Act. Sing. Dance. Live. at EXPO 2016

ACT. SING. DANCE. LIVE.
These four words sum up the focus of CYT. At this year’s EXPO all registered students will participate in master classes focusing on these elements. These talented artists are all qualified educators, who believe in passing on their knowledge of their craft. The workshops will explore not only the practices of Acting, Singing, and Dancing, but also how the tools learned through these crafts translate to living a God-fueled life.

So sign up today, and be ready to learn, play, and grow in these incredible master classes. Read below to learn more about these teaching artists!

Heather LaForge, Ph.D.

heather

Act
Heather LaForge (CYT Inc. Director of Operations) comes to us from Northern California where she was the Artistic Director of CYT Santa Cruz. Prior to moving up north in 2009, Heather received her Ph.D. in Theatre from UC San Diego. During college and graduate school, Heather honed her acting and directing skills. She’s directed a variety of plays and musicals, specializing in character-driven dramas. She is passionate about educating students about technique in acting, focusing on physicality and voice work to create meaningful text-based characters. Heather makes her home in San Diego with her husband and two young daughters.

J. Mark McVey

mcveySing
J. Mark McVey made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables after having won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor while in DC. The first American to perform Valjean in London’s West End, J. Mark also reprised the role with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to sold out crowds at the Hollywood Bowl and once again in the 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Miserables where he won the Ovation Award and the Broadway.com Award on his way to eclipsing more than 3,200 performances in the worlds favorite musical Les Miserables. J. Mark McVey made his Carnegie Hall Debut with Mr. Marvin Hamlisch and continues to perform with numerous symphonies around the country and the world. J. Mark’s Television credits include America’s Got Talent and Days Of Our Lives. Mark made his PBS Debut with the Boston Pops and followed that performance with the PBS Christmas Special for the U.S. Military Troupes where he was featured with Marvin Hamlisch and The National Symphony Orchestra. Mark also appeared in the PBS Special ‘A Tale of Two Cities in Concert.’ Other Broadway, NY and regional theatre credits include; The Who’s Tommy, The Best Little Whore House Goes Public, Chess, Carousel, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Seven Brides, Show Boat, Hey Love, A Helluva Town, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, Rocket Boys and many more. J. Mark McVey earned a Double Platinum record for his participation on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra recording of ‘The Lost Christmas Eve’. He also has 3 solo CD’s: “Broadway and Beyond” “If You Really Knew Me” and “One Among Few”, as well as a Family Christmas CD. Mark continues to record having a new project due out this year. Mark’s greatest achievements are his 2 beautiful daughters, Grace and Kylie, a collaborative effort with God and his incredible wife, actress and singer, Mrs. Christy Tarr-McVey. Mark thanks God for his gifts, his family for their love and you, for supporting the arts!

Colleen Kollar Smith

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dance
A native of north San Diego county, Colleen is proud to be the Executive Director at San Diego Musical Theater. Prior to SDMT, she served as Director of Organizational Advancement at New Village Arts and before that as Director of Development and a member of the resident acting ensemble and resident choreographer at Lamb’s Players Theatre. Achievements include: 100 Hours of Stories – in which Lamb’s broke the Guinness World Record for Longest Marathon Theatrical Performance and raised $200,000; and co-creating Mixtape, San Diego’s longest running home-grown musical, which ran for 3 years. Colleen’s work has been seen at Cygnet Theatre, Moonlight Stage Productions, Intrepid Shakespeare, and La Jolla Playhouse. After earning a BA in Drama from UC Irvine, Colleen started her career as an intern at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. She holds an MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of San Diego and is an inaugural recipient of the Galinson Fellowship with AFP San Diego. She makes her home in Oceanside with her husband, local playwright and actor Lance Arthur Smith, and their two daughters, Scottie and Pepper.

EXPO 2016 – Invite from Paul Russell

I just finished directing You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown at San Diego Christian College. (The college where CYT students get a $5000 scholarship just for being a CYT student!) It was an amazing experience. Most of the leads in the show are from CYTs across the country and are now CYT teachers, directors, and musical directors for CYT San Diego. It’s amazing to see God raising up a new generation of students who are committed to using the arts as a means of reaching the world for Jesus.

Cast

There is a line from the musical Snoopy that is our theme for EXPO 2016: If just one person believes in you… Anything CAN happen if we believe in each other and in the power of our Lord to reach our communities. With the power of theater in a God-centered environment, miracles can happen!

That is what CYT is all about! And that’s what CYT EXPO 2016 is all about – seeing and hearing the miracles of CYT.

EXPO is about how we can help change the world to be a better place by using one of the most powerful methods known to man – THEATER!

EXPO is about coming to together as believers and worshiping with the most exciting, motivated, creative, and crazy people on the planet.

expo

EXPO is about taking amazing, practical workshops on how we as CYT students, staff, and artistic teams can be the most effective servants of God.

EXPO is about having outstanding motivational speakers that challenge us, encourage us, and excite us to do our jobs better and more effectively.

EXPO is about laughing your heads off by watching some of the funniest, brightest, and creative young people do their thing at the national Improvathon. It’s fun, silly, and exciting and it only happens once a year!

improv2

 

EXPO is about being with people who are like minded and sharing ideas that actually work in the field of children’s theater. We explore how to build a program, sell more tickets, grow classes, recruit outstanding teachers, cost saving ways to produce shows, and integrating our faith into our mission.

EXPO is about having the time of your life and enjoying fun in the sun experiences like eating by the bay, playing volleyball, swimming, watching the sunset and fireworks, and hanging around the bonfire. Don’t forget that before or after the EXPO, you can experience local San Diego traditions like water skiing, sailing, the beach, surfing, Sea World, Old Town, Downtown Gaslamp Quarters, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Mexico, and so much more!

exposun

EXPO is about rubbing shoulders and having meaningful conversations with other successful CYT leaders who can partnership, mentor, train, and encourage us to reach our community, families, and students.

EXPO is about hearing the miracles of what God is doing around the world in the lives of children, parents, and communities. These touching stories is why we do what we do and will be a highlight of your year.

EXPO is the one place where over 450 people come together and party, play, strategize and work together to make a difference in the world. If there is one thing that you do this year – make sure it is CYT EXPO.

Together we can believe in each other . . . to produce the best in children’s theater in a Judeo-Christian environment!

Consider this your invitation from Sheryl and myself. See you at the EXPO!

Paul Russell

P.S. Sheryl and I would love to sit down with each one of you and hear what God is doing in your area!

exposhark

EXPO 2016’s Keynote Speaker is… J. Mark McVey!

We are thrilled to announce EXPO 2016‘s Keynote Speaker, J. Mark McVey! Mark is a seasoned performer and Christian speaker. Read below to learn more about Mark and what he plans to bring to us this year at EXPO!

J.Mark McVey as Jean Valjean in Les Mis

J.Mark McVey as Jean Valjean in Les Mis

Who is J.Mark McVey, you ask? The question is…who ISN’T he? I mean…besides infamous prisoner 24601…

J. Mark McVey made his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables after having won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Actor while in DC.  The first American to perform Valjean in London’s West End, J. Mark also reprised the role with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to sold out crowds at the Hollywood Bowl and once again in the 25th Anniversary Tour of Les Miserables where he won the Ovation Award and the Broadway.com Award on his way to eclipsing more than 3,200 performances in the worlds favorite musical Les Miserables.

Photos courtesy of jmarkmcvey.com

J. Mark McVey onstage as JVJ in Les Mis. Photos courtesy of jmarkmcvey.com

J. Mark McVey made his Carnegie Hall Debut with Mr. Marvin Hamlisch and continues to perform with numerous symphonies around the country and the world. J. Mark’s Television credits include America’s Got Talent and Days Of Our Lives.  Mark made his PBS Debut with the Boston Pops and followed that performance with the PBS Christmas Special for the U.S. Military Troupes where he was featured with Marvin Hamlisch and The National Symphony Orchestra.  Mark also appeared in the PBS Special  ‘A Tale of Two Cities in Concert.’  Other Broadway, NY and regional theatre credits include; The Who’s Tommy, The Best Little Whore House Goes Public, Chess, Carousel, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Seven Brides, Show Boat, Hey Love, A Helluva Town, Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, Rocket Boys and many more. J. Mark McVey earned a Double Platinum record for his participation on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra recording of ‘The Lost Christmas Eve’.  He also has 3 solo CD’s: “Broadway and Beyond” “If You Really Knew Me” and “One Among Few”, as well as a Family Christmas CD.  Mark continues to record having a new project due out this year.  Mark’s greatest achievements are his 2 beautiful daughters, Grace and Kylie, a collaborative effort with God and his incredible wife, actress and singer, Mrs. Christy Tarr-McVey. Mark thanks God for his gifts, his family for their love and you, for supporting the arts!

J. Mark McVey. Photo courtesy of jmarkmcvey.com

J. Mark McVey. Photo courtesy of jmarkmcvey.com

We asked Mark to share with us some thoughts about our 2016 CYT Theme Verse, EXPO, & his master class: 

Without giving away your keynote, what are you looking forward to sharing about at CYT’s EXPO?
That is a bit of a challenge, but, just because most Christians know that God is the source of all gifts doesn’t automatically mean they know how to find or recognize their special gifts.  So, I think I will spend some time exploring that process.

Our theme verse for the conference is Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” How has this verse been meaningful in your life?
I like this verse because it sums it all up for believers.  It helps me focus my life on the infinite power of my creator, while reminding me of all the players on the team and the necessary confidence that I am an integral part.

Students will get an opportunity to participate in a master class with you. What should they expect to learn?
I will probably spend a bit of time teaching a breathing technique and a short stretch and vocal warm up.  Then I want students to know how to critique their peers and when it is appropriate, so, I want to show that through demonstration.  Which means I will need some volunteers.

Finally, what one piece of advice would you give to young performers?
Show business is a tough business!  If you want to become a professional actor/singer, or performer of any kind really, it will take more than desire.  You will face constant rejection.  You need to know who you are, what you can and will do and have an insatiable desire to learn.

Thanks, Mark! We can’t wait to play in the sun with you at EXPO 2016! To read more about Mark, check out his website here


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Don’t miss out on Mark’s Keynote Speech, his master class, or any other EXPO 2016 awesomeness! Register for EXPO 2016 here!

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.

#cytlove

#cytlove

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. 

Peace in the Process

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

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Peace, CYT Fred!

 

 

Through CYT I have been able to feel God’s presence in my life. Thought out the whole process of Mary Poppins (our Fall show) one of the things we turned to a lot was prayer. Anytime we didn’t know how to handle a situation we prayed; and this showed me that there is nothing we can’t do without God!

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Asking for blessing.

It was very nerve wracking that we never did a full run through until the third day of tech week and many thought “how would this ever come together”? After all the worrying and praying our show turned into a miracle that touched many people’s lives and is one of our best shows we’ve done. I truly believe that It was only by the grace of God that we pulled it off. At the end of this whole process It was beautiful to watch the cast and crew members pray on stage and over the seats of the auditorium on the last Sunday.

CYT friends!

CYT friends!

It was something that brought many to tears and in the end it brought us all closer together.

My CYT Story: My Heart is Full

The following story was submitted by Madison C. from CYT Lafayette for our 2016 My CYT Story Contest.

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Madison & friends enjoying CYT Lafayette.

My very first CYT show was Annie Jr. I was 10 years old and I remember my very first audition. I sang “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music and I remember being very nervous. That weekend I also got my first callback as an orphan.

CYT Celebration!

CYT Celebration!

During the years of being in CYT, my parents got a divorce and it was very difficult. Being in CYT, in a Christian environment, and being around wonderful friends really helped me get through it. Also being in CYT grew me closer to God and helped me form a relationship with him.

Shrek!

Shrek!

As I entered high school, I was able to join the high school girls group. This occurs every Friday night after rehearsal. This is a place where girls can talk about real deep topics that one may not feel comfortable talking about in a co-ed group. Being in this group as well as HYPE has given me a chance to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. These girls have helped me through so much and I couldn’t thank them enough for it.

My girls.

My girls.

Without CYT in my life, I would be bored on weekends, lacking friends, and I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. So thank you to all of the founders and staff in CYT for making my life and my heart as full as can be.

 

 

 

 


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. 

 

 

Do not let Anyone Look Down on You Because you are Young

The following story was submitted by Amanda H. from CYT Sacramento. for our 2016 My CYT Story Contest.

My Munchkins

My Munchkins

My whole life, I was different from everyone else. My parents were divorced when I was really young, my mom has been dealing with a rare form of cancer for 8 years, and my dad is a wounded war veteran. Wherever I was, I always felt as if I were an outcast. Every camp, every church, every school. The people around me constantly told that I was not beautiful, that no one cared about me, and that I could never be loved.

My first day at CYT was the initial workshop. At first, I was really nervous. I was scared that I was going to get the same treatment there as I did everywhere else. I left CYT that day with a huge smile on my face knowing that this company was different and that I was going to be apart of something special.

My little loves

My little loves

Through the next 4 years, I have been part of all 11 shows. I have met some of the greatest people and have experienced important life lessons and fun memories. Although I have friends who are my age, the people who inspire me to be the best I can be are my “Munchkins.” This group of little kids at CYT have changed my life in ways you could never imagine. When I had a discouraging week, I’d go to CYT on Friday and Saturday and have these kids run to me, yelling my name and jump on me. Because of the love I have received from them, because of these young girls telling me that they wanted to be just like me when they grew up, I vowed myself during my freshman year of high school that I would stop cutting myself. They told me how I was their role model. The last thing I wanted was for them when they were my age to be hurting themselves the way I was hurting myself. Here I am two years later and I have not cut myself since. They made me feel beautiful, and loved. They made me feel all the good things that I never believed about myself. I have a wall full of posters, cards, drawings and notes that I have been given over the years. I wake up every morning knowing there is someone who loves me just by looking at my wall.

MyCYT_AHansen

Working onstage with my little pals.

1 Timothy 4:12 said “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” These kids have set a more Christ-like example to me than kids my age or older. My munchkins make me want to be a better person. They make me want to live on the days when I only want to disappear. Because of these young kids, I have hope and I don’t feel the same as I did three years ago.


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.