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 served over 35,000 families since its start in 1997, producing more than 460 theatrical productions.