“Expo captures and magnifies the soul of CYT.” Interview with CYT and HYPE Alumnus, Jensen Kirkendall

Lydia Kinne, National HYPE Advisor, recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jensen Kirkendall, former CYT Santa Cruz student and originator of the now-popular phrase, “Awkwardly Closer than Family,” about his past experience with the CYT EXPO. Jensen has attended four EXPOs in all three capacities – as a HYPE student, an Improv student, and as a “general” student, and today he’ll be sharing with us some of the highlights of those experiences – especially as it relates to HYPE.

EXPO 2011

EXPO 2011 – Jensen is sitting on the wall, far right

Q: What is the best part of EXPO for you?

Jensen: My favorite part is being able to see how similar all the different CYTs are and being able to interact with everyone. There are always a few people that I really connect with in a very short time, and that would not happen at a typical conference. You take a regular conference with old people, and you throw in some teenagers; some acting, singing, and dancing; and some Jesus: that’s what EXPO is. There’s nothing like it.

EXPO 2012

EXPO 2012

Q: Why should a HYPE student come to the HYPE workshops at EXPO?

Jensen: HYPE students are a special part of CYT that I believe add an essential element. I have always said that it emphasizes the Christian in CYT. Building leadership qualities in high school Christian actors is a remarkable opportunity for making a difference in the world of the arts. EXPO gives a fantastic opportunity to gather like-minded people in order to compare methods, assess universal priorities, and better understand the leadership roles. It is both helpful for new HYPEs–giving definite direction and understanding of the mission– and for longstanding HYPEs–providing and receiving encouragement and guidance.


Q: What were some of your favorite moments from the 2015 EXPO?

Jensen: I technically wasn’t a part of a CYT Affiliate in 2015, so I was a little bit out of place in HYPE. However, despite this I greatly enjoyed my time and always felt welcomed by all. One of my favorite memories from the most recent EXPO was renting out a 4 person pedal cart and almost crashing it into a wall repeatedly. However, in the past EXPOs when I was a part of a CYT, my favorite memories have been the trust exercises and problem-solving activities that we have to do with people we just met and simply spending time with other groups informally and sharing laughs and life.

EXPO 2013

EXPO 2013



Q: What are some ways that students can grow in leadership at EXPO?

Jensen: CYTers are two-fold leaders. We see in our culture how heavily media and acting influences people. This, in itself, is a form of leadership. This defines leadership as having influence over someone’s thinking and potentially their behavior through telling a story about life. Then, add to this the Christian faith. Jesus shows leadership in the form of servanthood. We as Christians lead through serving. So, what does this have to do with EXPO? EXPO is a grand-scale integration of acting and faith that takes place in each CYT. It is about combining the art of portraying the human spirit (which is made in the image of God) with the practice of serving with the Holy Spirit. EXPO is a blown-up image of how this integration can take place in each CYT. This may not be what most people take from it, but as a HYPE student, it is there if one simply looks and listens.

EXPO 2015

EXPO 2015

Q: If a student was undecided about coming to EXPO, how would you convince him/her to come?

Jensen: If you are undecided about coming to EXPO, then I would ask you if you love CYT. If you answer yes, then you should definitely try and get to EXPO. EXPO captures and magnifies the soul of CYT. Simply observing all the kids and adults interacting shows this, oftentimes more than the actual activities (however these are essential and fun). If you love CYT, you will love EXPO.


Price goes up May 1st. Don’t miss out on the fun; register today HERE.

Thankful: CYT Alum, Kaitie’s Story

CYT North Idaho Alum, Kaitie Hunt, shared the following letter with us. Enjoy!

To the people who shaped my life:CYT North Idaho

These last two weeks have been odd for me. For the first time in more years than I care to count, I’ve missed a CYT North Idaho show. I can’t remember having not been present for a show since CYT North Idaho began its journey as a family.

Along with more than a little bit of sadness and a healthy dose of nostalgia, I’m filled with gratitude when I reflect on my years spent as a (CYT) student.

This gratitude is felt for every person who touched and altered my life during my most beautiful and precious years. There is not a lesson I learned at CYT that I don’t continue to carry with me and utilize on a sometimes hourly basis. My best qualities I owe to CYT and the family I was adopted into there.

Although I’ve chosen to pursue Chemistry – a far cry from the theater of my youth – not a day passes when I don’t silently thank CYT and praise God for placing such a wonderful organization in my life. Thanks to you, the beautiful humans who were willing to be the hands and feet of our creator and do High work in my life, I am confident, I am a cirtical thinker, and I know how to admit my mistakes and short-comings. These skills may not have made college and learning to “adult” a walk in the park, but they have certainly made is easier.

I’m sure there are ways of getting through life without confidence, but that’s a life I’m grateful not to lead. Because of CYT I have an ingrained confidence. Learning to sell raffle tickets and stand in fron of hundreds of people, even while wearing a ridiculous costume, taught me to be sure of myself. because of CYT I’m not afraid to approach professors with problems I’m having or raise my hand in a crowded lecture hall to ask or answer a question, even though I run the risk of sounding silly or illiterate. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and to show people my silly side and to admit when I don’t know how to do something. Thank you to every director who reminded me to cheat out, every parent volunteer who made me look good, every fellow cast and crew member who offered a prayer or a pat on the back when I needed encouragement, and every audience member that gave me a chance to entertain them.

CYT also taught me how to think and to think well. Through the Improvathon, mistakes happening onstage and crew catastrophes I learned not only how to solve problems, but how to do so quickly, calmly, and while maintaining my character and composure. Every time I make a mistake in a chemistry lab, attempt to solve a new Calculus problem, or have a quarrel with a roommate or dreaded group project team member, I am grateful to CYT. While it may be a while before I have the opportunity to spit out a witty joke in an improv scene or cover for someone’s forgotten line, the thought processes and mental acuity learned there have served me well. I offer my thanks to every teammate who ever set up the perfect one-liner for me to drive home, every cast member who missed their entrance, every set piece that ever broke and every costume that ever malfunctioned for teaching me patience, calmness, and mental dexterity in times of crisis.

Above all else, though, CYT had a knack for knocking me down just when I needed it most. In all of the directions and correction that I’ve received and the failures I’ve experienced, CYT has taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s even better to take and apply constructive criticism. To every director who told me “no,” every choreographer who fixed my footwork, every fellow HYPE member who held me accountable, every musical director who grimaced when I was flat, and every crew boss who ever shushed me backstage, you have my undying gratitude.

Indeed, the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in life, all the instruction God knew I needed, has been delivered via the tough love, the smiles, the high-fives, the warm embraces and the instruction of CYT. So to all of you, thank you for being my brothers, my sisters, my mentors, my coaches, my advice-givers and my closest confidants. Thank you for giving me such great laughter and such beautiful tears. Thank you for being my family, and for allowing me to be a part of yours. In your arms I was molded and crafted into the daughter of the King I am today. No individual or group has been more influential than you. You’ve shown me what’s important and what to laugh off; you’ve built my confidence, strengthened my thinking, and proven the value of taking instruction. You’ve changed my life. You, CYT family, are one of the greatest blessings I have ever received, and for that I am eternally thankful.

Sincerely and forever yours,

Thanks for the reflections, Kaitie! We’ll be praying for your continued successes! For more on CYT North Idaho, click here

Have your own CYT Story to share? Click here.

Who’s that? It’s a CYT Alum starring in a National Broadway Tour!

Thanks to Allison Mayberry, the Marketing and Publicity Director at CYT Fredericksburg, for this joyful letter! We love it when CYT sneaks up on itself!

Hello AMAZING CYT family,
I wanted to share with you blessing that CYT Fredericksburg came upon. This weekend, 50+ CYT families headed to Richmond, VA to see (the Broadway national tour of Disney’s) NewsiesEveryone came away from the show inspired and refreshed.

CYT Fred at Newsies

Many of the kids headed to the stage door and got to meet many of the cast members and get autographs and photos. We even got to sing with three of the Newsies! You would think meeting the Newsies could not be topped, but God continued to bless us. While speaking to one of the leads (Morgan Keenewho plays Katherine Plumber in Newsies) we found out that she was from CYT Spokane!!! Can you imagine the faces of our CYT kids? A CYT alumni is touring the country in Newsies???? They were thrilled.

Read all about it! CYT kid in National Broadway tour of Newsies!

Morgan spent a pretty long time with our CYT kids, answering questions, giving them tips and was above and beyond kind, sweet, and loving. She is the perfect example of what CYT produces. She inspired so many that day.

So,  THANK YOU ALL!!!!!! Thank you all for your hard work, dedication, long hours and patience with us all. Sometimes we get bogged down with all the paperwork and day-to-day tasks that it takes a blessing dropped in front of us to remind us of why we do what we do in the busy times. I can not thank you all enough. And of course, Sheryl and Paul…God bless you for dreaming this program up and NEVER giving up! I cry tears of joy quite often not just for this organization, but for my children who have grown up in this family and I can’t imagine life without CYT! My oldest ages out after our Winter show and the anxiety has already began.

I hope you all have an amazing day!

Thanks for the great story, Allison! Keep up the great work & continue to Seize the Day at CYT Fred!

For more info, check out:
Morgan’s website here.
CYT Fredericksburg here.
CYT Spokane here.
Newsies FB here.

An Open Letter to the Director Who Changed My Life

My name is Marisa Gomez from CYT San Diego, and this is my CYT Story.

Marisa Gomez. CYT Kid and Distinguished Young Woman.

Marisa Gomez. CYT Kid and Distinguished Young Woman.

Dear Janie,

It has been just over five years since I stood in front of you for the first time as I auditioned for Alice. I had little confidence, had little experience performing, and had little dreams for myself. Yet, you saw some sort of potential in me and I was cast. You gave me the first opportunity that I had ever had to push myself, to work hard, to become comfortable, to explore my capabilities. I fell in love with CYT immediately, but still was not 100% comfortable, no matter how nice everyone had been to me. It took me quite some time to realize that it was me who was the problem. I was holding myself backhand I hindered my own opportunities for growth.

I remember my mom walking me in on my first day of classes, making sure that I had people to talk to and introducing me to people despite my dismay. I remember as she watched my first audition and drove me up to Escondido during tech week and spent hours sewing costumes. This was less than five months before she passed. My mom allowed me to do CYT and encouraged my dad to allow me to continue my involvement, even though it would be tough on his lifestyle as a single parent. She knew that this is where I would grow the most, she knew that this was what I needed during that time, and she knew that performing would be the place where I would feel most myself after I got over my own insecurities. So she gave of herself in order for me to do what I love. She passed the summer between Alice and Tall Tales.

CYT has been an integral part of my life, but I would not have learned as much in CYT if it had not been for you. You were my first and second director and you gave me a chance despite my horrible auditions and lack of dancing and acting abilities. All I needed was that chance. You gave me callbacks for roles that challenged to learn quickly. You taught me how to tap dance which led to more open doors during auditions and you made my first experience in CYT feel like home. Because of you, I was determined to get better.

CYT San Diego's, Marisa.

Marisa as Maria in CYT San Diego’s Sound of Music.

Then you gave me my favorite onstage experience of playing Maria (Sound of Music). That changed everything for me. I worked so hard leading up to auditions and all throughout rehearsal and the show and it finally felt like I had done something right. Yes, I do wish I could play it again and do it better one day, but 17 year oldie will have to suffice for now. I have so much love for that show for so many reasons. I was challenged and played an incredible, complex woman, who also happened to have the same name as my mom. I bonded with my onstage family and I still see all of my “kids” when I can.

I used songs from the Sound of Music for my talent for Distinguished Young Women and CYT lent me the costume that I used for both the state and national competitions. I had no problem competing on stage because I was used to being in shows. I could speak in front of a crowd and I did well in my interviews because I was finally comfortable with who I was.

I took a break from CYT during my DYW of CA year and while I missed it terribly, everyone still made me feel included and when I returned to Peter Pan, it was like no time had passed.

This brings me to my very last CYT show, Peter Pan. I went into auditions thinking I wanted Wendy because she got to fly, and also, no one was going to see me as any part other than Wendy or Mrs. Darling. Well, I wasn’t very good at being Wendy because I typically play older, not younger, and I quickly learned that it was not the part for me at callbacks. So then I was called back for Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling and Tiger Lily. Well, I honestly started laughing when I was called back for Peter because I didn’t think anyone would EVER see me as someone who could play a boy, because I typically play very girly roles. But somehow, I made it to the end of the Peter callbacks with Courtney and Nick and I left having no idea what role I was.

I was also called back for Tiger Lily which was honestly even more surprising because she is a dancer and I am not. I could have seen myself getting Hook before Tiger Lily. Yes, it was that foreign of an idea to me. I did the indian dance callback and then read for Tiger Lily and I was pretty sure they had me in the callback just because I’m tan or they needed more people to call back for it. I did my Mrs. Darling callback and I was afraid of being typecast as the mom again, but it’s a lovely role and I was still okay with being cast as that.

Marisa as Tiger Lily

Marisa as Tiger Lily

Then the cast list came up and I may or may not have had a mini panic attack. There was no way I could be Tiger Lily! I was going to stink. There was no way. This was a mistake. And then I got really excited because this was an opportunity to push myself. I refused to be bad and so I worked harder than I’ve ever worked for a role. I rearranged my sister’s room while she was away at college so that I could have a dance studio because she had closet doors that were big mirrors. I practiced every day for at least 2 hours and carefully thought through each movement. I had so much fun onstage every night I did it. I played a role that I never saw as an option for myself and I finally realized that I have the capacity to do anything. This is all because you gave me a shot 6 years ago. And then to top it all off, you said the kindest words about me before naming me the CYT San Diego 2015 MVP at the Director’s Choice Awards. I never thought that this award would go to me. It was such an honor to be awarded with this and I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

Thank you for constantly believing in me, challenging me, and supporting me. Than you for changing my life and for allowing me to become so much more than I used to be. I will always treasure my time with CYT and the friends and family that I’ve made through this organization. You are changing lives. So once again, thank you.


Marisa Gomez

Do you have a CYT Story you’d like to share? Submit it!

CYT Alumnus Owen Spruill: An American in Paris

Thank you to Vittoria Allen of CYT San Diego for contributing the following story & interview.

As CYT approaches it’s 35th Anniversary, I have spent countless hours going through old photos and videos, collecting pieces of our history that have woven together a beautiful story of friendship and family through the arts. It is so fun to see all these great #tbt photos, but also encouraging and inspiring to see so many CYT Alumni that have gone on to do incredible things in the world of theater arts.

One of my personal friends, Owen Spruill, has been basically living the dream in Paris. (Ok, I’m a little bias, but I can’t be the only one who would drop everything to live abroad!) If you have been following the Tony Nominations for 2015, you may have noticed a new show, An American in Paris, making headlines with 12 nominations! Owen has been working on An American in Paris IN PARIS! I thought this would be a great opportunity to take the CYT nation on a dive into his world and celebrate how one of our own is making waves in the theater industry.

Owen, what is your current job title and what are your responsibilities?
I work at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France. My job title is English Press and Communications.

The Théâtre du Châtelet  (in Paris), where An American in Paris originated.

The Théâtre du Châtelet (in Paris), where An American in Paris originated.

The work I do here is to focus on building a stronger brand for the theatre in the English media outlets – The New York Times, The Guardian, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, etc. I pitch stories about specific musicals we do here, artists we are working with or the theatre in general to the journalists and we work on finding a story that sees fit. I then set up interviews, and deliver photography or media that can be used for the news piece.

Other work I do is developing social media content for the theatre and the musicals we do here. I also reach out to potential corporate partners to find a good way they can be incorporated in the work we do at the theatre; for example partnerships with Uber, Google or Twitter.

How did you get this job? / What inspired you to move to Paris?
This was actually a funny story. I had read about the Châtelet in the past. I have always loved Paris. I studied abroad here in 2009 and wanted to live and work here longer. I was ready for a change from NYC and reached out to them, via Facebook! I was lucky enough to get a response. They saw on my resume that I had worked with the American press representatives in the past and since they were going to premiere An American in Paris [on Broadway] (this past fall), a few phone calls later, and voilà, I’ve been working here since last spring!

Owen 2

Promo for An American in Paris.

What was your job while living in New York?

I studied Producing and Management at Marymount Manhattan, along with Communications and French as my minor. I want to produce and work in the development for the arts. Towards the end of college, I worked with Broadway producers and in press offices. I chose to work in a press office because they had the opportunity to work with many different clients. Those clients are the ones that produce Broadway. Since graduating, I have worked many jobs. I researched and developed social media for specific Broadway shows, I negotiated contracts for touring venues to sell merchandise, I worked at Disney Theatricals in their press office and, most recently, was an assistant to a Broadway producer.

What is the biggest different from working in the theater industry in NY vs. Paris?

A journalist I know wrote a great article that talks about the Parisian and NYC theatre. It is a very in-depth analysis on the theatre industry in both cities.

Regarding musicals in France, it is difficult to say. There are tons of shows that come through Paris – Cats, Beauty and the Beast, Flashdance… But these shows are experienced differently than the way we experience a Broadway musical. They are cute and fun, but there isn’t a strong impact on the audiences here.

Working at a historical music house at the Théâtre du Châtelet, where they present everything that surrounds music – dance, opera, concerts, musical theatre, etc., the American musicals are respected a bit more. Instead of having a 15 to 19-piece orchestra, there is a 25 to 30-piece orchestra, for example. The idea came in 2006 when our Executive Director came and introduced classic American musicals to be treated as operas – Big and lavish, like they originally were during the Golden Age of Musicals. Possibly the way Gershwin would want them to sound! Since then, they have presented multiple Sondheim, Gershwin, Bernstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals, and many more! These aren’t new names to the French, except Sondheim, but they weren’t familiar with their musical theatre works. Presenting these amazing shows in a grandiose way has really helped the French appreciate the history and passion that we have for musicals in America.

What has been your favorite part about working abroad?

I think one my favorite things to do during the workweek is get out of my office every day for about an hour to an hour and a half and just relax. It’s the culture here to close up shop and get out of the office for an hour or so every day. I like to get a sandwich and go sit and read in a park or by the Seine. I have time to go to a museum or go to my neighborhood to have lunch with a friend. It is nice and keeps you calm, but energized to finish the rest of the day at work!

Besides that, I love being in the city with so many great things: so many museums, concerts, parks, restaurants…I absolutely love the food. I go to the farmers market every Saturday and pick up fresh fruit and vegetables, local meats and cheeses. drink amazing wine and of course, THE BREAD! It’s too good to pass up. It’s too hard to not pass up a warm croissant or pain au chocolat every morning on the way to work.

What would you say is the greatest thing you have learned since working / living abroad?

When I lived in NYC, after graduating college, I thought I had to focus focus focus on “making it,” getting “that” job or that position to truly feel that I have accomplished all the hard work I put in. Don’t get me wrong, I am still focused on doing what I am passionate about, but over time, when all you have is work and career on your mind, you forget about what else goes on in life. The French do it right, though some/many Americans might not think so. I work normal work hours, 10AM-7PM, I have my weekends off and I go out of town for the holiday weekends. What I appreciate most, and what I have finally come to realize, is that you must take time for yourself. I have changed the way I utilize my day. I work hard during my workweek, but I also take time for myself and take advantage of the experiences I am having.

At work, I have grown to appreciate the artists who were a part of the creation of what American Musicals are today. When you sit back and listen an 18-minute symphonic poem by Gershwin, you find true appreciation for what the artists of our country have done; what they have created for the basis of musical theatre. During my personal time it’s that mixture of being in a country that appreciates the arts, culture, food, good conversation and much more.

Explain what it was like bringing An American to Paris to Broadway!

I have had the coolest year of not only moving to Paris, but also continuing to work on a Broadway show, IN Paris! An American in Paris made its world premiere at the Théâtre du Châtelet this past November. It was the first time a show was premiered outside of the States or in England before going to Broadway. I am not sure if it was the opportunity to work with old colleagues on a show in Paris, the sense of family everyone created or the show itself. It was probably all of it. I feel so completely blessed to be able to work on it. An American in Paris is a new musical that has been adapted from the movie starring Gene Kelly. It also features the music of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, and is directed by one of the kings of the ballet world, Christopher Wheeldon. He is a genius! The show has all the formality of a classic American musical, but what makes it so special and contemporary, to me, is the way Christopher Wheeldon incorporates his beautiful choreography into this show. You leave the show in love with choreography that truly tells the story along with the Gershwin classics leading the way. Along with that, you have the incredible the sets, costumes, lights, an amazing ensemble with two leading actors/dancers (also from the dancing world) that really inspires you. It made me realize why I love working in this industry so much.

Owen on the stage of the Palace Theatre in NY where An American In Paris is playing.

Owen on the stage of the Palace Theatre in NY where An American In Paris is playing.

When the show opened on Broadway in April, I had such an “aha” moment. American in Paris is playing at the Palace Theatre, the same theatre I saw my first show on Broadway, Aida. It was a very special night. Now, the show is nominated for 12 Tony Awards. Only one other Broadway show is competing with that many nominations this year. Fingers crossed.

Who is your favorite person you’ve been able to “rub elbows” with? Name drop!

Ha. I got coffee for Susan Sarandon once!

But working in the theatre in NYC and it being such a small industry, you make friends from all over the place. I think my favorite person to “rub elbows” with was probably in 2010 when Eddie Redmayne won the Tony Award for Red. I picked him up after his acceptance speech with a colleague and we drove over to the pressroom (it was in a completely different building from Radio City Music Hall). He was in complete shock that he just won his award and didn’t know what to do. So, of course, we blasted rap in the car ride over.

I guess a more simple one would be Daniel Radcliff accidently stepping on my foot, while walking down the red carpet at The Tony Awards, and then pulling me aside 15 minutes later to apologize. We hugged it out.

How has CYT played a role in your current career?

CYT is probably the sole reason I have pursued a career in the arts. I have always had a hard time finding the “right place” for me, hence the need to go to Paris! It was CYT that helped change that. CYT was the reason I continued to do theatre when I moved to Virginia, which led me to NYC. I know that my roots are in CYT and without it, I couldn’t name one other career I could be doing right now.

Ok, maybe I would be a chef. I love food and I love to cook. I still may go to culinary school one day. Why not!?

What’s your favorite CYT memory?

I think my favorite CYT memory was my final year in CYT. I moved to Virginia in 2004 with my family where I finished my last two years of high school. In my last year of CYT, I traveled San Diego to do the shows I wanted to be a part of; The Little Mermaid in NCI, Pocahontas in SC and Aladdin in SDC – My home area. That was also the year I won the screwball award for every show! It was the year I made my some of my best friends. Jason Russell led a boy’s bible study. There was so many of us hanging out almost every day, goofing off, figuring out how to grow up during a time with so many changes. Trust me, it was very hard to have to let it all go and move to the opposite side of the country. But I have this group of friends I know will be a part of my life no matter where we go or what we do. I think, like any person in CYT, our favorite memories are the ones we have had with our family and friends.

What piece of advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in the same field?

If you are either aspiring to be on stage or in the background of it all, then do it. Don’t think that because Broadway puts a standard of work out there, it doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for you. Even go beyond the Great White Way. Personally, I know that Broadway will ALWAYS be there. There will always be something for me to do there. As I have recently decided to make a change and dive into another culture to see the way they appreciate the arts. It has been one of the best and coolest decisions I have made in my career, and life! It’s the most fascinating thing to see how dance, opera, symphonies, museums and so much more all contribute to our society in such powerful ways. Learn your field (front and back) and then go get it. It’s there for you.

You can catch a preview of An American in Paris here.

We are so proud of you Owen!

CYT Alumni Spotlight: Jenn Lindsay

With shows, rehearsals, classes, Improv trips, etc. it often seems we don’t go more than a few hours without seeing our CYT family. However, eventually, those familiar theatre faces graduate and move on to the rest of their lives. We always hope & pray that they take the lessons & spirit from their time at CYT with them into the world. Recently, we checked in with CYT San Diego (East County) Alum, Jenn Lindsay, to see what she’s been up to. Please enjoy her most recent bio:

CYT Alum, Jenn Lindsay (CYT Student: 1985-1990)

CYT Alum, Jenn Lindsay (CYT Student: 1985-1990)

Jenn Lindsay is an American anthropologist of religion, documentary filmmaker, journalist, and anti-folk singer/songwriter currently based in Rome, Italy. Her music blends elements of folk music, indie rock, and protest songs. She is the founder of No Evil Star Records, an independent social action record label, and through it she has released ten studio albums. She produced 6 documentary films and screened them at various international conferences and festivals. She has a bachelor’s degree in playwriting from Stanford University and attended the arts management graduate program at Yale School of Drama. She attended the acting program at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in 2000. She studied Interfaith Relations and Ecumenics at Union Theological Seminary of Columbia University in New York City, graduating with a Master of Divinity in 2011. She is presently a PhD candidate at Boston University in the Gradate Division of Religious Studies.

Regarding her time with CYT, Jenn says:

I’m sure that my participation in CYT planted many seeds that have continued to feed my professional momentum–the joy of art and theater, the drive to contribute to a community effort with my utmost efforts and cheer, and comfort in front of audiences of any size. CYT participation honed my energies and helped me learn about discipline and friendship.

Thanks for the update, Jenn! No doubt your star will continue to rise & brightly shine!

Heads up, CYT Alums! CYT will be introducing The National Alumni Association at our upcoming EXPO in San Diego as we celebrate 35 years of CYT history! Please, contact Sheryl Russell at srussell@cyt.org if you want to be a part of the national committee.

CYT Alum, Daniel Kendrick, at the 2015 Golden Globes


At CYT, nobody celebrates the success & talents of our kids like their own parents. They pack the audience, wrangle backstage, chauffeur to rehearsals, & applaud like crazy when it’s all said & done. Turns out, just because our kids grow up & graduate from CYT, that doesn’t mean their parents stop applauding…or that we stop celebrating!

Recently, one such CYT parent, Kathy Kendrick, mentioned that her son, Daniel, was working in LA & Brazil and recently attended the 2015 Golden Globes! Say what?! We instantly reached out to Daniel to see if he’d be willing to let us feature him in an upcoming CYT blog post & he joyfully replied, “Thank you for reaching out! I would LOVE to be featured.” Turns out, not only is Daniel an exuberant & talented CYT alum, he’s also quite a funny guy! Enjoy out our Q&A with Daniel Stellan Kendrick (psst, he captioned the photos, too):

What was your involvement with CYT? 

I was in CYT from my first Our Gang Class in 1995 until my last show, (CYT San Diego) Central’s OLIVER! in 2008. I went to camp twice, competed in Improvathon once, and ate many a Denny’s meal with CYT. It was my main scene growing up, and I met many lifelong friends during my years at CYT. In the end, I think I was in 15 shows.

Daniel Kendrick & Becca Downing as Mr. & Mrs. Sowerberry in CYT San Diego, Central's Oliver! (Winter, 2008)

Daniel Kendrick & Becca Downing as Mr. & Mrs. Sowerberry in CYT San Diego, Central’s Oliver! (Winter, 2008)

Which CYT affiliate/area did you perform or work with?

SOCO (CYT San Diego, South County) was my home base. I did most of my shows there, starting with THE HOBBIT in 2003. I also dabbled in (CYT San Diego) East County and (CYT San Diego) Central, and made some awesome friends in those areas too!

the poster for South County's CALIFORNIA GOLD ( Spring, 2005). Also featured ( clockwise from top left) are  Mallory Johnson, Tiffanie Tellez, Tyler Payton, and Michael Covington

The promo poster for CYT San Diego, South County’s California Gold (Spring, 2005). Also featured (clockwise from top left) are Mallory Johnson, Tiffanie Tellez, Tyler Payton, and Michael Covington

Please, tell us about what you’re doing in LA?

I’m a literary manager at Chatrone LLC, a production company for Film & TV. A literary manager is very similar to a talent agent, but we get to wear jeans. I represent writers, directors, and artists in the animation industry. Some of my clients have worked on Spongebob, Robot Chicken, and Futurama. It’s tons of fun!!

(Click here to check out Daniel’s webinar, which he hosted, titled, “Writing for Animation; What ACME Doesn’t Tell You…”.)

Your proud mama tells us that you were involved with the Golden Globe nominated animated feature film, The Book of Life. What was your involvement?

Chatrone LLC produced The Book of Life, along with Guilermo Del Toro and Reel FX. When I first came to Chatrone, I was an executive assistant to the producers on the film. It’s a really incredible experience to see a film go through the phases of production all the way into theaters!

We also hear that you actually got to attend the Golden Globes! That must have been awesome! What was it like?

It was AMAZING! My amazing boss, Carina, took me as her guest since The Book of Life was nominated. To sit there in the audience among other executives from all over town, rooting for a film I was involved with, was a lifelong goal realized. It was surreal and awe inspiring; not to mention a total blast and a good reason to put on a tuxedo!!

Any good stories from the Globes you’d like to share with us?

The hor’s deurves were delicious, the women beautiful, and the celebrities clumsy.  Particularly, the persimmon salad was delish. I recommend it.

What about the after-parties?

Okay, okay… this time, I got one for ya! So I was at the Warner Bros after party — just standing there — talking to my bosses and some D-list celebrity or something. And I feel a hand grasp my left elbow. I turn to face the culpit. And — woe-is-me— I find myself gazing into the blazing blue eyes of a nightmare dressed like a daydream. Taylor Swift. Making eye contact with me. ME! And Lorde is standing right behind her. We gaze deeply into each other’s eyes; our souls intertwine for a brief second. She parts her sweet, scarlet lips, and she says, “Excuse me, we’re trying to get to my friend.” She then shoves me out of the way and keeps talking to Lorde. It was a brief interlude in my career, but I like to think that in that singular moment, we lived a thousand lifetimes of love and passion.

Indeed, you did! Now, please tell us about Gaby Estrella, the show you are working on in Brazil. 

Gaby Estrella is a Brazilian Telenovela that my boss, Carina Schulze created. It’s a fun little musical show about a girl from Rio who moves to the country and rediscovers her heritage and musical roots. It’s a total hoot, and a huge hit in Brazil. Hasn’t really made it’s way stateside yet, but the soundtrack is on itunes! It’s been nominated for an Emmy too! We find out next week about that one!

And, how did you wind up working in Brazil?!

I ended up working in Brazil with Chatrone mostly through UCLA. When I was a senior at UCLA, I thought to myself, “Gee, I ought to get ready to graduate and find a job.” So I put on some pants, went outside, and found an internship listing at Chatrone. I worked there for about three months, and then ended up at ICM, a major talent agency in Century City. After 6 months at ICM, I graduated, began to search for a job, and landed an executive assistant position at Chatrone! It’s been a lot of fun since. I’ve learned Portuguese, traveled to Rio & Sao Paulo, and immersed myself in Brazilian culture!

Daniel as Will Scarlet in SOCO's Robin Hood (Spring, 2004). CYT makes it easy to meet groupies.

Daniel as Will Scarlet in SOCO’s Robin Hood (Spring, 2004). “CYT makes it easy to meet (devoted fans).”

Many of our CYT kids would like to work in LA. What advice to you have for them about bridging that gap?

For myself, I think that attending UCLA really helped smooth that transition. When you move to a new city, everything is scary. All of your friends are back home, it’s all unfamiliar, etc. But going to college in the city in which you would like to work, allows you to integrate into a social system that facilitates friends and a social network. So I would say go to college or school here.

Another tip is that internships are the gateway into the industry. Do an internship for 3 months in 3 different companies, kick butt for them, and impress them. You’d be surprised how much people like helping young up-and-comers out. Everyone works for free for a while to get their foot in the door, so be prepared for that.

Daniel as The Mad Hatter in central's ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Fall, 2007).

Daniel as The Mad Hatter in CYT San Diego Central’s Alice in Wonderland  (Fall, 2007).

Was there something in particular about your CYT experience that has helped you in your current career?

CYT was an invaluable training tool for me growing up. I attribute almost all of my creative pedigree to CYT. The amazing people in CYT taught me creative taste, confidence, and salesmanship. I would not be where I am or who I am without CYT.

 me at teen camp 2008 lookin' fly.

“Me at teen camp, 2008, lookin’ fly.”

In your opinion, what makes CYT unique?

What makes CYT unique is that it is they are the largest Children’s theater company in the world, and in my opinion, the best. When you have such a large pool of talent from all over the world coming together to create and perform amazing shows, the enhance each other and strengthen one another’s talents. CYT trains successful entertainers, and people know that.

My mother's collected assortment of statuettes from my illustrious CYT career.

“My mother’s collected assortment of statuettes from my illustrious CYT career.”

What is your favorite CYT memory?

OH MAN. I don’t think I could pick just one. Hm… alas! There were so many fun nights that I recall so fondly. Some of my favorite shows: The Hobbit, The Jungle Book (in South County), Oliver!, Once Upon a Mattress, and so many more! Some great experiences at camp too. I was also a fan of the skit game at camp.

Though most of my favorite memories ended up with me getting into trouble, so I probably should not go into those details. Haha.

Thanks, for the info & laughs Daniel! We think you’re golden.