"Every time I step out onto that stage, I have the opportunity to use my God given talents and passion to portray a soul, a portion of another’s story."


Nina Noelle Russell, CYT Student

Welcome to CYT!


Christian Youth Theater (CYT) is an after-school theater arts training program for students ages 5-18. Since its founding in 1980, CYT has grown to be the largest youth theater program in the nation, with Branches across the country training thousands of students a year.

Each Branch’s yearly calendar is made up of three ten-week sessions: Fall, Winter,and Spring. These sessions involve after-school classes in theater arts and the opportunity to audition and perform in a Broadway-style musical or work behind-the-scenes. Additionally, CYT offers a Summer session consisting of camps, workshops, and performance opportunities.

CYT stands in the forefront in its commitment to the highest ethical, moral, technical, and artistic standards of excellence. Instructors are professionals, qualified in teaching and/or performing, who understand our mission statement, values, objectives, and goals.

Mission Statement

Christian Youth Theater develops character and creativity in kids of all ages through quality theater arts training that brings families and communities together while reflecting the Creator.

Values
  • Treat each individual with respect and significance
  • Develop character traits including discipline, self-confidence, and integrity
  • Bring families together through the use of individual talents and abilities
  • Share the love of Christ in word and deed

What Does CYT Offer?

Classes
CYT offers classes for students ages 5-18 throughout the school year. Classes include drama, voice, dance, and behind-the-scenes training in makeup, costumes, tech, and more. Classes are held for two hours once a week and run for ten consecutive weeks in Fall, Winter, and Spring sessions. Class sizes are small and offer supervision both inside and outside the classroom. Each session culminates in a high-energy showcase to demonstrate to family, friends, and fellow students the skills acquired.

Parents send their children to CYT classes to learn, and that’s exactly what they will do! At the end of a CYT session, your student will come away with a new or improved skill in the area of emphasis. During the last week of class, a high-energy Showcase is presented by each class to show other students, family, and friends all they’ve learned.

Shows
Enrollment in CYT classes provides students ages 8-18 the opportunity to audition for the current production. CYT Chapters produce one Broadway-style musical each session (Fall, Winter, and Spring). Students who want to be part of the show without performing can participate on the backstage crew, technical team, or as an usher.

CYT shows are always appropriate for the entire family and are an excellent way to introduce children to the arts at a young age!

Camps
During the summer, CYT Branches put on week-long musical theater day camps for students ages 5-18. Camps are designed to be a fun and energetic immersion into the world of musical theater. Camps are jam-packed with games, activities, and interactive workshops that build performance skills, self-confidence, and teamwork. Typical camps include team competitions; rotations through drama, dance, and music workshops; and a concluding showcase for family and friends. 

CYT Summer Camps are all about fun, friendships, and theatrics. Camps are great yearly tradition for your child!

Our Story
Paul and Sheryl Russell were both teachers at Christian High in San Diego when they began a community theater from their family garage. It was the summer of 1980 and the show was The Sound of Music. The purpose was to provide a vehicle for talented aspiring performers in San Diego’s local churches.

The families involved in this newly-founded organization, Christian Community Theater (CCT), asked Paul and Sheryl to start an after-school theater arts program for their children. Paul and Sheryl, with two small children of their own and another one on the way, founded Christian Youth Theater (CYT). CYT began with 24 students producing the show You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and continued to grow throughout San Diego County.

In 1997 families from San Diego moved to Chicago, IL and Spokane, WA. Their desire to have CYT in their communities motivated them to start their own local branches under the CYT umbrella.
CYT has now grown to be the largest children’s theater organization of its kind with branches in 17 states. CYT trains more than 20,000 young people annually (as of March 2018).
CYT is committed to putting safety first at all times. The Safety Scene program is a CYT National initiative that goes well beyond background checks in its work to prevent, detect, and respond to physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse in CYT programming. 
 
Any act of abuse is unacceptable and stands counter to CYT’s beliefs. CYT is committed to maintaining a community where all participants can work and learn together free of harassment, misconduct, or abuse of any kind, including verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual.
It is very important that we maintain a safe environment here at CYT Sacramento. To help us with this, please click the link below to review resources on topics including abuse reporting and suicide prevention, and do not hesitate to reach out to a staff member with any concerns.
The CYT Decathlon Award recognizes exceptional CYT students who have demonstrated their love for theater by pursuing a well-rounded education in the theater arts and who have exhibited a character that is consistent with CYT values.

The Decathlon Award will be awarded to students, aged 16-18, who have met the requirements listed in the CYT National Decathlon Award Document, within the past five seasons. For any questions, please email us at decathlon@cytsacramento.org.
 
HYPE is a yearlong program for high school youth involved in CYT to develop their leadership capacity. The goal of HYPE is to challenge and grow the advanced students of CYT to be leaders and to get involved by serving the community around them, both within CYT and the community beyond.

Registration fee for the year is $150 and will be divided up into three payments: fall, winter and spring.  Bi-weekly meetings, Tuesdays 6:30pm-8:30pm. HYPE participation is by application only.  

 

Current Staff Members:

Wendy Hoover

Artistic Director & Co-Founder
Board Member
Wendy Hoover has worked professionally as a singer, actor and violinist. At age ten, Wendy’s love for the theater was sparked when she first took to the stage as one of the original students in the founding years of CYT San Diego. She co-founded CYT Sacramento in 2012 and in addition to teaching various classes, Wendy has directed and/or music directed more than fifteen shows. She also teaches private voice lessons and enjoys working with singers of all skill levels to cultivate beautiful and healthful singing. She sang before she talked, started studying the violin at age four, and eventually attended the University of New Mexico, earning her degree in Music with an emphasis in voice. After gaining experience in dinner theater, cabaret, musical theater and opera, Wendy returned to Southern California and went on to play lead and supporting roles in theater, television, and film. Wendy has played a variety of onstage roles including Madame Vodskaya in The Gift of the Magi, Alice in Alice in Modernland, Christine in The Phantom in Concert, Sandy in Grease, and she even starred in a one-woman show called Marilyn...Sleepless Nights at the American Theater in Kansas City. However, people get most excited about Wendy’s appearance in the Hallmark Movie, Santa Jr. (you sappy Hallmark fans know who you are!). She also worked as a principal actor in a number of national, regional, and local commercials. Wendy and her husband Cris moved to the Sacramento area with their three dynamic kids in 2010. She’s deeply grateful to God for allowing her to use her peculiar array of gifts to serve Him and to serve this wonderfully awkward CYT family.


Lisa Keeler

Managing Director
Board Member
My name is Lisa Keeler and I live in Roseville, CA. I recently retired as the Deputy Director of Administrative Services for the Department of Health Care Services. My more than 35 years of state of California experience was in administrative functions, including leading facility operations, contracts and procurement, health and safety, and strategic planning and workforce development. My previous board experience included Chairperson of my local church. I have four kids; one of which has been a part of CYT in the past and another currently performing in shows. I believe CYT-Sacramento has a great mission and a really good team – very talented and passionate. Among many things, I strive to help CYT further their mission in expanding in more areas around Sacramento.


Rachael During

Marketing Director
One would classify Rachael Durling as a generalist as she is good at a lot of things, but a master of none. Outside of her Marketing Director role with CYT Sacramento, Rachael works in the tourism and hospitality industry as a Destination Partnerships and Community Engagement Manager. Her creative and collaborative mind has allowed her many opportunities to get involved within the community. Rachael currently serves as the Board President for both the choir and drama departments at Bella Vista High School. She also has directed, assistant directed, stage managed, and produced several musicals at various community and school theaters. Rachael loves writing, creating, singing (mostly in tune, but never the right lyrics), all types of pickles, true-crime podcasts, the Sacramento Republic FC, owls, and believes that pineapple belongs on pizza. Rachael moonlights as a photographer, capturing families, children, newborns and more. You will often find her behind the computer screen editing photos, graphic designing, video production, and perhaps a little social media scrolling to keep up with her family and friends. Although Rachael is a self-proclaimed yes girl, she does manage her time well and we do promise that she does indeed find time to sleep. That’s one of her hobbies too! Rachael has had many accomplishments in her life, but by far, her best and most favorite ones all call her mom (except for the Rottweiler, she just slobbers). Rachael feels very blessed by the talents she has been given and grateful to be able to share them in various ways at CYT!


Rhianna Rowe

Roseville Show Coordinator
Rhianna Rowe loves the theater arts, especially the confidence and skills they provide. Her children joined CYT classes in 2015, and Rhianna joined the teaching staff shortly after. She has taught tap dance, Beginning Drama, Wiggles, and Our Gang at CYT. In 2019, Rhianna became the Camp Coordinator and Class Coordinator for CYT Sacramento’s Auburn chapter. Rhianna revisited her Camp Coordinator role in 2020 at the Roseville chapter and continued as the Class Coordinator in Auburn. In 2021, Rhianna became the Roseville Show Coordinator after serving as a volunteer on several parent teams in eight CYT productions in Auburn. Her family is so appreciative of the values, quality, and lasting friendships CYT provides. It is her delight to serve the surrounding communities as the Show Coordinator for CYT Sacramento’s Roseville chapter.


Bonny Verner

Folsom Chapter Coordinator
As the daughter of a Naval officer, Bonny grew up all over the world beginning in Southern California then London, England, Virginia, Rhode Island, Santiago, Chile and finally back to Northern California where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of the Pacific. Bonny met her husband Don while attending a layman's program at Faith Bible College and after graduation they moved to the Sacramento area where they have enjoyed living for over 30 years! Bonny worked as a lobbyist for Traditional Values Coalition, Concerned Women for America and as a legislative aide for a California State Assemblyman until transitioning to the role of "homeschool mom". In addition to leading various homeschool co-ops, that season of life was rich with supporting her children's activities. While her older boys were young, Bonny served as Children's Ministry Director for Christian Life Ministries. She volunteered as team mom through the little league and soccer years and then served on the Board of Directors for the 200 swimmer strong El Dorado Hills Tazmanian Devils Swim Team where she was tasked with team communications and the annual fundraiser, Laps for Taz. When her boys transitioned to high school, Bonny served as the President of the Oak Ridge High School Parent Teacher Organization, coordinating parent volunteers. She also supported the ORHS Jr and Varsity Swim and Water Polo teams by organizing annual awards banquets, game and tournament volunteers, and booster events. When her youngest daughter departed from the family sports obsession and turned her passion to theater, the news was met with "joy unspeakable" because it was Bonny's passion too growing up! The Verner family found a lovely home at CYT with friendly, supportive, safe community who balance striving for excellence with grace. Over the course of 11 shows at the Roseville Chapter, Bonny learned "all things CYT" by serving as Greenroom lead and then Show Chair where she worked alongside the Area Coordinator to support all the production teams. Bonny could not be happier that CYT is coming to Folsom and is honored to bring the blessing of wholesome theater-arts to a new group of CYT-ers!


Micky Velebit

Box Office Coordinator
Roseville Class Coordinator
Micky Velebit has been a part of the CYT family since 2013 when her oldest kids stepped onto the stage in Aladdin, Jr. As a former public educator, she holds a BS in Human Development with a minor in Education from UC Davis. For the last 15 years, she has been educating her own children at home, and reports that she loves being a part of the "a-ha" moments and the experiences where her kids step out and grow. She is very involved in her local church where she teaches Sunday School, organizes Bible Day Camp, and serves on the Children’s Ministry team. In her free time you will find her running the trails and streets of Roseville, cheering on her 5 active children in their sports and theater endeavors, or curled up reading a good book. Micky began working for CYT in 2019 as the Box Office Coordinator, scheduling school, senior and community groups for our amazing productions. She is excited to add Roseville’s Class Coordinator to her roles, where she can partner with families and children ensuring they experience quality theater arts classes in a wholesome and safe environment.