CYT Needs You!

Have you ever dreamed of working for CYT? Or perhaps you don’t know much about CYT, but you’re looking for an environment where talent is celebrated, family is valued, and work is done with excellence, integrity, and FUN! Look no further, CYT is on the search for a Technologies Assistant. Contact Travis Russell at with resume and/or inquiries.


Title: Technologies Assistant
Basic Function: Responsible for Support Tickets, Website, Software, and Resources Portal
Immediate Supervisor: Director of Technologies
Give Direction To: N/A
Expected Hours: 20 hours per week
Pay: $20/hr.


  • Must have organization skills
  • Ability to manage support request, customer service
  • Knowledge of task and schedule management
  • Knowledge of Graphic Design Programs including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign
  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL

Operational Tasks

  • Management of graphic projects (calendaring)
  • Website development, maintenance, and training
  • Software development and maintenance
  • Development of CYT Resources (online materials and resources)
  • Marketing Resources (quarterly and as needed)
  • Ad Hoc Communications and Digital tasks as assigned by Director of Technologies.
  • NLC/EXPO technical support and prep for the event (lighting, sound, technical)

Behavioral Standards:

  • Understand CYT Mission Statement and Values and Objective and be willing to incorporate them when performing job-related tasks.
  • Acknowledge CYT’s goal to do business as the “friendliest place on earth” and agree to perform all job-related duties in support of this goal.
  • A desire and ability to model strong moral characteristics in all work-related duties.
  • Ability to work well with people and as a team member.

All New! 2016 My CYT Story Competition

One of the great things about CYT is that no matter who you are, young or old, you leave each CYT experience with a new story to share. We think the world should hear those stories, and so, we are now taking submissions for the CYT Blog to publish your own personal “My CYT Story”!

Who should submit a CYT Story? Anyone who has ever had any experience with CYT… EVER! Students, alumni, teachers, directors, patrons, cast, crew, staff members, and any other friend of CYT, these stories are for you to write and the world to read. And the cool thing is, you can submit over and over again! Click HERE to submit your story to be considered for the CYT National blog!

Now on to the contest. Current CYT students (ages 11-18) may opt to have their story (or stories) entered in this year’s My CYT Story Competition and possibly win free registration to the 2016 CYT EXPO! Check out our 4th Annual My CYT Story Competition below!

It’s the same contest as years past, but with new opportunities! Keep reading for the deets on this year’s contest and how YOU can be part of it.


The My CYT Story Competition celebrates everything that makes CYT great (psst, it’s you!)! Anyone can do youth theatre, but there is something special about CYT. Did CYT change your life or teach you something new about yourself? Do you have a CYT Story to share? We want to hear it! Follow the steps below to submit your stories for the 2016 My CYT Story Competition:

  1. Make sure your are a current CYT student who is at least 11 years old.
  2. Think of your favorite CYT story.
  3. Submit your story right here! You can attach up to 4 images to accompany your story. (You can also click on the Submit a Story link at the top left corner of this blog anytime.)
  4. Click “Yes!” when you get to part on the form that asks, “Would you like your story to be submitted into the 2016 National My CYT Story Competition?”
  5. Make sure to get your submission in by March 1st, 2016. (Entries received after this date, will be forwarded to the 2017 contest, assuming submissions still meet the My CYT Story Competition entry requirements.)
  6. There is no limit to the number of submissions you can make.

Not only will we be posting your stories for the world to see, right here on the National CYT Blog, but your local CYT area leadership will be sifting through them as well and selecting the 2016 My CYT Story Regional Winners! Each Regional Winner will win free registration to the 2016 CYT EXPO in San Diego!

The 2016 My CYT Story Regional Winners will be announced by May 6, 2016.

The 2016 My CYT Story National Winner will be selected from the Regional Winners and announced at the 2016 CYT EXPO in San Diego, CA. The National winner gets not only endless bragging rights, a cool accolade on their college application, and a feature story on the National CYT Blog, but also an exclusive My CYT Story National Winner button and a free CYT sweatshirt from the CYT store!

So, c’mon! Click here and submit those stories!

Need some inspiration? Check out the 2015 My CYT Story National Winner, Alexandra Gandy’s, story here. Or click on the My CYT Story tag below and read through all of the winners.

*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 as been selected as a Regional Winner. 


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!

My CYT Story 2015 Finalist: Katie Gilchrist, CYT Nashville

Ever get knocked down, again, and start to doubt that you’ll ever be able to pull yourself up?

My name is Katie Gilchrist, from CYT Nashville, and this is My CYT Story.

CYT Nashville's Katie Gilchrist.

CYT Nashville’s Katie Gilchrist.

When I first came to CYT I had just gotten rejected from a show for the first time. While normally that wouldn’t be a very traumatic experience for a kid, it was for me. I suffer from extremely low self- esteem and anxiety. It hit me incredibly hard and I had an unbelievably rough week or two. While my mom scouted for other theater opportunities to help me gain my confidence back just a little, I wallowed in my own self- pity and self-loathing. Then a friend of hers told her about CYT.

When I came into auditions I felt fierce, like “I’ll scratch your eyes out for this part don’t cross me” sorta thing. Then there was such a feel of family with people I had never met, and I dropped it almost immediately. It was surreal, especially hearing people cheer for one another during auditions instead of just competing. Even though we had always gone to church, I hadn’t been very spiritual before and so the feeling that washed over me was completely foreign, I now know that was the love of God.

I got my first part with CYT as The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. I entered that first rehearsal knowing absolutely nobody and left with an entire cast of new friends all of which shared my emerging personal faith. In that first show I grew under the love of God so much and each time we met I felt myself become more and more of who I used to be. It helped me realize that my disorder cannot and will not describe me. It also made me come to terms with the fact that I do actually have a disorder. While I have to work to control those feelings, I know God will love me just the same.

My mom always says, “God will never give you a task you can’t handle”. I truly believe that God sent me to CYT as a kind of a Guardian Angel to help me with my task of overcoming anxiety. Now I’ve just now finished my 3rd show and am preparing to audition for my 4th and I am at the best I’ve been in years. I’d just like to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped me get to where I am now. You have done more than you can imagine and I quite possibly owe you my life.

*This story was selected as a National finalist in the 2015 My CYT Story competition.

My CYT Story 2015 Finalist: KJ Hutcheson, CYT Tri-Valley

Ever have your friends move away and wonder what you’ll do to feel close to them now that you’re miles apart? 

My name is KJ Hutcheson, from CYT Tri-Valley, and this is My CYT Story.


KJ from CYT Tri-Valley

Our friends, Paisley and Presley DuPuis moved to Coeur D Alene, Idaho. When they moved there they got involved with the community by attending this thing called “CYT”. As we caught up with each other through email, social media, etc. We were able to understand what CYT really was. When it finally came to the Tri-Valley I couldn’t wait to start.

When I sat down on the first day of summer camp with the other kids I was nervous and excited. It seemed like they had the same expectation that I did, that this was a normal theatre camp where we put on a good show and learn about theatre. It didn’t take me long to realize it was more than putting on a good show. Eventually we did, it was so much more than that. It was about using our talents God has given us to glorify Him.

The fall classes showed me many things about theatre. It taught me that acting can be fun and creative. When I first started the acting class I thought that it was just trying to be like someone else, but then I realized that you can be creative and add your own way of doing things while acting. Throughout the fall I enjoyed learning about theatre and that you can be yourself. CYT has given me the opportunity to fellowship with other Christians, and that has been a huge blessing in my life.

CYT has made a big impact in my life. I have been taught many things about theatre, but more important it has taught me lessons about life. I have also realized how important it is to have fellowship with others. All of us kids at CYT have been amazed at what we can do here at CYT to glorify God. Even though the CYT Tri-Valley is just getting started, I cant wait to see how it will impact the community in the future.

*This story was selected as a National finalist in the 2015 My CYT Story competition. We will be featuring all of the area winners’ stories on this blog in the next few weeks. Come on back & get inspired!


CYT North Idaho

Wanna help generate more CYT stories like this one? CYT North Idaho is seeking an Artistic Director. Please see Job Description and Employment Application on the CYT-North Idaho website.  

My CYT Story 2015 National Winner: Alexandra Gandy, CYT Indy

When you started high school, did you lose your way a little…or a lot? Did you forget who you were and start to doubt your worth? Did you forget about God and all the things that kept you close to Him? Me, too.

My name is Alexandra Gandy, from CYT Indy, and this is My CYT Story.

CYT Indy's Alex G.

CYT Indy’s Alex G.

     When entering high school, students are faced with many changes, both academically and socially. For some, this is a smooth transition, but for others, this is grueling. When I entered high school, I seemed to be making nothing but mistakes. I chose an unwholesome friend group, I slacked off on my academics and I stopped going to church. Nothing about me was Christ-like. Not my language, my choice of dress, or the people with whom I associated. I had fallen out of my faith. Somewhere in me, I knew something was wrong. I began to find dissatisfaction with myself. I couldn’t quite determine what it was that made me so ashamed to be me. I blamed it on things like how I looked, when in reality, I was ashamed of the way I was acting. I fell into a depression as I found more and more fault with myself. This all reached a tipping point when, within a year, I lost a close family friend, my great grandma, and had not been cast in my school’s musical, which I had been looking forward to. I was inconsolable. My grades declined along with my hope.

Then my mom suggested I sign up for a CYT class. I wasn’t interested. I didn’t even like church, why would I ever join a Christian organization? She kept pushing until, finally, I agreed. I cannot even begin to describe the impact that CYT has had on my life. It all started when I was cast in Narnia. There, I was welcomed with open arms, despite all of the flaws I thought made me so undesirable. Seeing the devotion to God that my fellow cast mates had, inspired me. I began to see the good things about myself, and where I was going wrong in my walk with Christ.

I decided to leave my friend group at school and seek better company. I began to focus on my academics. I changed my language and how I dressed and began attending church regularly. My relationship with God only continued to grow with each class and show. Today, my faith is the strongest it has ever been. I am not only confident in myself, but also in the Lord. As I enter the next stage of my life, I know that I will once again be challenged by change. However, this time will be different. The lessons I have learned at CYT and the relationships I have made have changed me forever. I know now, that no matter how hopeless I might feel, that I can always contact people like Risa Krauter, Peggy Davis, Tony Johnson, Ashley and Spencer Elliot, Aria Cheney, Tyler Hutchinson, Becca Wenning, Amity Aschliman and Melissa Dameron as well as countless other students and adults that I have met for guidance, support, and encouragement. With them and God on my side, I know I can go anywhere my faith can take me, and thanks to CYT, I know my faith can take me far.

 *This story was selected as the National winner in the 2015 My CYT Story competition. We will be featuring all of the area winners’ stories on this blog in the next few weeks. Come on back & get inspired!

CYT Kansas City has HEART

Do you know what God’s plan is for children with disabilities?

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28. That calling includes disabilities.

My name is Josie Strickler, the HEART director for CYT Kansas City, and this is My CYT Story.

One of my earliest memories about disabilities is when I was in grade school. I remember seeing students with disabilities every day. I did not consider them my friends as they were not in class with me. I do remember seeing them go into another classroom. I would watch the teacher gather them and turn and close the door.

When my daughter Halie Rae was born, it took only a few moments in the delivery room to experience the feeling that seemed to stop time and it brought me back to the vision of a closed door when I heard the words Down syndrome. I was terrified of what this meant for our daughters life. God soon filled me with His hope and I started questioning why the world had such low expectations for our special children. What was the purpose of that closed door? Was the door shut to keep kids with disabilities from us or was it a door to protect them from us?  I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more Psalm 71:14

Halie Rae in Beauty and the Beast

Halie Rae in Beauty and the Beast

We knew God had answered our prayers when we were invited to CYT. We were soon meeting new families and Halie was making new friends. Watching Halie Rae in her first CYT production was a miracle for our family. The kindness and compassion cast members displayed to Halie on stage was visible. We felt a strong presence of Jesus right beside us and trusting in his plans became very clear as he unfolded them right in front of our eyes.

I began working at CYT in 2006. It is an honor and a privilege to support children with disabilities. Meeting with new families and communicating with them on how to best support their child helps us learn about disabilities and how they may affect each individual in their own unique way. We take time to plan and prepare for each session. Our supportive environment developed the inclusion program long before we knew what it would be called. Inviting families and welcoming all children in a program that glorifies God is not difficult to do, it is the right thing to do. …with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26.

Halie as a townsperson in Charlotte's Web

Halie Rae in Tom Sawyer

Jesus offers hope to us through the H.E.A.R.T.  (Helping to Encourage Awareness and Recognition in Theater) program as our students with disabilities grow in skills and perform at each showcase. They sign up for auditions and celebrate being part of a cast. They attend classes and rehearsals with committment and dedication. They develop character and grow spiritually as they participate in worship. Our stories and experiences are evidence of God’s Heart. We are blessed as we watch children with disabilities learn and develop their talents alongside children without disabilities. At CYT all children grow in the confidence they need to help them live the life God intended for them to live. Encouraging them to be the best they can be fills them with joy and fills their families with hope.

Halie Rae as a townsperson in

Halie Rae as a cake lady in Charlotte’s Web

Life is challenging for everyone and children with disabilities have many challenges every day of their lives that are caused by their disability. Today, many of our children are growing up experiencing many health concerns like anxiety and depression. Children with disabilities are no different. When my daughter Halie experienced anxiety and depression a couple of years ago, CYT never gave up on her. It was through prayer, worship and theater that carried her through the most difficult moments of her life. She learned to grow in her faith and she learned to trust God more than ever. Today, she is grateful for God’s healing and she prays every day and she seeks prayer for others. She lives her life trusting Gods plan for her life and future.

Our family believes that God’s plan for children with disabilities is to glorify Jesus as we minister to them. Through their needs we find opportunities to serve God and we are so grateful.

The H.E.A.R.T.  program at CYT is a blessing and a place where you can expect miracles!

You can contact Josie at