Tuesday Crew Day – Meet your Improvathon Crew!

Crew Days are our favorite Tuesdays. This week, we’re introducing you to your Improvathon Crew!

Meet Hannah Taraschke from Fredericksburg, VA, and Gabe Bates from San Diego, CA! These two Crew interns are going to rock EXPO with Riley Taylor, our radical Improvathon Director (who is back for year two!). They’ve both been to plenty of EXPO’s, and it just so happens that their favorite EXPO memories are both from 2015! Read on to learn more about Hannah and Gabe.

How did you start with CYT, and how long have you been involved?

HannahI saw CYT’s production of Seussical when I was 12 years old and ever since that moment I have been hooked on CYT! I was a student for 6 years and I have been working for CYT as an improv coach, stage manager, and camp director ever since I graduated.


Gabe: I started CYT@school when I was 8, and did my first “big” CYT show when I was 11 and participated in 20 shows until I aged out.

Top two musicals of all time and why?

Hannah: I love Hairspray because of the fun dancing and Tracy is the most iconic character of all time! I also love You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown because the music is so beautiful and it’s just so sweet and funny.

Gabe: Number 2 – Heathers because it has great music, a great story, and discusses teenage issues such as peer pressure and mental health. Number 1 – Newsies because it is a story near and dear to me and it’s a show that let’s young men know that theatre isn’t just for girls.

What’s your favorite memory from a past EXPO?

Hannah: It’s almost impossible to pick just one, but one of the most beautiful moments for me was at the 2015 EXPO. I was a student and a member of my improv team got a call from his family saying that his grandma just passed away. We all prayed together and we were so shaken up. But we all worked together and decided to still go on stage to perform at the finale. And it was one of the most magical improv experiences I have ever had.

GabeIn 2015 I was in CYT Tour Company and we performed and later got a chance to meet other students from other affiliates.

What are you most excited about for this year’s EXPO?

Hannah: I can’t wait to affirm and love on the students just as the leaders and crew members did for me when I was a student! I’m also excited to see some fierce improv!!

GabeGetting to see other students from other states compete in improv and getting to meet other interns from other locations.

Those are our Crew Interns for the 2018 EXPO Improvathon. Check back every other week to meet more of our Crew, or read some of our past posts to get to know our Student and HYPE track crew! If you’re not registered for EXPO yet it’s not too late – get registered today!


Tuesday Crew Day – Meet your Student Track Crew!

It’s once again Tuesday Crew Day and this week we’re introducing our Crew for the CYT EXPO 2018 Student track!

This year we have two Crew Bosses on the Student Track. Meet Tyler Tafolla and Danny LaPointe! These guys are pros and have been involved with CYT San Diego for years, both on stage and behind the scenes. Tyler and Danny will be assisting this year’s Student Director, Kara List from CYT Fredericksburg! Read on to get to know your Crew Bosses!

What are some fun facts about you?

Tyler Tafolla

Tyler: I graduated college with my BFA in Musical Theatre last summer, I wrote a musical called “Scott Robbins and the Traveling Show”, and I worked as a performer at Sea World for the last 7 years. I met Larry the Cable Guy once at a party. He did the Mater voice for me. It was awesome. Also, I make really convincing dinosaur noises.

Danny LaPointe


DannyI love archery because it’s fun and it makes me feel powerful, my best friend is my 4 month old niece, and I’m American, Canadian, and I was born in South Africa.



What are your top two musicals and why?

Tyler: “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Little Shop of Horrors”. Drowsy was the first show I ever saw on Broadway. I was in 6th grade and couldn’t stop laughing. I’m a huge fan of puppetry and am a puppeteer myself. Watching the plant sing in Little Shop is always exciting for me.

DannyNewsies because my childhood was basically built watching Christian Bale dance to Seize the Day. And The Lion King because how could you not love grown adult men dressed as rhinos dancing down the aisles?


What is your favorite memory from a past EXPO?

Tyler: I have always been a fan of Improvathon! I use to compete in the San Diego teams and I just love watching improv. It is definitely a highlight of my summer.

DannyLast year, during the screening of Newsies a bunch of students stood at the back of the room and danced along with choreography they had learned in their own affiliates. It warmed my heart.

When you’re not at EXPO having the time of your life, what do you do?

TylerI’m a working actor living in Los Angeles. I am a writer and musician as well. You can find me playing in local coffee shops in North Hollywood. I just recently performed in a staged reading of the musical that I wrote and am currently working on producing a full production in Los Angeles by the end of this year!

Danny: Well, since I graduated from college last May, I’ve just been seizing opportunities where I feel I can help others and share God’s love, so this year I’ve been living in Indiana helping take care of my baby niece and I’m loving every second of it. Next year, I’m hoping to get a job at either Compassion International or Mount Hermon (a year round Christian camp) 🙂

What are you most excited about for this year’s EXPO?

Tyler: I love getting to know people from all different CYT affiliates. Making connections and growing the CYT Family is always the most rewarding part of Expo.

Danny: I am very excited for building the stage and set for expo on the first day, because that’s when I can bring my own tools and impress all of the cyt dads with the fact that I own my own drill and vaguely know about building things. That is the honest truth.  

There you have it, our Crew Bosses for the 2018 EXPO Student Track. Check back every other week to meet more of our Crew! If you’re not registered for EXPO yet it’s not too late – get registered today!



We Are CYT: Working Hard and Removing Limits

CYT isn’t just having an impact on students, but on the whole family! Sunday, November 5, CYT Fredericksburg mom Heather O. posted on her facebook how much hard work CYT can be, but how the end results are worth every moment. CYT Fredericksburg closed one of their fall shows, The Little Mermaid, that afternoon. Check out her story!

As we close The Little Mermaid (and look forward to Super Saturday for James and the Giant Peach), I’m sitting here relatively exhausted, eating dinner after bedtime, first I’ve really been still since before 9AM.

My feet are tired, but my heart is full. So for those of you closing a show, for those of you about to open, those of you “taking a (well-deserved) break,” and those of you just starting to consider this whole Theater Life Thing…

CYT requires hard work, mental and emotional effort, late nights and early mornings (sometimes back to back!), doing of homework in moving cars, emergency trips to walmart and CVS, sore muscles, stubbed toes, blisters, parent committees, crock pot dinners and fast food dinners, lots and LOTS of family teamwork AND committee teamwork, class fees, production fees, ticket block activation, bruised (no, let’s say, ‘adjusted’) egos, bruised elbows, learning new skill sets, carpools, trips to urgent care, and going outside of comfort zones! (And that’s just in the first two years!!)

But what CYT GIVES… CYT gives friendships forged in a common purpose, laughter, tears, triumphs, watching my introvert daughter SHINE on stage in the most hideous dress I could create, other people’s children who I now love as my own, a common ground for siblings no matter their age difference, role models in a wide variety of ages, watching my introvert husband make connections and even friends, finding purposes for odd combinations of God-given skills and talents, watching the work of God in the lives of the children youth and adults, hearing grade-school children lead an audience of strangers in prayer, watching a group of inexperienced strangers morph into a capable and unified team, watching my youngest walk into school still sporting yesterday’s stage makeup without a care about what others think of it, watching children grow into teens, watching ensemble members become featured dancers and leads, friends who know just when to walk behind you activating their fart noise app, seeing kids who are viewed as quirky in other places find this place where their “weird” is not only accepted but CELEBRATED, having at least 20 people a day ask how my ankle is doing, trusting the director to pull the best out of your child in an empowering and supportive way, having someone who knows you well enough to know when to tell you to shut up and walk away (you know who you are!), having friendships so strong that one of you can screw up (ahem, me!) and you both yell at each other and then when you’re done yelling you still love each other (you know who you are, too!), friends who see your untapped potential and challenge you to do something you’ve never done before. CYT gives confidence AND humility. It gives kids (and adults!) the chance to find their limits, and then remove them! And THAT’S just in the first two years…

Thank you, Heather, for sharing from your heart! CYT truly is a place where kids and adults can grow individually, build valuable relationships, find and then remove each of their limits them one by one, setting the bar higher each time.



In the Fredericksburg area? Check out their next show, James and the Giant Peach! They open Friday, November 17, and run for two weekends! Get your tickets today!

How has CYT affected YOUR life? Share your story with us!

My CYT Story: Shoot for the moon

The following story was submitted by Emily M. from CYT Fredericksburg for our 2017 My CYT Story Contest.

The story starts out like this, I’m sitting in row R, left section, we were seeing Fiddler on the Roof. I was with my mom, aunt, and grandmother. When the show started I was completely mesmerized. At intermission we looked around because I’d never seen a CYT show before but I’d taken a fall class earlier that year. I ran into kids from my class and my old teacher. Then at the end of intermission we returned to our seats and got ready for awesomeness that was act two. The second act was even better than the first and I whispered to my grandmother, “This is what I want to do,” and she told me to go for it. Flash forward a few years later, I auditioned for my first show, White Christmas. I didn’t do so hot on my audition but I made the show. The first show experience was like a baby taking it first steps, clueless yet amazed. Then tech week hit, I had heard the horror stories and was kinda nervous but it wasn’t horrible at all. After my first show I was filled with excitement and I was like “I’ve done a show, and it’s amazing”. I’m now in my second production and I couldn’t be happier. Even if you don’t get a lead role, the minor parts are just as cool. Finally, for all of you reading this and thinking about auditioning, just go for it and shoot for the moon for you’ll always land among the stars!

Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here! 

DISCLAIMER: Though all complete stories submitted will be judged by their affiliate as part of the 2017 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner. 

Theater is hard

Theater is hard. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of nerves, excitement, disappointment, joy, stress, and pride. There are highs and lows at each step of the way – from auditions to callbacks, the cast list coming out to the first rehearsal, and tech week through the final curtain call. Sometimes, you audition for a show and then have the privilege of being a part of the cast! But what happens when you nail your audition AND callback, and then are disappointed with your part, or don’t even see your name on the cast list?

Two moms from CYT Fredericksburg share what they’ve learned from watching their children go through the casting process and face disappointment. Stefanie, mother of five, wrote in the fall about two of her kids’ auditions with CYT Fredericksburg’s fall shows, “White Christmas” and “Junie B. Jones”, and Heather writes about her daughter’s audition for CYT Fredericksburg’s winter show, “Willy Wonka Jr.”. CYT really is building character one stage at a time, not only in our students, but in our parents as well!

Read through Stefanie’s and Heather’s beautifully worded stories in the links below!

The Overholtzer’s Lives: The Right Fit

Southern Mama Speaks: The Callback List

CYT Fredericksburg Hits a Home Run!

Hey guys, check this out! CYT Fredericksburg’s Marketing and Publicity Director Allison Mayberry shared this awesome news with us and we couldn’t keep it to ourselves!

fred 2

“CYT Fredericksburg, along with our Season Sponsor, SimVentions, brought over 300 people to the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball game 2 weeks ago and got to sing ‘God Bless America’ during the 7th inning. Not only was it a great night of fellowship, hot dogs, peanuts, fireworks and baseball, but CYT raised $1000.00 from selling the baseball tickets! WAY TO GO!” – Allison MayberryFredCongratulations, CYT Fred! Keep up the good work, we can’t wait to see what you do next!

Accepting the Unreal Reality

The following story was submitted by Kendra T. from CYT Fredericksburg. for our 2016 My CYT Story Contest.

Friends through all the moments!

Friends through all the moments!

Sometimes we are forced to accept the reality of life even when it’s something that we don’t want to accept. We can try hiding or ignoring the truth but even by doing that it doesn’t change it. When I first started CYT I had hopes of pursuing a career in singing and dancing. CYT was an opportunity to develop skills that would help me toward my career. While in CYT I had hoped to perform in lead roles with lots of dancing and singing, but within the past year I have come to no longer deny, but accept my reality of living with a chronic medical condition.

Kendra getting real!

Kendra getting real!

Living with CRPS makes it really hard to do anything without pain, especially dancing. Recently I have come to terms that dancing makes the pain unbearable and nearly impossible to continue dancing. This was something I tried to deny and not accept for a while. I’ve come to realize that for me that goal is not realistic and I believe God is calling me in another direction. I continue to enjoy being part of CYT both on and off the stage.



I have made many close friends that continue to love and support me through it all. I’m learning to be content with the truth and trust in Gods plan and unfailing love for me. Throughout my experience with CYT it has been a journey that has helped me discover myself and learn to be content with where I am and where God has me. I’m learning to trust in God and leaning on him for strength to continue on.

Kendra from CYT Fred.

Kendra from CYT Fred.

Being a part of CYT and HYPE has helped me learn how to love and glorify the Lord in the ways I can. No matter where we are in life, we should learn to be content because He has us there for a reason, even if it’s beyond our understanding! His plan for us is greater than anything we can imagine!

Do you have a CYT story to share? Submit it here!

*NOTE: DEADLINE for the 2016 My CYT Story Competition has passed. All submissions received after this point will be held for the 2017 My CYT Story Competition. 

DISCLAIMER: Though, all complete stories submitted will be forwarded to their respective area’s leadership for judging as part of the 2016 My CYT Story Competition, not all stories will be published on this blog. Likewise, having your story published on the blog does not guarantee that your story has been selected as a Regional Winner.