach, and this end-of-the-year gift is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Contributed by Brooke Abrahamsen

CYT Weekly Roundup: Christmas Style

CYT wishes you a Merry Christmas!!

Here’s what people have been saying about CYT this Christmas season (along with some CYT holiday events and news that you may have missed):

 CYT Lafayette kids singing at First National Bank’s Jingle Bell Jubilee

“This season, we’re thankful for the birth of our Savior, our parents, students, staff, teachers, directors, the ability to be creative and to have CYT! Merry Christmas to all our CYT family- we love you guys!” – CYT Chicago

In response to CYT Fredericksburg’s Christmas Caroler’s, “What a treat!! You are amazing. Hearing you sing made me cry…in a good way! Thank you for such a wonderful gift!” – Marilyn Scott

“Just got back from seeing a stellar theatrical performance by CYT [Kansas City]! What a great addition to the Christmas season! – Cameron Aly

“Bravo!!!!! To the cast of [CYT Kansas City’s] Christmas Carol, you all did an AMAZING job!!!!!! – Amy Mueller Ebert

Check out the video of CYT Chicago at the Barlowgirl Christmas Concert 2012, on Facebook.

CDA Press Extra Interviews CYT North Idaho’s Bliss Lanier

Not too long ago, the Coeur d’Alene Press Extra newspaper interviewed CYT North Idaho’s Executive Director, Bliss Lanier.

The article (which appeared on the front page of the Lifestyles section) mentioned Lanier’s past, “Lanier became acquainted with [CYT] when she lived in San Diego in the 1980s. Her daughter, Kasey, sought a part in the musical, [Annie]…. [Four years after] moving to Spokane in 1994, Lanier helped form CYT Spokane….She wasn’t done spreading the good news of CYT to the region. It would take nearly ten years [to] start CYT [NI] in 2007.”

Notably, Lanier told the paper, “I know that CYT has affected hundreds of lives and families. For me, that’s it.”

Here are some excerpts from her interview with Staff Writer, Bill Buley:

How competitive is it for parts? How do decide who gets a role?
The truth is, theater is not fair. Sports depends on your skill level, but theater not only depends on your skills, but what you look like. If you’ve got a 5 foot 5 Annie you want to use, but the tallest boy you’ve got for Daddy Warbucks is 5 foot 2, it just won’t work.

So your physicality plays into theater, which isn’t fair. What I love about CYT, is that [when] a child comes into audition, the artistic team looks at them with fresh eyes. What they’ve done in the past, good or bad, doesn’t matter. I don’t think any theater has a more fair way of casting than CYT.

Is CYT about more than kids learning to act?
For me, I see it as a ministry. The couple that started CYT in San Diego over 30 years ago, wanted people to know that if you came to see a show, it would be wholesome and family oriented. I feel that the Lord uses CYT to bring families together to work together on a common goal and that’s another key component.

What’s your theater background?
I’m one of those people who did theater in high school. I just happened to have a daughter who wanted to do theater. I enjoyed being one of those parents on the committee when we lived in San Diego. I saw what it did for [my daughter] Kasey and other kids. They make lifelong friends, and because CYT has been around for 30 years, they have received multitudes of letters from kids who have gone on to become professionals in all kinds of areas. They say ‘[CYT] helped me overcome my shyness,’ or ‘It helped me deal with disappointment when I wasn’t cast.’ So it teaches a lot of life lessons.

What’s one thing you want the community to know about CYT North Idaho?
I would want them to know CYT is for anyone and everyone. You don’t have to have any experience to participate. You just have to come….CYT is an incredibly nurturing, family-focused organization, and I think the world needs that right now.

CYT VanPort: “You’re Worth It”

As the Costume Laundering Parent Committee was working to clean up and restock after our recent production of “Disney’s My Son Pinocchio,” one of the parents discovered writing on the inside of a bonnet.

The bonnet was simple. It had been used for years in our VanPort costume inventory. There’s no way to trace it back to the show of origin or the seamstress that carefully made it. But, the writing was a curiosity to the cleaning parent so they looked closer. Written in neat printing on an inside seam were the words “You’re worth it!” along with a Scripture reference.

I was so moved to know the extent of care that our costume moms/dads invest in their task. They personally consider each child that will wear a garment, not just for that show but for future shows. They breathe life into each piece and pray over the students as they nimbly work into all hours of the night. They know that each student has value, that “no role is a small role,” that each actor to wear their hand-crafted garment will represent the powerful message and joy of CYT to all who are lucky enough to have a ticket to the show.

This message isn’t just ascribed to the wearer of this particular bonnet, but it’s also a reminder from the Lord to all…”You’re worth it!” You make an impact. Your presence is noted. You contribute to the whole. You are special in the path that you take. Only you can do what you do.

Thank you to that dear costume parent for not only the care they took in making that bonnet all those years ago, but also for imparting God’s Truth and proclaiming His worth to all that wear it and all who hear of it.

Contributed by Kristi Foster, CYT VanPort Artistic Director.

CYT North Idaho HYPE Students Raise $500 for Orphanage in Guatemala

This past CYT session, CYT North Idaho’s HYPE decided to adopt a charity for the year. The organization that we chose was El Amor de Patricia, an orphanage in Guatemala.

El Amor de Patricia is a non-profit orphanage which takes in children from infancy to about six years old. Due to issues between governments, adoptions from Guatemala have been completely closed down. This leaves many young children left on the streets with no one to care for them. It is El Amor de Patricia’s mission to keep as many of these children safe and healthy as they can accommodate, while providing them with the love, care, and education they need for a healthy life.

HYPE’s goal to help was to raise both money and awareness. Through the process of selling raffle baskets at shows, HYPE managed to raise $500 dollars for El Amor, and even more awareness.

To find out more about El Amor de Patricia, visit

Contributed by Cassie Soumas