Support CYT Fredericksburg in The 2015 Community Give

Please support CYT Fredericksburg and the 154 additional nonprofits that are participating in The Community Give 2015 on May 5 (hey, that’s tomorrow!). The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock Region’s second 24-hour multi-charity online giving marathon begins at 12 a.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m.

CYT Fredericksburg originally posted the following blurb on their Facebook page:

The Community Give is about working together for a single day, celebrating our spirit of generosity and making a significant and heartfelt impact on each of the lives touched by the hard-working nonprofit organizations that affect so many areas of our lives and community. The Community Give is a 24-hour day of giving on Tuesday May 5, 2015 from 12:00 a.m. until midnight. It is a day when everyone in our region is asked to make a donation and show support for the local nonprofit organizations that positively impact our lives every day. CYT Fredericksburg is proud to be a apart of this event.

Last year nearly 5,000 people gave nearly $450,000, Sponsors provided $100,000 in prizes, and EVERY nonprofit received a donation! The Community Give raised a stunning $544,851 for area nonprofits – the most raised in a single day!

The Community Give wants to make history…again! This year we have a new target – let’s reach 7,500 people and raise $750,000!

Give to CYT Fredericksburg at… on May 5th!

We’re praying for your success, CYT Fred! Check out their Facebook page for more inspiring videos. 

2014 CYT Improvathon Comes to a Surprising Finish…a Wedding!

The soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Norris

The soon to be Mr. & Mrs. Norris

Improvathon is all about the unexpected. Last year, CYTer, Hayley Sharpe from CYT Kansas City, got something really unexpected: her future spouse! Enjoy her darling letter to our CYT founders (Paul & Sheryl Russell), sharing her good news:

Hi there CYT Family!
My name is Hayley Sharpe, and this year I’m one of the coaches for CYT Kansas City’s Improv team.

I wanted to share my story with both of you. Last year at Improvathon, I was on the Kansas City team, House of Shards. It was my last year as a CYT student and I was just going to improvathon because I loved to perform and I loved CYT. At the final performance, Paul got up and said something along the lines of, “Careful, you might meet your husband or wife here!” I immediately thought, no way. There’s absolutely no way I’d meet mine here.

Hayley & Bailey competing head to head at Improvathon 2014.

Hayley & Bailey competing head to head at Improvathon 2014.

But then I met a boy from CYT Riverside named Bailey Norris. Over the past year he and I not only kept in contact, he eventually moved to Kansas City to be with me through my hip surgeries (I recently had a hip replacement due to a birth defect in my hips) and now we are engaged to be married!



We will both be at Improvathon in San Diego (at EXPO 2015) this year as an engaged couple, and we’ll be married August 22!

I wanted to thank you for starting this wonderful organization that led me closer to God and to my best friend, and man of my dreams.

I hope to see you all in San Diego!
Thanks and God Bless,
Soon to be Mrs. Norris

Once upon a time, two kids competed at CYT Improvathon...

Once upon a time, two kids competed at CYT Improvathon…

Congratulations Bailey & Hayley! May God continue to bless your union with peace, joy, & laughter! Now THAT’s why you should go to EXPO!

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Excited About HYPE at the 2015 Expo


Thanks to National HYPE Director, Lydia Kinne, for the following info:

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Excited About HYPE at 2015 EXPO:

1. You will probably find your new best friend there.
Just ask Shannon Sullivan and TJ Simms who found each other & became “new best friends” at Expo 2014! No, but seriously – between late-night dance parties, teamwork challenges in half an hour or less, heart to heart convos, and early morning worship sessions, how can you NOT bond with someone who’s just as crazy as you??

2. You get to network.
I’m not referring to either the business elite scene or the dating scene here – I’m referring to you and all your fellow Vice Presidents from across the country (or Secretaries, Fundraisers, or other job you might have in HYPE) sitting down together and sharing your brilliant ideas with each other. This is THE best time to share with each other what works, what you’re struggling with in your area, and what you want to grow in. Come with a notebook ready to fill with ideas!

3. You get to put leadership in action.
This year’s Leadership Challenge at the Expo … well, your team will want to go big or go home, that’s all I can say! It will require courage, brains, heart, and – yes, hominess. You want to know more? Better come to Expo to find out!

4. You will hear from really cool guest speakers & workshop leaders
You will get to hear from specialty speakers from Lafayette, Indy, San Diego, and Spokane – people who are stoked about student leadership and will help you make more of a difference in your community!

5. You will learn more about …
… leading worship at CYT
… what true servant leadership looks like
… how to manage your time wisely, balancing HYPE with the rest of your life
… how to be an active listener
… how to break through the boundaries of cliques at CYT


6. Your own HYPE group will grow in unity.
There’s something about traveling somewhere with a group of people that makes them automatically grow closer. Maybe it’s the late-night laughing in hotel rooms … maybe it’s the fresh California air … maybe it’s just the magical aura that the CYT Expo exudes, but I predict your group will leave closer than it came.

7. You will see besties you’ve made at past Expos.
The CYT Expo is kind of like a giant family reunion where we get to reunite with people we only see once a year. And even if you’ve never been, you quickly come to find out that people from CYT are all alike … we’re all awkwardly closer than family no matter what part of the country we come from!

8. You get a chance to troubleshoot and get questions answered.
Is there something that your HYPE group seems to struggle with? Is there an area you feel like your group could become better at? The CYT Expo is the time to talk with HYPE leaders and get those questions answered! Set up lunch chat times with National HYPE Director, Lydia Kinne, or other HYPE Advisers from around the country to talk through ways your HYPE can grow!

9. You get to help formulate the vision for HYPE National for the 2015-16 Season.
A student leadership program should be driven by those in the program itself. There is some vision that comes from the National Director, and then there’s a lot of vision that comes from the students. Get ready to let your voice be heard at the Expo and share what you think HYPE should be doing next year across the country!

10. You will get very little sleep … and it will be completely worth it.
We only have three days to pack in all this and more … so be prepared to be a little exhausted! But also be prepared to make memories, stand up & take the charge of leadership, sing, dance, act, laugh, be vulnerable & share, and leave a better person than you came. You will not regret coming.


For more info on HYPE, please email Lydia at:

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

4.7.15_NAMM post

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

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: 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.

CYT_Portland_Groovy_At the entrance 2015

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!