EXPO 2015: The Student Experience


Are you a CYT student age 12-19? If so, what are you doing June 21-24? If you said “attending CYT’s EXPO“, then you win a gold star! Read on below to learn more about what you get to do during EXPO!

All CYT students, ages 12 – 19, are invited to come to EXPO. Some students may be involved in HYPE or Improvathon, but those are just portions of the whole student experience that takes place at EXPO. When HYPE and IMPROV are not taking place, those students are encouraged to join their other fellow CYT students in fun activities, workshops, free time and more!

Here’s a spattering of just some of the Special Events/Workshops we have in store for you! Check out the EXPO page and EXPO guidebook for more details!

CYT After Dark takes place each night around 9pm. It’s the perfect hang out spot where there will be massive dance parties, glow sticks flying through the air, special guests, prize giveaways, coffee-talk, games, talent shows and MORE! If you’re a student at EXPO, it’s the number one place to be!

These four little words pretty much sum up CYT. We’ll be focusing on these themes all throughout our time at EXPO with workshops, activities, special guest speakers and interviews, and more!

Have you ever wanted to know what it takes to become an equity actor in live theater? How does it work? What are the pros and cons? Is it really possible to make a living as a stage performer? Hear from professional, equity actors who work all over San Diego and can tell you the inside scoop on what it takes.

Learn from Hollywood actors as they walk you through their personal experience on the road to the big and small screen. Gain special insight into a world of Agents, Managers, casting calls, auditions and more!

Have you ever wanted to perform at a Disney theme park? Come find out from those who have worked or are currently working as some of Disney’s most notable characters at theme parks both here and abroad!

KNOW YOUR TYPE – “Are you a good witch? Or a bad witch?”
Who do you think you are…onstage? Do you keep getting cast in the same type of role? Is there a disconnect with the types of roles you want and the types of roles you get cast in? At this workshop, you will get an honest read from fellow actors & an experienced director about how you come across when you audition. This workshop hopes to help actors hone in on what type(s) of character(s) they are currently most suited to playing. We will also discuss the value in actors having a few well-rehearsed stock characters in their performance arsenals.

CYT’s, first ever, Reality TV show challenge! Be a part of the pilot episode where you will be broken up into teams, given specific challenges that you have to complete, film behind the scenes interviews and more! The winners will be announced live on closing night of EXPO and the television show will be released on CYT TV. It’s bound to be a ton of fun!

Bring your best one minute audition song that you think showcases the best of your vocal abilities. Receive instant feedback on song selection, vocal range, interpretation and more, while at the same time trying for a solo spot in the National Showcase (to be performed at closing night of EXPO).

We’re guessing you have some pretty great ideas… and we want to hear them! Join this round-table discussion and share your thoughts on what you would do if you were the “Wizard” of CYT.

This fun, one of a kind talent show will take place at CYT After Dark. No need to come prepared with anything. You will be given a challenge the night of and have just 10 minutes to put your act together. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s another chance for you to show us what you got!

This year we’re bringing back the National Showcase at the close of EXPO, with performance opportunities for all students in attendance. Audition for a solo during the Audition Workshop, or just jump in to learn the choreography and songs. What better way to celebrate being one big happy CYT family than by participating in one big National Showcase!

If you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s ALWAYS MORE!

So what are you waiting for? Head over to the EXPO page now and register today!!


The Benefits of Arts in Education and CYT@school

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CYT strongly supports the inclusion of arts in education. Click here to learn more about the CYT@school program.

As a mother of 2nd grader attending a public school in Seattle, WA, I regularly wonder about the arts education my daughter is (or is not) receiving at school. I’m blessed that my daughter’s school includes of a community of arts-minded parents who volunteer their time and knowledge to the students, to ensure that the arts are included in their educational experience, regardless of district funding and staffing. I’ve even had the pleasure of being able to direct the last two plays at her school (cast size: approx 130!). I witness first hand the joy and community that the arts inspire at my daughter’s school. However, I know that this privilege is not afforded to many, many schools & communities in our country. I lament that all children don’t have these opportunities. Sadly, arts in education is still viewed by many as a non-essential element for education and consequently, receives inadequate funding. But, some groups are working to change that perception.

This past January,The LA Times posted on the National Assn. of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim, CA. In their article, they reported on the benefits of arts in education. They stated:

Though topics at the National Assn. of Music Merchants (NAMM) convention in Anaheim most often trend toward musicians, musical instruments and how they interact, one panel at the annual industry gathering tilted in a decidedly socially conscious direction. (…)

(D)uring a presentation on the benefits of intensive arts education for students at eight of the nation’s lowest performing public schools (….) The results of a two-year study were unveiled Thursday, and the numbers demonstrated dramatic improvement in academic performance — not just in math, science and reading, but also in improved attendance rates and significant reductions in disciplinary problems reflected in reduced suspension and expulsion statistics at more than half of the schools.

Among the study’s key findings: Students in the eight schools that incorporated arts programs into their regular curricula exhibited an average 22.6% increase in math proficiency and a 12.6% improvement in reading proficiency. Those figures exceeded increases in the their districts as a whole (20.1% and 7.9%, respectively), and were markedly higher than other schools in their states receiving federal school improvement grants (SIG), at 16.2% and 5.6% respectively.

(Please click here to read the rest of this inspiring article from latimes.com.)

At CYT, we also strongly believe in the value of arts in education. We are deeply committed to serving all children through the arts, including when they are at school. One way that we do so is through our CYT@school program. Here is an excerpt from our CYT@school Mission Statement:

Many schools have had to cut their arts programs. CYT@school is dedicated to bringing to your school a low-cost, after school program developed to support the performing arts training in public and private schools. Research has shown that performing arts helps students gain confidence, build leadership skills and develop a sense of community. CYT wants to ensure that students everywhere have an opportunity to experience theater arts.

Our CYT San Diego affiliate currently serves 30+ schools with their successful CYT@school program. Click here to learn more about CYT@school and see if it’s right for your school. If you are interested in starting up a CYT@school program in your school, email: heather@cyt.org for more information.

It is our hope that eventually arts will be seen an a necessity in education rather than just a “perk.”

EXPO 2015 Registration is here!

EXPO 2015 Registration is here! Hop on over to our EXPO homepage and register today before you’re too late! While you are there make sure you check out our EXPO Guidebook for all your EXPO needs!

We have an incredible week lined up with amazing guest speakers, workshops, Improv competition, and more!

Students: Ever wondered how to figure out your acting “type”? Want to learn about how to become an equity actor? Well, come to EXPO and find out!

Leadership: Ready to learn about how to become an engaged board member? Want to get some incredible fundraising ideas? How about learning how to communicate casting to your families? Learn all these things and more at the 2015 EXPO!

While you are there don’t forget to register for our special event, held at the hotel just hours before EXPO begins! Spots are already filling up! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn from these incredible instructors.


James Eckhouse

James Eckhouse

Sign up today for this limited availability master class taught by long-term Actor/Educator, James Eckhouse and Playwright/Director/Actor, Keliher Walsh. During this 2 hour Master Acting Class for students ages 15-21, you’ll receive dedicated attention to help hone your craft with the guidance of professionals. This unique Acting Master Class will be held at the San Diego Resort and Spa Hotel immediately before the EXPO begins. Only 30 spots available!

WHO: Open to anyone ages 15 – 21 (do not need to be registered for EXPO)
WHEN: Sunday, June 21st 3pm – 5pm
WHERE: San Diego Resort & Spa
RESTRICTIONS: Only 30 spots available!

60s Gala at CYT Portland

Special thanks to Theresa Van Wetten, Managing Director of CYT Portland, for this story:


Our groovy CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell (on the right), attend the 60s gala at CYT Portland

Once again CYT Portland hit it out of the park with their 2nd Annual Winter Gala raising $40K! This year’s theme: “CYTV Presents a Tribute to 60’s Television” took guests back to some of their favorite childhood memories. Batman welcomed each patron as they walked through the giant television into the entrance of the venue where beatniks, go-go girls, and various stars from television past mingled with the crowd.

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Holy Guacamole, Batman! It’s the founders of CYT!

As the evening unfolded, The Ed Sullivan Show brought to life superstars like “The Paulettes,” and  Nancy Sinatra, who sang, “These Boots are Made For Walkin'”. The Beatnik Dancers took center stage movin’ and groovin’  to “That Thing You Do” and ” You Can’t Stop the Beat”.

CYTV at CYT Portland's 2015 gala.

CYTV at CYT Portland’s 2015 gala.

As the channels changed, Vex Luther and the evil Turjerkastans threatened atomic bombs and total destruction, luckily, Get Smart‘s Agent 99 saved the entire audience from utter annihilation! In the end Paul and Sheryl Russell spoke eloquently on the foundations of CYT and how it benefits the kids in Portland.

CYT Portland's Winter Gala cast.

CYT Portland’s Winter Gala cast.

The evening wrapped up as Paul led the cast, crew, and audience in singing Bert Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now.” By the evening’s end, everyone was on their feet dancing that famous 60’s dance craze, “The Twist” .

Twisting the night away at CYT Portland.

Twisting the night away at CYT Portland.

All in all, the evening was a complete success! Check out all the pics on CYT Portland’s Facebook Page and stay tuned for next year’s theme…”

Groovy! Thanks for keeping the peace, love, & CYT joy alive in Portland!

EXPO “BONUS” Fun in the San Diego Sun!

SAVE THE DATES! For those of you who haven’t heard, the 2015 CYT EXPO is happening June 21st-24th in beautiful San Diego, California! There are an insane amount of EXPO activities for students ages 12-18 and adults, as well as bonus events that will make your San Diego stay the most memorable trip of the year. Official EXPO registration opens April 1st, 2015. But check out these five BONUS events surrounding EXPO that you can look forward to during your stay in San Diego.


JUNE 19th, 2015 – CYT PROM – “One Short Night in the Emerald City”
If you’ll be in town a couple days before EXPO, join CYT San Diego for the biggest dance of the year! They are inviting students from all affiliates to attend their annual CYT Prom.
WHO: Open to all CYT students ages 13 – 18 (do not need to be registered for EXPO)
WHEN: Friday, June 19th, 7:30pm – 10:30pm
WHERE: Moniker Warehouse in Downtown San Diego
REGISTRATION / FEE: $25. Get your tickets HERE
RESTRICTIONS: All CYT students, ages 13 – 18, from across the country are invited!



James Eckhouse

James Eckhouse

Sign up today for this limited availability master class taught by long-term Actor/Educator, James Eckhouse and Playwright/Director/Actor, Keliher Walsh. During this 2 hour Master Acting Class for students ages 15-21, you’ll receive dedicated attention to help hone your craft with the guidance of professionals. This unique Acting Master Class will be held at the San Diego Resort and Spa Hotel immediately before the EXPO begins. Only 30 spots available, so sign up beginning 4/1/15 before this class fills up!
WHO: Open to anyone ages 15 – 21 (do not need to be registered for EXPO)
WHEN: Sunday, June 21st 3pm – 5pm
WHERE: San Diego Resort & Spa
REGISTRATION / FEE: $75. Registration for this event opens 4/1/2015 at expo.cyt.org
RESTRICTIONS: Only 30 spots available!


This is the EXPO kick-off party, but we’re inviting all CYT affiliates, students, parents, etc. of all ages to join this massive CYT get together! Cost is only $5 for food, and also s’mores once the sun goes down. The location is right next door (walking distance) from the hotel where EXPO will take place. Don’t miss it!
WHO: Open to everyone! (do not need to be registered for EXPO)
WHEN: Sunday, June 21st at Dinner time (exact time TBD)
WHERE: Beautiful park next to the San Diego Resort & Spa
REGISTRATION / FEE: $6 for dinner and s’mores bonfire on the bay! Registration for this event opens 4/1/2015 expo.cyt.org.
RESTRICTIONS: None! This event is open to all.


Did you know that San Diego Christian College offers a program that will raise up future CYT leaders? Want to learn more about SDCC and their Musical Theater Program? Join us at 10am on Thursday June 26th for a free college campus tour specifically for CYT Kids! To reserve your spot contact Amanda Hyden (SDCC Theater Admin) at amanda.graham@sdcc.edu.


Camp Awesome(1)-1Stay a few days after the EXPO with a friend or host family so you can attend CYT San Diego’s unique, overnight summer camp for teens! For more info on getting connected to a host family for the time between EXPO & camp, email Linda Wolfe at Camps@cytsandiego.org.
WHO: All teens ages 13 – 18
WHEN: Sunday, June 28th – Friday, July 3rd 2015
WHERE: Pine Valley Bible Conference Center
REGISTRATION / FEE: $400 Click HERE for details.
RESTRICTIONS: All are welcome, as long as they are between the ages of 13 – 18

Here’s a video from CYT San Diego, inviting YOU to join in the fun this summer!

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.

Surprise Homecoming at CYT San Diego

At CYT, we do become each other’s extended family! However, we know that we can’t replace the real thing. Recently, a CYT San Diego family, enjoyed the thrill of a surprise reunion with their dad/husband upon his return from serving overseas as part of our U.S. Military. Watch the sweet video below. Then, dry you eyes and read the touching interviews describing how this joyful reunion came to be on a CYT stage and how CYT helped this family keep their chins up while their soldier was deployed.

Thank you to Vittoria Allen from CYT San Diego for this precious story!

Q&A with Erin Kelly, CYT South County Area Coordinator

Q: How long have the Stellas been doing (CYT San Diego) South County CYT?

A: The Stellas started doing CYT around 5 years ago. I met them when I directed my first show in South County, Seussical. Our girl’s (both Madi and Maddie) started Wiggles together when they were 4 and 5. They were best friends since day one and so were Rachel and I, really.

Q: When did Rob get in touch with you to plan this surprise? What was
your reaction?

A: Rob contacted me about two weeks prior to the BIG surprise. He said I’m coming home for a week, on opening night, and asked me to help orchestrate a fun surprise for his family. I was BEYOND thrilled of course. And I LOVE surprises. I would have to say we pulled off the best surprise yet.

Q: We see videos of military personnel reuniting with / surprising their family in the media, but what was it like being a part of planning it and seeing it happen in person?
A: It was extremely emotional and exciting! The Stellas are our best friends and seeing the kids and Rachel react was a moment I will treasure and never forget. That created a memory for our entire CYT family.

Rob & Justin Stella celebrate their reunion with a Mulan photo op!

Q: What is your favorite thing about the Stella family?
A: They are CRAZY! But in the best way. You know….that good kind of crazy that always keeps you on your toes and totally wondering what they will do next. They make me laugh like no one else. And that alone would be my favorite thing about them, but they are so much more than humorous. They are the most genuine, kind, and loving family you would ever meet. It is an honor to have them in SoCo CYT and an even bigger honor to have them in my family’s life. I just love them to the moon and back. Families like this one are the heart and driving force of CYT and what we are all about.

Q&A with Rob and Rachel Stella
Q: Rob, when were you deployed?

A: December 1st, 2014 to Bahrain for 12-13 Months

Q: How are you able to be home for the week?

A: I was sent to the U.S. to attend a school in Mississippi and was afforded a week of leave prior to so I could surprise the family.

Miss Maddie Stella welcomes her daddy, Rob, back from overseas.

Q: Rob, tell us about your family’s reaction!

A: My heart melted when I saw my family’s reactions.  Made it all worthwhile.  Rachel said later how sad she was that our oldest son, Dylan, was not here since he just left for a camp for the weekend.  I told her I had the Pastor taking the kids to camp bring him to lunch and I surprised him there. Best part is Rachel dropped Dylan off and picked him up but never knew any different.  I was hiding across the street until she left.

Rob & Rachel Stella.

Q: Rachel, were you expecting this at all?
A: First off, kudos to Erin and Rob. I was 100% not expecting something like this. Rob has been deployed several times and has never done anything like this. This is also a hard one for us as it’s a lot longer than past deployments. Plus, the kids are older and it seems to get harder for them the older they get.

Q: How has CYT helped your family during deployments?

A: Actually, CYT blessed us for the first time, in a great way, 5 years ago. Rob was deployed to Afghanistan and our son, Justin, was having a hard time with the separation. Honestly, though I tried not to show it, deployment was hard for me at times too. It was hard to not think about him being in danger all the time. This is where CYT saved us. Justin started spring classes and auditioned for Narnia. The CYT environment was just what we needed. My little boy was welcomed into the group like a long lost little brother. I had never experienced anything like it. He came alive. Truly. It was magic to watch. The director, Brad Davis, was so great with him too! He let him be himself and never lost patience with him. We will forever be grateful for that. As for me, CYT became my support system. The other parents were so nice and always willing to guide me through the process. They were also so great with my other two kids. No one complained when I had to bring my little one to the theater. In fact, they doted on her. That little girl grew up backstage and it’s so cool to see her ON the stage now. I looked forward to the time we would spend at the theater. I still do! Time flew by. Rob returned a day after the show closed. He tried desperately to get there for the show but it just didn’t work out. But when that next show came, he jumped in full force and has been a part of every show since. Our oldest son, Dylan has also crewed a few shows. We love that our whole family can be involved in something like this. Rob once told me he was afraid that someday the kids would look back and be sad about all the time their dad was gone. I told him that if they have so much fun when they are together, they won’t remember all the time he was gone. CYT will always be a big part of our happy memories!

Bravo, Stella Family! We all send you a standing ovation!