Spotlight on CYT North Idaho student Kalla Mort

Sigh. I just love CYT students. I recently got a chance to speak with CYT North Idaho student Kalla Mort and she’s a gem of a human. In the below interview, we discuss her various roles, her favorite CYT moments, and what she’s up to now. Enjoy!

How did you first get involved with CYT?
A family friend of mine invited me to come see her in Snow White. And after, that I auditioned for Jungle Book and was hooked from the start!

As you know, CYT is one huge pseudo-family that loves to spread the love to actual family members. Are your siblings or parents involved? 
I have three siblings – two older sisters and a younger brother. My older sister Kelsea was only able to do a few shows before graduating, and my brother Bryson only did one show. My mom always loves being a part of the Make-Up Committee. She loves being around all of the CYTers and being able to connect with them on their level!

Kalla at her sister Kelsea's wedding!

Kalla at her sister Kelsea’s wedding!

What has surprised you the most about the world of theater?
Probably the instant familial bond you have with your fellow actors. Even outside of CYT, the family aspect is there. I never realized you could find a group of “misfits” and imperfect people who still love and support each other like a family would.

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Save the date for CYT EXPO 2015!

CYT Santa Cruz student Tisha Hulter made this video about her experience at CYT EXPO 2014. We’re going to go ahead and use this as a Save the Date reminder for the next EXPO: June 22-24, 2015. Mark your calendars!

This video can also be found on YouTube HERE.

HYPE students are taking action this fall!

There are a million reasons to love HYPE. They’re CYT teens from around the country who are dedicated to pursuing excellence by taking on leadership roles and getting involved in the community around them. And now, their HYPE passion is about to explode all over the country this fall! Which give us all the more reason to love them to bits.

HYPE students from CYT Spokane

HYPE students from CYT Spokane

Following the 2014 CYT EXPO, the HYPE students have been proactive by following up with the ideas that they discussed in July. Students have been creating collaborative groups on Facebook for their different jobs, and have been sharing ideas with one another about what they are doing in their HYPE groups. They have been sharing pictures of their retreats and fall kick-offs, and have shown an overall enthusiasm for leading and growing in their specific areas.

CYT Santa Cruz

CYT Santa Cruz

A huge shout-out to Sean Grossnickle’s awesome idea of casts writing letters to one another – either to a cast in another area who’s doing the same show or a cast performing the same weekend. Although he encouraged HYPE groups to spearhead the letter writing, it’s open for any and every CYT area that wants to participate. 

CYT Houston

CYT Houston

It’s so cool that the students are being innovative and sparking movements among the CYT groups. This is exactly the vision that was set for them at the Expo, and it’s so encouraging to see it take form!

Find out more about HYPE and how you can get involved HERE

Cyclists are raving about CYT Fredericksburg

On September 6th, CYT Fredericksburg participated in their local YMCA Lakes and Grapes Century Ride. This was a 50, 75, or 100 mile bike ride for over 300 people! Along the way there were about six rest areas that gave the bikers water, snacks, and some encouragement, and CYT was the 2nd rest stop on the map (30 miles into the bike ride).  

CYT Fredericksburg went all out and the cyclists loved it! They had sets from Little Mermaid, a water mister hanging from the trees, water, Gatorade, peanut butter sandwiches, oranges, grapes, goldfish, chocolate, and of course the amazing CYT kids cheering them all on with some great music playing in the background.

Not only did the kids have a great experience, but they were voted the NUMBER ONE rest stop of the day!! It was a long day for the teens, arriving at 7am and working in the heat until almost 1pm, but they did a great job!






We’re always so excited to hear about the awesome ways CYT Fredericksburg gives back to their community (like thisthis, and this). A big shout out to everyone involved!

An update from CYT Japan

We’ve previously discussed how Eric Stapleton has a vision to bring CYT to Japan. He just completed his third short-term mission trip to Tokyo to serve the missionaries of TEAM and their families, and produced two CYT camps that blended music, drama, bible studies, VBS crafts, and showcases.


Eric sums it up best: “Our task was to bring a little fun and, hopefully, spiritual refreshment to the youth who have no such thing as CYT in Japan except for when we come there in the summer.”

Check out his CYT Japan blog for the full lowdown of his latest trip, including photos, videos, and some pretty incredible moments.

CYT San Diego celebrates at the Director’s Choice Awards


It may just be me, but I think a love of theater directly results in a love of awards shows.

I know at least CYT San Diego agrees because they have the Director’s Choice Awards – CYT’s version of Hollywood’s Academy Awards! Each year CYT nominates the best of the best in each category from the Fall, Winter, and Spring sessions of shows around the county. The artistic director, the managing director, and a selected committee review all the shows and nominate outstanding work.

The accumulation of the year comes together in a special evening with an exciting awards show featuring some of the top musical numbers from the previous year (important tidbit: it also features a red carpet!) Winners are announced that evening at this special gala event.

Below are some pics from this year’s DCA’s, as well as the list of winners. Congrats everyone!

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Courtney Wolfe – The Sound of Music

Greg Power – Rapunzel
Asher Smith – Rapunzel
Ryan Tafolla – Rapunzel
Jeremy Power – Rapunzel

Loren Fernandez – as Donkey

Emily Smedley – as Miss Flannery

Trevor Cruse – as Drake

Tierra Gonzalea – as Tiger Lily

Nicky Redd – as JoJo

Summer Zazo-Waterman – as Little Pocahontas

Josh Powers – Shrek

Cari Callen – School House Rock

Anthony Escobedo – as Trevor Graydon

Ashley Bassett – as Omar

Liam Galleher – as Lord Farquaad

Alyssa Towmbly – as Fiona

Roy Bennett – as Tom Sawyer

Danielle Levas – Forget About the Boy

Kelli Kelley – It’s in the BIBLE

Daniel Collins – Do-Re-Me

Cara Filley

North County Inland – Thoroughly Modern Millie
San Diego East County – Annie
San Diego East County – The Sound of Music
Tri City – Tom Sawyer
South County – Shrek

Shrek – South County

HYPE students reflect on the CYT EXPO


HYPE students were super excited to attend the EXPO this year. And they were not disappointed.

About 48 members of High School Youth Pursuing Excellence gathered together in Houston at this year’s CYT EXPO to reunite with each other, meet new members, attend HYPE-focused workshops, and join other CYT students in the gazillion other activities that the EXPO had to offer. Here are some highlights from their weekend:

A team building activity they did called "Laser-Beam Boogie"

A team building activity they did called “Laser-Beam Boogie”

The HYPE students who attended came from Denver, Fredericksburg, Houston, Kansas City, Phoenix, San Diego, Santa Cruz, and Spokane – a total of 8 cities represented! Fredericksburg just started HYPE last month and they sent 14 students!

After Dark dance party!

After Dark dance party!

Students attended workshops with themes of “Who Do You Identify With?”, “Who Are You Reflecting?”, “The HYPE Model” and “Creative Conflict Management.” They also were involved in presenting at a “HYPE for All” workshop for all students interested in joining HYPE.

An activity called "The Mirror Activity" from the HYPE workshop "Who Are You Reflecting?"

An activity called “The Mirror Activity” from the HYPE workshop “Who Are You Reflecting?”

A lot of adult leaders also attended the “HYPE for All” workshop, meaning that the interest for starting HYPE in many more cities is high! We are so excited to see how HYPE will continue to grow this year.

One of the "After Dark" rehearsals with Jon Lorenz

One of the “After Dark” rehearsals with Jon Lorenz

A couple thoughts from some of the students:

My favorite part is a bit clichéd, but still, it was getting to meet all the people from other areas. It’s just so cool that you get to see what other areas are up to and see the similarities and differences between that area and your own. Also needless to say all the people you meet are really cool and amazing!” – Christian Spangler, HYPE San Diego

“I thought it was awesome when we learned about the HYPE roles, and I found out that my role last year is actually super awesome, and that I want to have that role again this year!” – Chrissy Nefe, HYPE Denver

“The Expo for me was a very enlightening and awesome experience. It felt like the CYT I had always known and it was comforting to know that the family extends to all parts of the country. It really put the shear scope of the impact CYT has into perspective. I know now that wherever there is a CYT, I have a home. I feel like the experience is a must for any upcoming HYPE President to make connections and get ideas about how to improve their area of HYPE. There was also the awesome showcase and the chance to make great friends. Nothing else like it.” – Sean Grossnickle, HYPE Kansas City

Thank you to all the HYPE students who attended the EXPO this year! Learn more about how you can get involved with the HYPE in your CYT area HERE.