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!

Unity at CYT NLC 2015

Special thank you to CYT Founder, Paul Russell, for the following blog post, which reflects on the recent CYT National Leadership Conference in Lafayette, LA.

CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell enjoying the southern hospitality at the 2015 CYT NLC.

CYT Founders, Paul & Sheryl Russell enjoying the southern hospitality at the 2015 CYT NLC.

Last week, CYT Affiliates from around the country came together for the National Leadership Conference (NLC). CYT is blessed to have some of the most outstanding leaders making a difference in the lives of over 18,000 young people every year. CYT Lafayette hosted the 2015 CYT NLC, and provided all the gracious southern hospitality one would expect. According to Tonja Rainey, the Artistic Director at CYT Baton Rouge, “This was the best Leadership Conference that I’ve ever been too.”

The 2015 CYT theme focuses on Unity. The entire event encouraged our leaders to join together, unified as CYT leadership. Check out the daily synopses below to find out just how that was accomplished at this year’s NLC:

Friday 1/23/2015

Pastor and CYT Inc. Board Member, Tom Kirkendall, kicked off the event with a message for ourleaders to Equip, Empower, Encourage and Encounter. He also introduced the 2015 CYT Theme of Unity, inspired by Romans 15: 5-7: 
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Next, Paul Russell gave the affiliates a new way to remember the CYT core values as well as to pray for all the CYTs across the country every time we see a penny.
CYT leadership of all generations! #NLC2015

CYT leadership of all generations! #NLC2015

Then, there was time for Affiliates to meet with other CYT leaders and share ideas, problems and highlights. The leaders enjoyed great times of prayer, laughter and heartache as we encouraged each other in our Mission.
 
Dinner was held at Chris’ Poboys and everyone got their fill of fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried okra, or fried chicken. It didn’t matter what you ordered, it came out fried! A great time of sharing and fellowship was had by all!
 
Saturday 1/24/2015
Saturday morning began with a workshop on suicide prevention from Dr. Theresa A. Wozencraft, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. After that somber, yet important and educational, session we were ready for some fun.
 
Keith Washington from the CYT Inc. Board explained the finances and how Affiliates’ fees were allocated and spent. Yes, even CYT Inc. has to raise money to exist.
 
Renee Kaufman (Creative Director, CYT Inc.) got everyone pumped up on the new products featured in the CYT Online Store. Between Renee and Heather LaForge (Director of Operations, CYT Inc.), we now all know everything there is to know about copyrights, use of logos, trademarks and how each affiliate can make more money by supporting the CYT Store.
 
Becca Wilds from CYT Indy did an outstanding workshop on HR. That’s right – HR! Go figure. How can anyone make HR interesting? Becca has a gift! She had the entire hall laughing out loud and applauding with wonderful information on Human Resources. No kidding – she received a standing ovation! We all want to grow up someday and be Becca!
 
CYT Lafayette hosted a wonderful catered lunch with pork sandwiches and the best bread pudding on the planet. Honestly! With all the sweet tea, sweet bread, sweet beignets, and sweet people, it’s almost too much to take!
 
Travis Russell, Director of Communications at CYT Inc. at the NLC 2015.

Travis Russell, Director of Communications at CYT Inc. at the NLC 2015.

Travis Russell (Director of Communications, CYT Inc.) gave an update on the new CYT software that is coming out this summer and introduced a new marketing strategy to get lots of new email contacts. SMILE: it’s a photo booth!
 
Allison Mayberry from CYT Fredericksburg was full of fresh and new ideas on how to use social media and community involvement to create buzz about CYT. This lady knows how to get the CYT name out there and knows how to build partnerships with local business.
Allison rocks and she does it on a CYT budget!
 
One of the highlights was an acting workshop given by Tyler Hutchinson of CYT Indy. He had the entire room engaged with what it means to be an actor. He pulled people from the audience to illustrate his points. Our students are lucky to work with such fine Artistic Directors as Tyler. He’s got the heart, and enthusiasm and the attitude to change the world. (Note: Tyler will be leading many of the student events at the 2015 EXPO!)
 
Sheryl Russell (CFO, CYT Inc.) ended the days session with a challenge to, “LEAD with DILIGENCE, ATTITUDE, ENCOURAGEMENT, and LOVE.”  It’s apparent that God is doing mighty work throughout CYT via our awesome leadership all over the U.S.A.
 
Gerald and Patti Broussard and Dana Bekurs (of CYT Lafayette), made Saturday night especially memorable by renting out a Footloose-eque Dance Hall for the CYT leaders to enjoy.
All they wanted to do was dance. #NLC2015. Image courtesy of Katrina DeRoche.

All they wanted to do was dance. #NLC2015. Image & caption courtesy of Katrina DeRoche.

Everyone was treated to authentic Cajun food, (Boudin sausages, red beans and rice, and fried hush puppies) and live Zydeco music. Everyone danced the night away, even learning the Louisiana two step.
CYT leaders, Tanya Tafolla & Katrina DeRoche get musical at the 2015 NLC.

CYT leaders, Tanya Tafolla & Katrina DeRoche, from CYT San Diego, get musical at the 2015 NLC.

It’s always a hassle to get to the CYT National Leadership Conference, but once you get there it’s one of the highlights of the year. On that note, make sure you start saving up for 2015 EXPO in San Diego this summer! You won’t want to miss out on the fun & fellowship.
 
A huge thanks goes to Gerald and Patti Broussard, Dana Bekurs, and the entire staff of CYT Lafayette. It truly was a remarkable weekend and they are, indeed, the hostess with the most-est! Y’all are some’um special.


Thanks for the reflections, Paul!

Act, Sing, Dance, & Live!

It’s 2015! Can you believe it? One of my fave CYT mantras is “Act, Sing, Dance, Live!” I’m gonna try to do more of all of those things in 2015 and not just in the theatre! Maybe I’ll even get myself a little mug with that slogan on there as a reminder…

CYT Mug

Should this be your 2015 resolution, too? Grab a mug for yourself here.

 

What a thrill to begin a new year full of possibility and so many opportunities to Act, Sing, Dance, & Live. One of the new opportunities I’ve been presented with, is communicating with you all here on this blog. My name is Summer Moshy, and I will be just one of the voices you will be hearing from this year on the CYT Blog (I’m also the Curriculum Developer at CYT, Inc.). Another contributing voice will be Renee Kauffman (our Creative Director at Inc.), as well as a host of other magically exciting individuals (because, honestly, Renee & I can only be captivating like once a month, at most, and since this is a weekly blog, well, you can do the math). Krista, our previous blog editor, did an amazing job in this capacity and we hope to continue spreading the light & joy as she did while at the helm of our blog.

Act, Sing, Dance, & Live! Phew, that’s a lot to do all at once. (Quiet down all of you triple-threats out there…sheesh.)

Maybe I’ll start with just the Act part, first…

Act, literally means, “to do something” (in fact, the word “drama” comes from the Ancient Greek word, “dran” meaning, “to do”).  One of the best things we can do, is let others know that we see them and what they are doing, and that what they are doing matters to us. Lonliness and invisibility hurts so deeply. So, let’s work together to let each other know, “Hey! I see you over there! And I like it!” If you feel so called, check out these CYT affiliates Facebook pages (linked below) and let them know you see them by “liking” their pages, or better, yet, go see one of their shows & like them in person!

CYT Atlanta

CYT Baton Rouge

CYT Denver

CYT Fredericksburg

CYT Houston

CYT Indianapolis

CYT Kansas City

CYT Lafayette

CYT Nashville

CYT New York City

CYT North Idaho

CYT Phoenix

CYT Portland

CYT Riverside

CYT Sacramento

CYT San Antonio

CYT San Diego

CYT Santa Cruz

CYT Spokane

CYT Tri-Valley

CYT Tucson

CYT Upstate

CYT Waco

CYT Wichita

If you’re curious about what CYT is and why we Act, Sing, Dance, & Live all the year through, check out our website or like us on Facebook.

We promise, we like you, too.

One-on-one with CYT Inc’s Dr. Summer Moshy

CYT is chock full of the most incredible people. From affiliate leadership to volunteers to students to staff, there are phenomenal people everywhere you turn. Recently, CYT Inc’s Curriculum Coordinator, Dr. Summer Moshy, humored me while I peppered her with questions about what she does for CYT and why she thinks the organization is the most special one around.

Summer (right) with CYT Inc's Director of Operations, Heather LaForge

Summer (right) with CYT Inc’s Director of Operations, Dr. Heather LaForge

First things first. You are CYT’s Curriculum Coordinator. Break down for us what that means.
Basically, I organize and maintain all of the available CYT Inc. curriculum materials that we’ve got and make them accessible (via the Curriculum link on the CYT NEXUS) to all of our CYT affiliates for use in planning the class schedule for their respective areas. I try to keep the resources current with accurate listings/descriptions of what materials we have available, so that the Area Coordinators, Managing Directors, and/or Artistic Directors can request what they need for their area teachers. I also facilitate the requests from the ACs, MDs, or ADs for the materials and answer any questions they might have about our current materials.

There are oodles of classes and even more affiliates. Your job sounds busy!
It took me a a while to recover and organize all of the curriculum stuff CYT Inc. has amassed over the past 30 years, but now that that’s done (though we do still unearth buried treasures from time to time!), I’m starting to work on creating new curriculum materials for our affiliates. I also try to solicit materials from our affiliates to enhance the variety and quality of curriculum goodies we have for them. I am also about to send out my first Curriculum Newsletter highlighting what’s new and what’s coming up for CYT Curriculum.

Summer wiith CYT student Emily Smedley at EXPO 2014

Summer wiith CYT student Emily Smedley at EXPO 2014

I’m told you’ve worked with a variety of other theatre programs. What is the main difference you notice about CYT?
The willingness of everyone involved to “give it to God” at the end of the day. To me, it’s comforting to feel that the common denominator among CYT peeps is devotion to a power greater than ourselves.

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The journey from CYT student to CYT director (sorta)

You guys. You’re about to meet an extraordinary gem. Caleb Craig is a former CYT San Antonio student, and current intern director for CYT San Diego‘s production of The Addams Family. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with him about CYT life, college life, and future life. Lucky me!

Here's Caleb, ladies & gentlemen.

Here’s Caleb, ladies & gentlemen.

Not so long ago you were a CYT San Antonio student. What were some highlights from your days on the CYT stage? 
I was part of CYT San Antonio’s ambassador group, the Encore! tour group. That has by far been my favorite part of CYT. We had the privilege of working directly with Sandi and Scott Mitchell producing and performing medleys and arrangements of songs from various genres and shows. That group of people have become my closest friends. They’re like family to me.

The Encoure! group with their Artistic Director Sandi Mitchell

The Encore! group with their Artistic Director Sandi Mitchell

Any favorite CYT roles or shows stand out to you?
I was Peter Pan in Disney’s Peter Pan Jr. and it was a dream come true for me. That was my first lead role in any show I’d done. One of my favorite shows that CYT San Antonio put on was definitely The Wizard of Oz. It was filled with so many incredible moments, including a 12-minute quick change from Ms. Gulch to the Wicked Witch of the West. Watching the make-up and costume crew backstage move super fast to completely change the actress’s appearance was something to behold.

caleb2

 

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Meet the #Beineke family

The following blog post was written by the CYT San Diego (North County Inland) Area Coordinator Katrina DeRoche. And if you’re in the mood to read truly beautiful insights on the pseudo-families that CYT creates, then today is your lucky day.

addams

Meet the Beineke Family. That’s mom (Alice) & Dad (Mal)…eldest son Lucas is wearing the glasses and the twins are snuggled in there. This little family is one of the reasons I love CYT.

Their names are fictional, but their connection is not. They are the CYT kids playing the Beineke Family in North County Inland’s production of The Addams Family. Watching them bond over the last four weeks has been amazing.  And the beauty of it is that this is a pretty common occurrence. Our kids just love being together no matter their age differences. In fact, I think the range of ages is actually the draw.

In the case of the Beineke family, things started normal enough. Our teens and younger sect often co-mingle. The Beinekes started out doing the usual things like playing games together on their phones and creating their own hashtag on Instagram (#Beineke). Then, I noticed them sitting together while other kids were doing scene work… and eating their meals together… and posing for ‘family portraits’. The smallest Beineke runs into the arms of his 6’6 sophomore ‘Dad’ upon entering the room every rehearsal. The twins cuddle up with ‘Mom’. I’ve watched Lucas and Dad try and get the twins to say who is their favorite… and they care! It’s hilarious and amazing all at the same time.

Lots of folks would instantly think about how lucky the younger kids are to get that kind of attention from teens, but I think of how much our teens love the invitation to still play. I think about how good it must feel for them to have someone hang on their every word. They feel valued.

You see, school can be rough. High school is full of social stress and posturing. Here at CYT, we create a space where students ages 8-18 can interact and build real relationships. They can be themselves… wacky and loving at the same time. We create a supportive environment where the teens can lead prayer one day and then be led in prayer by a nine-year-old the next. What’s better than that? To me, nothing. #CYTfamily


You can see the Beineke family in action in The Addams Family, which runs Oct 25 – Nov 2 (Tickets & info HERE).