Our Mission

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.

Our 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

“Being in a CYT show changed my life. It helped me to stay joyful. It helped me to get through all the tough stuff in my life. And life is throwing some really hard stuff at me right now. I want to be a part of CTY shows forever! They help me thrive.  They help me to stay green and growing, instead of staying Brown.”

Aidan N. - CYT Portland Vancouver 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 1981, CYT has grown to be the largest youth theater program in the nation, with Affiliates across the country training thousands of students a year.

Each local program conducts three ten-week sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring) teaching drama, voice, dance, and specialty theatrical workshops at weekly two-hour classes. Enrolled students have the opportunity to audition and perform (or work behind-the-scenes) in a Broadway-style musical performed for the community. CYT also offers summer camps for kids ages 5-18, where they will spend a week learning musical theater skills resulting in a showcase performance for family and friends!

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.

"I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being."

Thornton Wilder

What does CYT Offer?

CYT offers classes over the course of three sessions during the school year: Fall, Winter, and Spring. Weekly classes last for two hours and run for ten consecutive weeks. A variety of classes are offered in drama, voice, dance, and specialty classes that vary per session. Class sizes are small and offer supervision both inside and outside the classroom.

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. Not only will they grow in theater skills, but they will be challenged to grow in character.

CYT produces one Broadway-style musical each session. Enrollment in CYT classes provides students (ages 8-18) the opportunity to audition for their affiliate’s current production. CYT shows are always appropriate for the entire family and are an excellent way to introduce children to the arts at a young age!

Any student registered for classes is eligible to audition for the current CYT production. Students not cast in the show are encouraged to participate in other ways. Depending on age and ability, students (and siblings) can participate on the backstage crew, technical team, or the costume and makeup teams.

Week-long musical theater day camps are offered during the summer months for students ages 4-18. Typical camps include team competitions, drama, dance, music, and craft workshops, theme-related devotionals, and an impressive concluding showcase for family and friends.

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

There are many ways to be part of CYT beyond the stage! CYT programs consist of everything that is not a class, camp, or show. Some of the available programs include CYT@school, HYPE, Improvathon, and the yearly CYT EXPO.

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

The CYT Story

Christian Youth Theater was founded in 1981 in San Diego, California by Paul and Sheryl Russell. It started in the 1970s when Paul was a teacher at San Diego State University and Christian High School. Sheryl was also a teacher and a cheerleader adviser.

In 1980, Paul and Sheryl’s dream of bringing wholesome family entertainment to their community became a reality as they, and a small band of theater-loving friends, mounted a fully-staged production of The Sound of Music at the top of Mt. Helix Amphitheater for a surprising audience of 5,000. That was just the beginning! Their dream continues to grow and grow and continues today.

CYT is an after-school theater arts training program for students ages 4 - 18. Since its founding in 1981 in San Diego California, CYT has grown to be the largest youth theater in the nation. There are affiliates across the country training thousands of students a year. CYT is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization funded primarily through its tuition, ticket sales and outside contributions.

Because CYT does not own facilities for classes or productions, the organization works through the local community, utilizing classrooms and stages in churches, schools and local theaters. CYT is not affiliated with a church body, and people of all faiths are welcome. Thank you for your support! God bless.

Current Staff Members:

Theresa VanWetten

Artistic Director
Theresa received a BA in Public Relations from the School of Journalism at the University of Oregon, along with a dance emphasis. For 20 years she was a certified fitness/dance instructor for Nautilus Plus of Oregon and Gold’s Gym. She has been on, coached, and choreographed for professional dance teams including The Portland Trail Blazers and The Portland Forest Dragons. She taught at June Taylor’s School of Dance, Thunderbird High School Dance camp and coached and choreographed for several high school dance teams in Oregon. Her CYT involvement began in the fall of 2012 when three of her kids joined classes and were cast in Oliver. From there she has choreographed more than 19 CYT productions. She teaches beginning, intermediate and advanced dance classes. Theresa has been married to her husband Ray for 32 years and they have nine children and four grandchildren.

Jeff Lippert

Managing Director
Jeff received his BS in Art History from Willamette University, where he also met his wife of almost 22 years. Following graduation, they got married and moved back to southern Oregon where he spent 5 years working in his family company. In 2001, he and his wife made the move to the Portland area. They have dedicated the last 17 years to helping people build thriving marriages, healthy families and profitable businesses which has given them the freedom to achieve their dream of raising their two children together.

Megan Fordice

South Class Coordinator
Megan felt called to work with youth from a young age and has always enjoyed working with kids from infants through high school. She has run summer camps, led church choirs, co-overseen her church’s Children's Ministry program and finds herself most at home leading and encouraging youth. Megan is married to Scott who she has known since third grade and is mom to four great kids, Abby, Emma, Ruby and Cooper.

Kelley Stine

Tualatin, Milwaukie and @School Class & Camp Coordinator
Kelley Stine is a busy mom of two delightful girls who love CYT. She has been with CYT for over 2 years and coordinated CYT Summer Camps this last year. She is the Early Childhood Director for the Tualatin campus of Horizon Community Church and loves working with kids of all ages.

Elice Turnbull

Vancouver Chapter Coordinator & Production Coordinator
Elice is a happily busy homeschool mom of three awesome kids. Her previous skills in the workforce as a training coordinator have helped her work as a Girl Scout troop leader and managing their local cookie program for the past five years. When she’s not slinging cookies or driving her kids to CYT rehearsal, she can be found roller skating, cooking, or constantly learning whatever new and exciting things comes her way.

Segie VanWetten

CYT@school Coordinator
Segie is a graduate of CYT Portland/Vancouver preforming in 17 productions. She earned the first National Decathlon award for CYT Portland and has been a teacher now for 2 years. She specializes in stage hair design and make up, as well as stage management. She is the Our Gang instructor and the Coordinator for Horizon Elementary/Middle SchoolCYT@school program.

John Espie

CYT Portland/Vancouver Financial Controller
John Espie is the Financial Controller for CYT Portland/Vancouver. He is a retired corporate controller for Unified Grocers where he worked for 15 years. Prior to that he was a Partner and Consultant for On-Site Accounting. John is a retired Naval Officer and has been married to his lovely wife, Peg, for 32 years. They have two married sons and are expecting their first grandchild this November.

CYT Portland/Vancouver

Mailing Address:
PO BOX 1328
Tualatin, OR 97062

Phone: 503-272-6600

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