A recap of the 2014 CYT EXPO

It has been a couple weeks since the 2014 CYT EXPO. And it has taken us that long to come down from the high and wrap our brains around what a fantastic weekend it was. We are going to go out on a limb and say that this year’s EXPO was the best yet! With over 300 in attendance, students and leaders reconnected with their fellow CYT friends from across the nation and experienced what it truly means to be a part of one big CYT family.

CYT Expo

This year’s theme, “Through the Looking Glass”, really hit home when it was revealed that whether it’s through joy or tragedy, triumphs or defeat, happiness or sadness…when you look in the mirror, you can see everyone from your CYT family standing by you in the reflection. We are all in this together and there is no place we’d rather be than CYT!

My CYT Story Winners

My CYT Story Winners

There were so many incredible highlights from the weekend – guest artist Jon Lorenz, the closing night showcase with exceptional solos, harmonies, featured dancers, and the worlds greatest teenagers (can I get an “eye-five”), worship in the morning, HYPE breakouts, Improv rounds, workshops throughout the day, special evening events, late night rehearsals, and dance parties. It didn’t matter if you were in HYPE, Improv, or neither, we all came together for a common goal and it was such a huge success.

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Speaking of Improv…the Improvathon was AMAZING. Congrats to the Improvathon team “Stay Glassy San Diego” from CYT San Diego for taking home the trophy! 

Improv Finals!

Improv Finals!

Perhaps one of the most special times of all was when all the CYT leaders from around the country gathered together. One point that was made in the meeting by the CYT Spokane Artistic Director is that “we are all called”… it doesn’t matter who we are, or what job we perform, we are all called to be a part of this organization.  

The incomparable CYT leaders

The incomparable CYT leaders

Thank you to everyone that was a part of the jam-packed, fast-paced, memorable weekend…it was one none of us will soon forget.

P.S. Stay tuned for the our EXPO Through Instagram blog post. Hilarious.

Get ready for hilarity at the Improvation


Real talk: the CYT Improvathon is legendary.

If you’re lucky enough to be going to the CYT Expo in July, you’re going to get to witness it (or be in it — lucky!)

Bobby Marchessault, CYT’s Improvathon Director, is the brain behind this epic entertainment. He filled me in on all things improv and what people can expect this year at the Expo.

Break it down for me Bobby. Explain the Improvathon.

Break it down…in some ways that’s like asking me to untangle a giant hairball. Let’s just say it’s two days of absolute hilarity and fun as teams from all over the county come together to celebrate and share their love for all things funny and improv. All of these actors get together regularly around the country and create stories and entertain, and for this brief event they get to learn from each other, get to know each other, and root each other on in what really is a very difficult art form.

What do attendees and participants have to look forward to at the Expo?

This year, attendees have the opportunity to see 18 teams present their own pre-scheduled improv show. Two shows will happen simultaneously, all day long, every half hour. That’s day one. Then, on Friday, we switch up the format with what we call TheaterSports. All day in the ballroom, teams will perform together in a farcical sort of head-to-head comedy sporting event. One of our judges will “ref” these shows and the audience will help us to award “points” to teams. It’s gonna be a blast and Expo attendees are gonna wanna see as much of it as they can.

The Finals are on Friday night of the Expo. How many teams, and how do you win?
In those first two days of performances, we have judges who will be watching and “scoring” games. The top three teams will put on an awe-inspiring, life-changing, earth-shattering display of improv genius for all the attendees of Expo 2014. Our judges will have the unenviable position of deciding which of those three teams did the best storytelling and entertained us all the most. There are some ideas in the works to include the audience on a percentage of that decision making, but you might just have to show up to see how that comes into play.

What other fun stuff will the Improv students be doing over the long weekend?
As if that isn’t more fun than one can safely handle in two days already? One of the beauties of the Expo this year is that Improv students will also be invited to jump into all the events that the other students are taking part in as well. And on Thursday, we’ll have a giant workshop where both improv students and HYPE students will get to hone some improv skills and play games with actors from other cities and teams. I’m anticipating a pretty amazing couple of days and can’t wait to get to Houston to meet all the actors and see them do their thing.

Thank you so much for all the insight, Bobby!

Dear reader – read up on anything more you’d ever want to know about the Improvathon HERE.


This is Bobby.

Bobby Marchessault grew up in Chula Vista, CA and had his first theater experience at CYT South Bay in the chorus of Oliver. He was hooked and performed in several more CYT productions before becoming a member of the Young Americans where he taught  singing, dancing, and improv in over 100 schools across the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. Bobby especially loves teaching and investing in youth, using theater and the arts as a way to teach and learn about life. His favorite thing about improv? Not only do actors learn to think fast and respond to our surroundings, it helps us all forget about our inhibitions and hangups and not take ourselves or life so stinking seriously!

CYT Expo: It’s all in the family

The CYT Expo is less than three weeks away! As we continue the countdown, CYT co-founder Sheryl Russell shares her thoughts on what the Expo means to her and why she’s so excited to see you in Houston.

Sheryl (center) with CYT leadership at the 2011 Expo.

Sheryl (center) with CYT leadership at the 2011 Expo.

The CYT “awkwardly closer than family” gathers once a year at EXPO to celebrate our accomplishments, to learn new best practices, to encourage each other, and to just have fun. We also have our national Improvathon competition, HYPE training, and this year we’ve added student activities.

Technology had helped us in so many ways… Email, texting, FB, Instagram, Dropbox, iPhone & on & on. But there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation. EXPO allows us to look each other in the eyes & listen with our hearts.

I think one of the greatest benefits to attending EXPO is mentioned in Philippians 2:1-2 Living Translation:

Is there any such thing as Christians cheering each other up? Do you love me enough to want to help me? Does it mean anything to you that we are brothers in the Lord, sharing the same Spirit? Are your hearts tender and sympathetic at all? Then make me truly happy by loving each other and agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, working together with one heart and mind and purpose.

We definitely cheer each other up…it’s amazing to watch the Affiliates sharing ideas with each other and going the extra mile to make sure that not only is their program successful but all Affiliates are successful. It is about helping each other… learning from our wins and our failures. We share the same Spirit… we love God and we love people… we celebrate Christ’s gift of life to us. As a nation we have rallied with tender hearts to support those who have lost loved ones.

As a parent, one of my greatest joys is having my children and grandchildren together at in the same place at the same time. I believe EXPO brings the CYT family together in one place at one time. EXPO is a time to get our “emotional tanks” full as well as the opportunity to reenforce the “CYT Model”. We are a unique entity and it’s very reaffirming that we have our own “normal” when we are all together.

I had a CYT Mom share with me recently that she thought her daughter might be a little different and then she joined CYT. She saw kids who were exactly like her daughter and was over joyed and realize they had found their “like-minded” community.

Excited to see everyone and give and get the CYT hugs!!!

Get details about registration HERE.

CYT Expo 2014 – aka The Ultimate Student Experience

Okay, fine. We’ve been talking a lot about the upcoming CYT Expo lately. Perhaps we assume that you know what we’re talking about and perhaps that’s why we haven’t thought to properly break down why you should be as excited as we are. Until now.

EXPO 2014

This year’s Expo theme: The Looking Glass – Who Are You Reflecting?

The bottom line is that the Expo is one big celebration of our CYT family. It exists to bring unity to CYT Affiliates across the country through workshops, gathering, sharing, and more (read: singing, dancing & performing – we are CYT after all). This includes CYT students as well as Affiliate leadership.

As if that paragraph did not not get you excited enough, did you know this year’s Expo is officially unlike any that has ever been before?  Here’s why.

Historically, the CYT Expo has been host to one of CYT’s most hilarious, annual events – The Improvathon! Not too long ago, CYT high school students who belonged to their local HYPE groups were invited to come to Expo as well. But now, this year we are happy to include all CYT students ages 12-19 to come be a part of the complete Expo student experience.

The student schedule is specially designed so that specific activities (Improv, for example) will be just one of the many shenanigans planned for the weekend-long program (not to mention the schedule allows for everyone to be available to watch the Improvathon Finals on Friday night! All of the other students and leaders can be there to cheer them on!)

There will be amazing HYPE sessions and back-to-back activities for those who are “students only” (that just means they aren’t in Improv or HYPE). As an entire group, we will be holding a very special “Audition Workshop” where students will have the chance to audition and get feedback from Special Guest Artist Jon Lorenz, and CYT co-founder Paul Russell.

Another fun thing (new this year) is CYT After Dark, where all students will gather to rehearse a showcase to be performed at the end of the weekend. What better way to come together as ONE CYT than to Act, Sing, Dance, and Live as one big happy group!

These are just a few of the highlights from this year’s plan of events at the CYT Expo. It’s not too late to register, so what are you waiting for? These are going to be three days in July that you do not want to miss.

Oh, one more thing. We’ll be blogging more Expo-isms in the upcoming weeks and highlighting certain peeps who are overseeing various aspects of the weekend. The person responsible for the incredible student experience that we have described above is CYT Inc’s very own Creative Director Renee Kauffman.

face 1

Hi Renee!

A little about her: She began her CYT journey by attending Summer Camp in 1995, where she met the world’s greatest friends and became a “lifer”. She has gone from CYT student to teacher, camp counselor, Choreographer, Director, and now full-time staff member. She has graced the stage with some fantastic roles but her all-time favorite role is being wife to Curtis Kauffman, the really cute Production Shop Manager at CYT San Diego, and mother to 8-month-old, Sailor Alice. 

The 2014 CYT Expo // details

CYT Inc’s Creative Director, Renee Kauffman, has some exciting plans for you in July:

It’s that time again! We’ve changed our clocks, the sun is shining a little bit longer each day, and warmer weather is on the horizon. Before we know it, July will be here and we’ll be watching fireworks, singing “God Bless America”, and hopping on a plane to Houston! That’s right, I said Houston. That’s where the 2014 CYT Expo is taking place, and registration is officially open.

EXPO 2014

There’s plenty in store for this year’s event, but I can hardly give away every detail just yet. One thing is certain: you don’t want to miss it. If you are a CYT Affiliate Leader (Artistic Director, Managing Director, staff member, Area Coordinator, Board Member, Production Team member, or someone who is ready to take on a larger leadership role) or a CYT student between the ages of 12-19 (students do not need to be in HYPE or Improvathon to attend), then the 2014 CYT Expo is for you!

You can get every detail you’d ever want to know and also register here. See you in Houston!

CYT North Idaho’s Improv Team Takes Top Prize at Local Improv Competition

From L: Kaitie Hunt, Tyler Nethercott, Presley DuPuis, Joy Weadick and Trenton Klinkefus.

CYT North Idaho’s Improv Team recently won the top prize in a local Improv competition.

ImprovOff!, put on by Chill Bucket Productions, was their first venture into Improvisational competition. Five teams competed, including four high school teams.

CYT NI’s Improv team is currently busy raising the necessary funds to attend the 2013 CYT Expo in Santa Cruz, CA, where they’ll be competing in the National Improvathon, June 24th-26th. In their spare time, the team is practicing for the competition and hoping for a “two-winning” streak!