We Are CYT: Family Across the Nation

In late August, on the same weekend as auditions for their fall show, CYT Houston families evacuated their homes when Hurricane Harvey flooded their city. Their homes were damaged, possessions lost, and lives were changed. But during their time of need, families from CYT Baton Rouge, LafayetteFront Range, New York City, Waco, and Chicago all mailed letters, made donations, and sent gift cards to CYT Houston to help. 

Less than two months later, the families are back in their homes but things have still not completely returned to normal. However, the students are back at classes and rehearsals, and the CYT Houston families are working hard to put on one of their fall shows, Shrek the Musical Jr.But they’re not doing it alone. Shrek is coming together with a little help from their neighbor, CYT Lafayette!

This weekend, on October 8, CYT Lafayette closed their own production of Shrek the Musical Jr.! Instead of tearing down the set or putting it into storage, it’s getting put to good use and sent over to CYT Houston for their production! Check out what Gerald B., the CYT Lafayette Executive Director, has to share!

“First of all it was a real privilege to have Houston visit our show and are honored that we could give back to the CYT affiliate that was the inspiration to start CYT Lafayette 9 years ago!

Many people know how devastating the flood was in Louisiana last year and how hard it was on our families and the community. The support we received from the CYT affiliates was over whelming so it was an easy decision to jump in and help. Their dads have had little time to focus on CYT with so many people needing help with their homes. It’s the least we could do to help support them.

Two Houston Dads (Ari and Richard) drove to Lafayette with the truck and arrived in Lafayette around 2:30. They got to watch the show then started load out with our dads around 5:30. The sets were a little two large for the truck so they spent an hour or so making as much fit as possible. We wrapped up around 8pm and sent them on their way. The staff also agreed to help with expenses for their trip so we included a gift card for $450.

Praying they have a great show! Blessings from Lafayette!

We are CYT!”

CYT Fredericksburg Hits a Home Run!

Hey guys, check this out! CYT Fredericksburg’s Marketing and Publicity Director Allison Mayberry shared this awesome news with us and we couldn’t keep it to ourselves!

fred 2

“CYT Fredericksburg, along with our Season Sponsor, SimVentions, brought over 300 people to the Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball game 2 weeks ago and got to sing ‘God Bless America’ during the 7th inning. Not only was it a great night of fellowship, hot dogs, peanuts, fireworks and baseball, but CYT raised $1000.00 from selling the baseball tickets! WAY TO GO!” – Allison MayberryFredCongratulations, CYT Fred! Keep up the good work, we can’t wait to see what you do next!

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!

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.

CYT Alum, Daniel Kendrick, at the 2015 Golden Globes


At CYT, nobody celebrates the success & talents of our kids like their own parents. They pack the audience, wrangle backstage, chauffeur to rehearsals, & applaud like crazy when it’s all said & done. Turns out, just because our kids grow up & graduate from CYT, that doesn’t mean their parents stop applauding…or that we stop celebrating!

Recently, one such CYT parent, Kathy Kendrick, mentioned that her son, Daniel, was working in LA & Brazil and recently attended the 2015 Golden Globes! Say what?! We instantly reached out to Daniel to see if he’d be willing to let us feature him in an upcoming CYT blog post & he joyfully replied, “Thank you for reaching out! I would LOVE to be featured.” Turns out, not only is Daniel an exuberant & talented CYT alum, he’s also quite a funny guy! Enjoy out our Q&A with Daniel Stellan Kendrick (psst, he captioned the photos, too):

What was your involvement with CYT? 

I was in CYT from my first Our Gang Class in 1995 until my last show, (CYT San Diego) Central’s OLIVER! in 2008. I went to camp twice, competed in Improvathon once, and ate many a Denny’s meal with CYT. It was my main scene growing up, and I met many lifelong friends during my years at CYT. In the end, I think I was in 15 shows.

Daniel Kendrick & Becca Downing as Mr. & Mrs. Sowerberry in CYT San Diego, Central's Oliver! (Winter, 2008)

Daniel Kendrick & Becca Downing as Mr. & Mrs. Sowerberry in CYT San Diego, Central’s Oliver! (Winter, 2008)

Which CYT affiliate/area did you perform or work with?

SOCO (CYT San Diego, South County) was my home base. I did most of my shows there, starting with THE HOBBIT in 2003. I also dabbled in (CYT San Diego) East County and (CYT San Diego) Central, and made some awesome friends in those areas too!

the poster for South County's CALIFORNIA GOLD ( Spring, 2005). Also featured ( clockwise from top left) are  Mallory Johnson, Tiffanie Tellez, Tyler Payton, and Michael Covington

The promo poster for CYT San Diego, South County’s California Gold (Spring, 2005). Also featured (clockwise from top left) are Mallory Johnson, Tiffanie Tellez, Tyler Payton, and Michael Covington

Please, tell us about what you’re doing in LA?

I’m a literary manager at Chatrone LLC, a production company for Film & TV. A literary manager is very similar to a talent agent, but we get to wear jeans. I represent writers, directors, and artists in the animation industry. Some of my clients have worked on Spongebob, Robot Chicken, and Futurama. It’s tons of fun!!

(Click here to check out Daniel’s webinar, which he hosted, titled, “Writing for Animation; What ACME Doesn’t Tell You…”.)

Your proud mama tells us that you were involved with the Golden Globe nominated animated feature film, The Book of Life. What was your involvement?

Chatrone LLC produced The Book of Life, along with Guilermo Del Toro and Reel FX. When I first came to Chatrone, I was an executive assistant to the producers on the film. It’s a really incredible experience to see a film go through the phases of production all the way into theaters!

We also hear that you actually got to attend the Golden Globes! That must have been awesome! What was it like?

It was AMAZING! My amazing boss, Carina, took me as her guest since The Book of Life was nominated. To sit there in the audience among other executives from all over town, rooting for a film I was involved with, was a lifelong goal realized. It was surreal and awe inspiring; not to mention a total blast and a good reason to put on a tuxedo!!

Any good stories from the Globes you’d like to share with us?

The hor’s deurves were delicious, the women beautiful, and the celebrities clumsy.  Particularly, the persimmon salad was delish. I recommend it.

What about the after-parties?

Okay, okay… this time, I got one for ya! So I was at the Warner Bros after party — just standing there — talking to my bosses and some D-list celebrity or something. And I feel a hand grasp my left elbow. I turn to face the culpit. And — woe-is-me— I find myself gazing into the blazing blue eyes of a nightmare dressed like a daydream. Taylor Swift. Making eye contact with me. ME! And Lorde is standing right behind her. We gaze deeply into each other’s eyes; our souls intertwine for a brief second. She parts her sweet, scarlet lips, and she says, “Excuse me, we’re trying to get to my friend.” She then shoves me out of the way and keeps talking to Lorde. It was a brief interlude in my career, but I like to think that in that singular moment, we lived a thousand lifetimes of love and passion.

Indeed, you did! Now, please tell us about Gaby Estrella, the show you are working on in Brazil. 

Gaby Estrella is a Brazilian Telenovela that my boss, Carina Schulze created. It’s a fun little musical show about a girl from Rio who moves to the country and rediscovers her heritage and musical roots. It’s a total hoot, and a huge hit in Brazil. Hasn’t really made it’s way stateside yet, but the soundtrack is on itunes! It’s been nominated for an Emmy too! We find out next week about that one!

And, how did you wind up working in Brazil?!

I ended up working in Brazil with Chatrone mostly through UCLA. When I was a senior at UCLA, I thought to myself, “Gee, I ought to get ready to graduate and find a job.” So I put on some pants, went outside, and found an internship listing at Chatrone. I worked there for about three months, and then ended up at ICM, a major talent agency in Century City. After 6 months at ICM, I graduated, began to search for a job, and landed an executive assistant position at Chatrone! It’s been a lot of fun since. I’ve learned Portuguese, traveled to Rio & Sao Paulo, and immersed myself in Brazilian culture!

Daniel as Will Scarlet in SOCO's Robin Hood (Spring, 2004). CYT makes it easy to meet groupies.

Daniel as Will Scarlet in SOCO’s Robin Hood (Spring, 2004). “CYT makes it easy to meet (devoted fans).”

Many of our CYT kids would like to work in LA. What advice to you have for them about bridging that gap?

For myself, I think that attending UCLA really helped smooth that transition. When you move to a new city, everything is scary. All of your friends are back home, it’s all unfamiliar, etc. But going to college in the city in which you would like to work, allows you to integrate into a social system that facilitates friends and a social network. So I would say go to college or school here.

Another tip is that internships are the gateway into the industry. Do an internship for 3 months in 3 different companies, kick butt for them, and impress them. You’d be surprised how much people like helping young up-and-comers out. Everyone works for free for a while to get their foot in the door, so be prepared for that.

Daniel as The Mad Hatter in central's ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Fall, 2007).

Daniel as The Mad Hatter in CYT San Diego Central’s Alice in Wonderland  (Fall, 2007).

Was there something in particular about your CYT experience that has helped you in your current career?

CYT was an invaluable training tool for me growing up. I attribute almost all of my creative pedigree to CYT. The amazing people in CYT taught me creative taste, confidence, and salesmanship. I would not be where I am or who I am without CYT.

 me at teen camp 2008 lookin' fly.

“Me at teen camp, 2008, lookin’ fly.”

In your opinion, what makes CYT unique?

What makes CYT unique is that it is they are the largest Children’s theater company in the world, and in my opinion, the best. When you have such a large pool of talent from all over the world coming together to create and perform amazing shows, the enhance each other and strengthen one another’s talents. CYT trains successful entertainers, and people know that.

My mother's collected assortment of statuettes from my illustrious CYT career.

“My mother’s collected assortment of statuettes from my illustrious CYT career.”

What is your favorite CYT memory?

OH MAN. I don’t think I could pick just one. Hm… alas! There were so many fun nights that I recall so fondly. Some of my favorite shows: The Hobbit, The Jungle Book (in South County), Oliver!, Once Upon a Mattress, and so many more! Some great experiences at camp too. I was also a fan of the skit game at camp.

Though most of my favorite memories ended up with me getting into trouble, so I probably should not go into those details. Haha.

Thanks, for the info & laughs Daniel! We think you’re golden.

CYT Student Reflection: Nicole McCartney

Recently, CYT Founders, Sheryl & Paul Russell, shared the following letter they received from a grateful CYT Santa Cruz student named Nicole McCartney. Enjoy Nicole’s letter reprinted below.

Santa Cruz CYTer, Nicole McCartney enjoying the surf & the CYT spirit.

Santa Cruz CYTer, Nicole McCartney, enjoying the surf & the CYT spirit.

Dear Sheryl and Paul Russell,
My name is Nicole McCartney, and I am in eighth grade at Scotts Valley Middle School. I want to thank you and tell you how much CYT has greatly impacted my life.

I started CYT Santa Cruz about a year ago and was feeling a bit nervous. Within hours, I had already made so many friends that I still continue to laugh with today. The welcoming spirit at CYT has gotten me through so many rough times, and I appreciate how CYT has not just helped me grow in musical theatre, but taught me how to be a better leader and friend to others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you understand how much CYT has changed many lives, including mine. I would love to hear back from you both to find out how CYT has inspired you the most. Once again, thank you so much for everything you have done at CYT and continue to inspire more lives every day.

Nicole McCartney

Thanks for your testimony, Nicole! Keep enjoying that awesome CYT spirit & inspiring others to do the same.