What a CYT Director wants you to know about Auditions

The below post was written by Heather LaForge, CYT Inc’s multitasking Director of Operations and CYT San Diego show director. Enjoy!

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As each new CYT session approaches, students across the country scramble, frantically trying to choose that perfect audition song. Your mind brims with questions. Does it fit my vocal range? Does it align with the show? Can I demonstrate my acting abilities through it? Nerves run high and dreams get stressful as students await…dun-dun-dun…audition day.

Students, did you know that your directors are feeling many of the same emotions as you? Audition day is just as nerve-wracking to us! For months we are thinking, pondering, wondering how we will do this show. Scripts are read over and over again. Cuts are made. Question marks riddle the score. And all this is done in anticipation of just who will be cast in these roles.

You see, there’s so much work to be done in preparation for a show. But until we know who is cast, we can’t really visualize what the show will be. Then auditions arrive and we are greeted by you all. You all who are filled with nerves and excitement. You all who are praying desperately that God would calm you enough so you don’t get weird nervous shaky voice. You all who remind us so much of ourselves when we were your age but of whom we think they are so much braver, better, stronger than I ever was.

The secret, friends, is that while you are desperately trying to appear calm, so are we. The big smile we give you is real. Because we have had those dreams where literally no one shows up to auditions and we are left to cast our own gerbil as the role of Annie. So when you are there in front of us, with your brave voice, and strong character, and (hooray!) you can pirouette too, we are thrilled. Because with your talent and eagerness, and our guidance, this show will go on.

I’m looking forward to my auditions next week. Praying for all of you as you prep your songs across this country; and I’m praying for all you directors too.

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CYT alumni wins full-ride scholarship to Berklee School of Music

CYT San Diego alumni Jackie Foster’s life just changed. She is this year’s only winner of a 4-year, $150K scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Below is the full article from the San Diego Union Tribune that reinforces what a stellar performer she is and how much she deserves this amazing opportunity. Way to go, Jackie!

Jackie Foster performs in concert. The 18-year-old Poway resident has been singing for audiences since her CYT days she was 8 years old. (Photo credit: Steve Abruzzo)

Jackie Foster performs in concert. The 18-year-old Poway resident has been singing for audiences since her CYT days she was 8 years old. (Photo credit: Steve Abruzzo)

Jackie Foster is destined for a singing career, and the Berklee College of Music is willing to bet on it.

This summer, the 18-year-old Poway High graduate was awarded a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the private, contemporary music conservatory in Boston. The Berklee Lollapalooza Endowed Scholarship — worth more than $150,000 — is awarded to just one student each year, and faculty member Marty Walsh is convinced the school got it right with Foster.

“Jackie’s got a really bright future,” said Walsh, who first met Foster four years ago when she attended a rock music camp at Berklee. “She just has the whole thing going on. As a singer, she’s absolutely astounding, but she can also sing harmonies. She’s got charisma, the moves, the looks and a great attitude. When she walks in a room, she lights it up.”

For Foster, getting a full ride to her dream school is the “mind-blowing” next step of a journey that began 10 years ago, when she first sang in front of an audience.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she said. “When I step on stage with the lights and a mike in my hand, it’s pure joy. Being able to share with others the gift that I was given — that amazes me. That’s what I live for.”

Music was a big part of Foster’s childhood. Rock and jazz music was always on the stereo at home, and by the age of 5 she surprised her parents with her robust, note-perfect accompaniment to the cast album for “The Phantom of the Opera.” At 7, she started performing in musicals with Christian Youth Theatre and by age 8, she was taking private voice lessons in jazz, pop, rock, R&B and classical music. She also studied piano and guitar.

Jackie playing the role of Wendy in CYT San Diego's production of Peter Pan

Jackie playing the role of Wendy in CYT San Diego’s production of Peter Pan

At Poway High, she toured nationally in the school’s show choir and sang vocals for the student jazz band. Her singing skills helped her win the crown as Miss Poway in 2013. She has also tried out for NBC’s “The Voice” and Fox’s “American Idol” and has competed in numerous singing contests, including Poway’s Got Talent, RB Idol and the San Diego County Fair’s SuperStar. Win or lose, Foster said she appreciates any opportunity for constructive feedback.

Continue reading

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The amazing turnout for CYT Sacramento summer camps!

CYT Sacramento is new-ish, but it has been downright amazing to see what God has done there in just two short years.

Over the course of two weeks this summer, they had 197 campers attend their camps! That is more than triple the number of kids they had when they launched CYT Sacramento in 2012.

The video below shows footage from their two camps – Camp Side Story and Pirates & Princesses. Enjoy!

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CYT Phoenix is the winner of 4 National Youth Arts Awards!

Get ready to be thoroughly impressed.

CYT Phoenix was recently nominated for 14 National Youth Arts Awards (14!) and walked away winning 4 for their production of Once Upon a Mattress. We are so incredibly proud of their achievements!


Here is a full list of their nominations and awards:


Outstanding Production: Once Upon a Mattress
Lead Actor in a Musical: Steven Meythaler as Oliver Warbucks in Annie
Lead Actress in a Musical: Cadence Lamb as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie
Lead Actress (Junior Division): Jordan Mazarati as Annie in Annie
Supporting Actor in a Musical: Jacob Roberts as King Sextimus in Once Upon a Mattress
Supporting Actress in a Musical: Madi Fagerlie as Grace Farrell in Annie
Supporting Actress in a Musical: Cadence Lamb as Miss Hannigan in Annie
Supporting Actress in a Musical: Rebekah Patton as Larken in Once Upon a Mattress
Supporting Actress in a Musical: McKenna Roberts as Queen Aggravain in Once Upon a Mattress
Outstanding Ensemble: Annie
Direction: Tambra Lamb for Once Upon a Mattress


Lead Actor in a Musical: Cameron Kessner as Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress
Lead Actress in a Musical: Cadence Lamb as Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress
Outstanding Ensemble: Once Upon a Mattress
Choreography: Tambra Lamb for Once Upon a Mattress



A huge congratulations to CYT Phoenix for being awesome. Check out their upcoming lineup of shows…we’re not saying you could be part of a show that wins a National Youth Art Award, but we’re not not saying that either.

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CYT Atlanta teens spent a week on an island

Summer is coming to an end, and that means most of the CYT Summer Camps around the country have wrapped. But we can relive the super fun weeks through recap videos. Like the CYT Atlanta Teen Summer Camp (theme: Once On This Island Jr.) video that they posted on their Facebook page. Looks like they had a blast!

Honorable mention: CYT Atlanta’s Fall Classes just started – check ‘em out to register!

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CYT presents: Video Curriculum

Wanna learn a triple time step from the comfort of your living room? How about learn how a CYT director prepares for callbacks? Or a helpful game to hold the attention of students and keep them quiet?

Enter CYT Video Curriculum.

CYT thinks it’s important for everyone to have access to arts education, so they started a small library of dance, theater games, and director videos via a playlist on their YouTube channel.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 3.49.36 PM They want to develop more and more instructional videos so CYT students can work on their craft whenever they have free time. In the future, CYT plans to incorporate these videos with registration software so students can automatically have access to them when they register for a CYT class.

Making quality videos takes time and resources, and if you’d like to contribute toward making them possible, please donate at: http://donate.cyt.org

I’d write more but I’m going to go learn how to do the buffalo.

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CYT founders celebrate 40 years of marriage!

Paul & Sheryl Russell looking fancy at a recent CYT Portland gala

Paul & Sheryl Russell looking fancy at a recent CYT Portland gala

CYT founders Paul and Sheryl Russell celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on Sunday! That is a huge milestone that should be celebrated!

We thought we would rally everyone together to give them the best anniversary gift ever: a donation to CYT Inc. What better way to honor Paul and Sheryl than by helping to support the organization they built from the ground up?

A gift of support to CYT will act as a thank you for them pouring their effort and love into the organization that has changed all of our lives.

To make a gift, simply go to donate.cyt.org. When you make your gift you can also leave a message of congratulations for them in the “comments” box!

Let’s celebrate with Paul and Sheryl – 40 years is amazing!

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