Welcome to CYT Chicago

Christian Youth Theater (CYT) is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit, theater arts training program for students ages 5–18.

Each local chapter conducts three sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring) teaching drama, voice, dance, and specialty theatrical workshops at weekly two-hour classes over 9–10 weeks. Enrolled students ages 8-18 have the opportunity to audition and perform (or work behind-the-scenes) in a Broadway-style musical performed for the community. CYT Chicago also offers summer camps for kids ages 5–18, where they will spend a week learning musical theater skills, culminating 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.

Our Mission

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

Our Values
  • Character over competition: Our intentional focus is on knowing Jesus and becoming more like Him. 
  • People over programs: We exist for our communities ... at CYT, we long to see strangers become neighbors and neighbors become community. We love God, and we love and value His people. 
  • Service over spotlight: 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.  
  • 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.  

What does CYT offer?

CYT offers classes over the course of three sessions during the school year. Weekly classes last for two hours and run for 9-10 consecutive weeks. A variety of classes are offered in drama, voice, dance, and specialty subjects like stage combat, improv, and stage makeup. 

At the end of a CYT session, each student will come away with a new or improved skill in the area of emphasis. The session ends with a high-energy showcase of a portion of what each class has learned. All are welcome to attend.

CYT shows are appropriate for the entire family and are an excellent way to introduce children to the arts at a young age! 
CYT produces numerous Broadway-style musicals each year in areas located in Illinois and Wisconsin. Each production stars an auditioned cast of talented students who are enrolled in  our current performing arts classes. With several public and school day shows, a CYT production is the perfect outing for anyone looking for a great theater experience! 

Students ages 5-18 can experience our week-long musical theater day camps and overnight camp during the summer months. Typical camps include drama, dance, music, and craft workshops, theme-related devotionals, team competitions, and an impressive concluding showcase for family and friends. 

CYT Summer Camps are all about fun, friendships, and theatrics. There is no better place for kids to learn about theater and have fun than in CYT’s positive and encouraging atmosphere - where every camper gets the opportunity to perform on stage!

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 HYPE, Improvapalooza, Music Fest, Experience 150 Dance, and the yearly CYT EXPO.

Our Story

Christian Youth Theater Inc.
CYT Chicago began as an affiliate of Christian Youth Theater (CYT), the largest after-school theater arts training program for students ages 5-18.  
In 1997, Tom and Bonnie Bienert founded the first branch of CYT outside California, with Justin Parks as the Artistic Director. The Crystal Lake trio began with a small show that featured a cast of 21 students. The program quickly grew to 110 students in the inaugural session of theater training classes, and the first full-scale production drew nearly 3,000 patrons.  
In 1998, families from Lake County invited Justin to help them produce a Christmas musical. From this small cast, they grew to include classes, full-scale productions, and a summer camp program was established. Shortly thereafter, families inquired about bringing a program closer to their homes in Northwest Cook County, and as a result, "Annie” came to the stage.   
Year after year, families have stepped up and asked the same question: "How do I bring youth theater to my community?" CYT Chicago has grown to include nine chapters throughout northern Illinois and southeast Wisconsin. As of our 25th anniversary season in 2022, CYT Chicago has produced more than 460 theatrical productions, drawing over 35,000 participating families, and more than one million patrons.