What is Christian Youth Theater?

Christian Youth Theater (CYT) is an after-school theater arts training program for students ages 4-18. Since its founding in 1981, 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 comprised of three ten-week sessions: Fall, Winter, and Spring. These sessions involve after-school classes in theater arts with 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 at 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 & Values

Mission
Christian Youth Theater develops character and creativity through quality theater arts training that brings families and communities together while reflecting Jesus.

Values
  • Character over competition:  Our intentional focus is on knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him. We earnestly desire growth in love for God, in the knowledge of His love for us, and in a humble life that pours out love towards others.

  • People over programs:  We exist for our communities: those we know and those we have yet to meet. The people. We were created for companionship, and at CYT we long to see strangers become neighbors and neighbors become community. This is our calling. We love God, and we love and value His people. We see and welcome people for who they uniquely are and not just what they can do for our organization.

  • Service over spotlight:  We believe in serving others in sacrificial and tangible ways. CYT exists for opportunities to know and see needs, and to meet them as the body of Christ. We see leadership through the lens of servant leadership, as best demonstrated in the person and work of Jesus. We aim to work slowly and mindfully to see the needs that walk through our doors. We would take servanthood over spotlights any day.

  • Excellence over ego:  We value giving God our first and our best. Excellence is our simplest expression of giving the gifts and talents God has blessed us with back to Him. We don’t seek perfection as a means of outward praise, but excellence as a form of worship from a heart of gratitude and diligence. Being excellent in all we say and do is a way we can be faithful to God’s calling on our lives and in our work.
CYT is passionate and committed to supporting, sustaining, and encouraging a safe, creative community where all are welcome, seen, and valued. All those participating at CYT are charged to hold to their personal convictions while simultaneously demonstrating grace and compassion to ALL they encounter, regardless of religious or political differences.

CYT is an educational nonprofit not associated with any specific church or denomination. All are welcomed and encouraged to participate and are not required to adopt any specific religious beliefs.

CYT is committed to creative and diverse programming, the continued development of
practices and strategies that serve many unique needs, and the continued improvement and
expansion of diversity in and for the CYT community.

“There are a lot of kids learning integrity who will bring it into their communities later in life.”


CYT Director

Impact

Every year CYT National works with local communities to bring Branches to new cities. As CYT grows, so does the impact of our organization on future leaders of our nation and world.

Current Staff Members:

Karen Smith

Operations Director
Karen, who currently resides in Jacksonville, FL, is honored to serve as the National Administrative Director for CYT National. Before coming to CYT National, she served as the Managing Director for CYT Fredericksburg, where she contributed at the local Branch level, working closely with talented young performers, dedicated staff, and a supportive community. There she witnessed firsthand the transformative power of the CYT in the lives of young people. It fueled her commitment to our mission. As part of the National team, she considers it an honor to be a part of expanding the reach of CYT and making a difference on a broader scale. Her role involves overseeing operations, managing finances, and developing strategies to ensure that CYT National continues to serve our local Branches.


Paul Stine

Design Manager
My name is Paul Stine and I currently live in San Diego, CA. My favorite thing to do on the weekend is most likely dancing or performing in a show...(when not in a pandemic)...or choreographing something! I also love a good Netflix binge watch. My favorite food is definitely pizza. I hope you don’t think I’m basic. I joined CYT over 20 years ago and I love it because it has transformed me into, not only the performer I am today, but the person I am today. I hope to continue to help transform performers and people in the future of CYT.


Tiffany Hochkeppel

Branch Support Manager
Tiffany hails from Youngsville, LA. As a former public school teacher of ten years, educating and inspiring students not just in the arts but in their character is something she holds dear. She began working with CYT Lafayette in 2019. Tiffany is excited about the opportunity to influence students and Branch leaders beyond her community in whatever way she can as a member of the National team.


Kristen Downing

Communications Manager
My name is Kristen Downing and I currently live in Kansas City, MO. One of my favorite activities to do over the weekend is taking my precious pups to the dog park with my husband. When not choreographing a show, I love watching a good docuseries while knitting. My favorite meal is steak and mashed potatoes. It’s truly a shame I can’t eat that every day. I joined CYT as a student over 20 years ago and have built wonderful lifelong friendships. I even met my husband through Improvathon! There are too many reasons why I love CYT, but one of them is watching students grow in their theatrical skillset while strengthening (or starting) their relationship with the Lord in the same space. It is truly an honor and privilege to be serving CYT on the national level. I can’t wait to see what God will do next!