NYT leadership

 

Justin Parks

Justin Parks

Board of Directors President

Justin Parks has directed tons of musicals including Peter Pan, Godpsell, 24 Hr Musical and Charlie Brown for NYT.  As an actor he has been featured in shows including Singing in the Rain, Blood Brothers, Footloose, West Side Story and Drowsy Chaperone. He co-founded CYT Chicago/Spotlight in 1997 and led that program through 2013. He was also a part of several start up youth theaters across the country. Justin serves National Youth Theater as Artistic Director. His day job is running Theater by Design, a specialty costume and prop rental business.

He holds a BA in Religion with emphasis in Theology from Point Loma Nazarene College.  Mr. Parks has served Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Willow Creek in artistic endeavors.

Justin and his wife, Rachel and five kids (Jillian, Micah, Liberty, Jackson and Saylor) live in Shenandoah.

Ann Wood

Ann Wood

Program Manager, Board of Directors Treasurer, Teen Camp Coordinator

Ann Wood has been involved with NYT since its inception in the Houston area, and she has seen the positive impact the program has made on many lives. Ann is honored to be part of this organization, which places their priority on the students’ relationship with Christ and spreading the gospel, while still giving each participant a quality theater education.

Ann holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business Management from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.  She also worked for State Farm Insurance for 10 years as an agent and claim representative, as well as having worked in agriculture and economic development. She is pleased to bring her experience in marketing, communications and customer service to the board.

Currently Ann is blessed to be a wife, mother, homeschooling mom, writing tutor, and farmer-in-training. She lives with her husband and son on 10 acres outside Conroe.

Andrea Edwards

Andrea Edwards

Advisory Board

Andrea was born in the UK where she trained in ballet, tap and modern dance in her early years. She then moved into competing in disco freestyle in singles, doubles and team and Rock n Roll doubles where she discovered her love of choreography! She carried on with sporadic classes in jazz and tap dance throughout adulthood until she lost the use of her left leg and foot in 1999. This forced a back operation to prevent paralysis and saved the leg, but unfortunately left her with chronic pain where she lost her job and had to stop dancing.

In April 2007 she was prayed over and the Lord healed her chronic back pain and brought her into the kingdom of God! She realized that she could use the gift of dance to honor and worship Him! She felt led to start ‘toddler time’ at Woodsedge church, which uses dance and song to connect with children and parents and show Jesus’ love! She has taught and choreographed for several of NYT classes and Productions. Andrea currently is on assignment with her husband’s job in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Andrea still serves with NYT on the Advisory board and as a prayer leader.

Clay Alexander

Clay Alexander

Board Member

Clay received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Texas A&M (class 1992.)  He currently serves as VP of sales for Long Lake Ltd., the 4th largest homebuilder in the greater Houston area. He has been in the home building industry for 18 years.  Clay was also a volunteer fireman for 16 years.

“I will have to admit, I did not have a real burning desire to do anything with theater until I actually just tried it out and got involved.  I now see myself quite often saying, I can’t wait until the next NYT production gets started.  Although I can’t decide what I like more – working on sets or working backstage.”

Clay and his family have been involved with theater for 5 years and with NYT since the first production, Peter Pan, where he served on the sets committee. He has chaired the sets committee for Godspell, Narnia and Music Man.  

Jeremiah 29:11

Melissa Jacobs

Melissa Jacobs

Board of Directors Secretary

Melissa has had her heart & hands in music, ministry & transformative productions since 1978. She attended the University of Cincinnati and completed her studies in Business Administration & Sales Management at California State University. She enjoys being a wife and a homeschooling mother of three. In 2009, Melissa continued her training and degree work in a four year program in Biblical Studies at Charis Bible College, Colorado Springs, Colorado and was ordained in 2013.

The last 24 years of her musical theater experience have been dedicated toward developing & producing transformative arts programs & meaningful movements for ministries as a tool for evangelism. Her experience with Broadway style musical theater began in 2009 assisting directors, technical teams and serving to meet the needs of artistic teams, coaching actors, facilitating Bible studies & praying for performing students.

A visionary at heart, Melissa enjoys the development and implementation of creative & performing arts programs, camps, workshops and intensives. National Youth Theater and The Master’s Studios have provided opportunities to grow her calling to connect the community by way of the stage. Her heart’s desire is that at the end of the day and to every final curtain call, each student/actor has experiences & tools to take with them –priceless memories from being in a safe, creative and unique environment where a transformative encounter is possible, Christian character is built, artistic excellence is foundational and valueable learning and understanding is developed for a lifetime!

Our Directors and Instructors

Alex Spencer

Alex Spencer

Choreographer

Alex Spencer (Choreographer) is a nurse, having earned her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing, with an emphasis on E.R. and Trauma, from Sam Houston State University. Alex considers herself honored to have been mentored by Becca Cary for many shows and to have taught dance classes for styles ranging from African jazz to hip hop. Alex also directed choreography for Annie Get Your Gun. Alex has worked years with many different types of summer camps, including several for NYT.  Alex’s has a love for dance that goes all the way back to the 1997 church nativity play; wherein she decided (at the wise age of five) that the birth of Jesus deserved a ballet solo. After that she took a hiatus from the stage until the age of 17, when she began to get involved and perform with musical theater and build her love of dance.

ASHLYN JACOBS

ASHLYN JACOBS

Ashlyn Jacobs is a Phi Theta Kappa Honor student studying at Lone Star College and will complete her undergraduate at Sam Houston with a degree in Business Administration majoring in Management. While currently with National Youth Theater, Ashlyn has remained active in community youth transformative arts theater for the past ten years. She has been part of the choreography team at NYT since the beginning, helping to direct and teach many of our shows and classes.

Some of her past credits include: Lone Star Tomball’s Performing Arts Center Assistant Stage Manager for Shrek, Assistant Choreographer Student Dance Intern for Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, Guys Dolls, Seussical and The Little Mermaid. Productions in which she participated in the cast: Annie, Aladdin, Cinderella, The Music Man and Robin Hood. She participated as backstage/house management for Alice, Fiddler on the Roof, Jungle Book, and Mulan. Productions assisting sound Guys and Dolls, Seussical and The Little Mermaid. Ashlyn participated in Lone Star Tomball College’s summer production of The Music Man as assistant to costumes/backstage and House Manager for Leaving Iowa.

Ashlyn is thankful for her relationship to God, family, friends & to what God is doing to bring Christian artists together in redeeming the arts in Houston! Ashlyn says, “I am grateful for countless opportunities to contribute to the beauty of stage performance in the community.”

Becca Cary

Becca Cary

Choreographer

Becca Cary (Choreographer) has been dancing as far back as she can remember. She has taught a wide variety of dance classes ranging from street jazz, hip hop, swing, modern and even country. She was in many musicals, talent shows, dance recitals and church programs but is most proud of her choreography in musicals such as: Suessical Jr., The Wizard of Oz, Robin Hood, Pocahontas, The Jungle Book, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, and The Little Mermaid. Becca loves God, loves children, and loves to dance.

Cheryl Dvorak

Cheryl Dvorak

Cheryl Dvorak grew up on Cape Cod MA, then moved to The Lone Star State after graduating High School where she found the love of her life and has been happily married 26 years, with two beautiful children. Cheryl has been blessed with the opportunity of being a stay at home mom for 20+ years, and a homeschool mom for the past 6 years. Shel is passionate about her family and children. Proud Thespian mamma of a son in theater for the past 8 years, and first time “Glamma” to a beautiful baby girl, she loves being creative and crafty with diy projects, chalk paint transformations, gifting treasures to friends and family and networking. She is currently involved with fundraising and party planning for NYT, and enjoys being a part of the NYT “Dream Team”

Deloris Jester

Deloris Jester

A thespian at heart. I have supported Cierra & Walker in youth theater since 2013, serving in various capacities. I love everything about it. I am a speech pathologist by trade, but a homeschool mom as a profession. I have done both for the last 12 years. New chapters are opening as time passes. Traveling to other countries to love on people of other cultures is my new love. My newest adventure is being on the stage myself this summer in Fiddler on the Roof as Golde. I am so very excited.

David Brooks Horn

David Brooks Horn

Assistant Director and Vocal Co-Director

David has been a director with NYT for two years, through numerous shows including Music Man Jr. and Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. When not directing, he enjoys acting in the Lone Star Summer Musical, composing music, and leading worship at St.Dunstan’s Episcopal Church.

He has a lovely wife, Diana, and his pride and joy, his son, Lucius. He wishes the entire cast and crew the best in this amazing show and is constantly humbled by the power and presence of God at NYT!

Hannah Hallford

Hannah Hallford

Hannah has been performing in musical theater since age eight, when her family started a theater organization called Christian Youth Theater in Houston back in 2006. She has a passion for the arts. Hannah feels that God has blessed her with the gifts of singing and dancing. She is excited to one day use these gifts in the future in some way in Europe. The Lord has called her to perform for the nations through the arts for His glory. She has a big heart for children and feels so privileged to be a counselor at camp this year! NYT is her second family and she enjoys every moment she gets to spend with these precious kids.

Hannah Mucha

Hannah Mucha

Hannah Mucha is a professional dancer who has worked with many students, sharing her love and passion for artistry through dance. She has trained at Excelsior School of Dance for the past 12 years in various forms of dance, including classical and contemporary ballet, modern, hip hop, drama, and tap. As a trainee, and now company member in Ballet Excelsior of Houston, Hannah has been on multiple dance mission trips traveling to New York, Poland, The Czech Republic, Austria, and Bulgaria. She teaches ballet classes in her home studio and has been an assistant teacher through Excelsior Dance School’s teacher training program for the past six years. Hannah is currently studying at John Witherspoon seminary in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in the visual and performing arts. Hannah believes that art touches the heart and as Christian artists, it’s our job to strive for excellence through hard work in order to improve whatever form of art we are creating. She believes that the art of dance is a gift from the Lord that can be used to worship, strengthen our bodies, and touch the audience in a way sometimes words cannot. “I am beyond blessed and humbled by the opportunity to share this art form with students and audiences, and thank God every day for bringing dance into my life.”

HANNAH RICKS

HANNAH RICKS

Hannah Ricks is highly passionate about teaching music both classical and musical theatre styles, and loves working with youth. Hannah has just accepted a new position within the Tomball ISD, where she will be teaching elementary general music, music theory, and choir to Grades K-4. Previously, she worked in Cypress Fairbanks ISD, teaching general music to grades K-5. Hannah has also really enjoyed working at various Summer Youth Theatre camps, some of her favorites were, Camp Disney, and Newsies camps, and in 2012 had the pleasure of being the vocal director for CYT’s Tomball production of The Little Mermaid, Jr.

Hannah also really enjoys performing and helping with worship music, as well as giving private voice and piano lessons. She studied music education with a focus in voice. Hannah is a graduate from Sam Houston State University.

Jacob Ables

Jacob Ables

Worship/Devotion Leader

Hi all, I am Jacob Ables. I’m 22 years old and a senior at Dallas Baptist University where I’m getting my degree in Biblical Studies. I come from a family of 5 and love them so much! I am currently a worship leader at Stonebridge Church and will be on staff at The Village Church as a worship leader starting in August of 2017. I absolutely love theology and to be able to study the creator of the universe is my ultimate joy. I plan to finish my degree in May of 2018 and get a masters in worship leadership within the next year. I love leading worship through music and I cannot wait to start this wonderful camp with NYT. My chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!! I have done many theater shows throughout my life, as a kid and professionally. My favorite thing about theater is how hard it is to learn a show so quick and the pressure I feel when I perform! I love NYT and all of the students that I have worked with in the past. I’ve made such good memories with all of the young men and women that are apart of NYT and I truly believe this show is going to be a blast!!

Jane Hallford

Jane Hallford

Jane Co-founded CYT Houston in 2006 and served as Artistic Director until 2011 and was one of the founding members of NYT. She has directed numerous shows including, Aladdin, Alice, Annie Jr., Godspell, Pocahontas, Robin Hood, Seussical Jr., and The Wizard of Oz. Jane earned a Bachelor of Fine arts in voice with K-12 certification from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1985. She has taught music  in public, private, and homeschool programs.

In addition, she has taught piano/voice in her own private home studio for over 30 years. Jane also has an extensive ministry background. She has years of experience in children’s, youth, worship team, choral, and worship dance ministries. She has also traveled extensively serving on mission teams in various foreign countries. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she currently resides in Spring with her family. She has 5 children and 3 grandchildren.

Jenny Gellagos

Jenny Gellagos

Camp Counselor

Jenny has been dancing for over 10 years and is very passionate about spreading God’s love to children and adults through the world of dance. She is an instructor at Magnify School of Dance and loves working with kids! As a graduate of All Nations School Of Minister, she is excited to see where God takes her next. She loves seeing kids find their passion for the Arts and helping them use that passion to serve and glorify God. Ps…Jenny is also the proud owner of a 2 year old Husky named Spirit.

jordyn arnold

jordyn arnold

Jordyn Arnold is a Lone Star College student and multi-talented NYT student. She has participated in many shows, holding a variety of different types of roles, most recently as Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man. Jordyn has volunteered at various camps for several years, most recently as a Drama lead instructor.
Justin Ray

Justin Ray

Choreographer

We are pleased to announce our special guest choreographer Justin Ray! Justin began his theater training with CYT/CCT San Diego during his junior year of high school. He started taking dance classes while getting an AA degree at a community college. He continued training in acting and singing while simultaneously working professionally in local San Diego theaters. He received an 8-month intensive dance scholarship from the Academy of Performing Arts in San Diego. Not long after, he transferred to UC Irvine majoring in Drama for a short while before joining the Chicago company of Wicked. After 18 months performing in Oz, he decided to move to Hollywood to pursue an acting career in TV/Film. He has since starred in a few independent feature films and occasionally returns to the stage. Some of his favorite theater credits: Wicked (Ensemble), CATS (Rum Tum Tugger), West Side Story (Riff), Gypsy (Tulsa), Music Man (Tommy Djilas). Some Film credits: 1 Chance 2 Dance (Netflix), Disaster LA (On-Demand), Attack of the Killer Donuts (Coming Soon), Fortune Defies Death (Coming Soon), Living with Models (YouTube). On a personal level, Justin has been a Christian for most of his life. He remembers accepting Jesus Christ as his savior while praying with his father when he was 5 years old and he has lived in faith ever since. “My identity is in Christ and I am continually learning what it means to live more deeply within that identity.”

Lael Lawless

Lael Lawless

Assistant Director

Lael has been involved in musical theater for over 15 years. For the past 6 years she has been teaching private voice and piano lessons in the Spring, Woodlands area. Her number one goal is to encourage the next generation to use their gifts for the honor and glory of God. Lael is a recent graduate with a B.A in International Studies and she is going back to school in the Fall to become a RN.  She is so happy to join the NYT family and is looking forward to what God has in store.

LEAH CLAXTON

LEAH CLAXTON

Leah Claxton loves to dance and has studied and performed with Progressions Performing Arts and Theater Under the Stars. She has also had the rare opportunity to train with the Radio City Rockettes in NYC. Leah has competed as a professional ballroom dancer and is a certified Zumba and PiYo instructor. She is married to the love of her life, Ryan, and currently works at Woodsedge Church as the Early Childhood Program Director.  She enjoys tutoring math (besuccessfulinmath.com) and teaching ballroom dance lessons. Leah is excited to support and teach NYT students.
Megan Karr

Megan Karr

Camp Counselor

Welcome Back Megan to our team!! Megan has a BA in English (Creative Writing) with a minor in theater studies from Missouri State University. She loves Christ, theater, writing, and teaching, and is thrilled to be attending Dallas Theological Seminary this coming fall to pursue a Masters in Christian education. She found her passion for teaching theater and the Bible to children and young adults through working with NYT over the summers since its founding in 2014. Her favorite roles include Chava in Fiddler on the Roof, Marjorie in Bernice Bobs Her Hair, Ethel Toffelmire in The Music Man, and Jacks Mother in Into The Woods. Megan is also an establish author. “Lines and Lyrics” was her first book and “Save a Life” is her second. Megan is thankful for many supportive friends and family and looks forward to serving Christ at NYT while home this summer.

Shannon Simmons

Shannon Simmons

Business Manager, Day Camp Coordinator

Shannon is honored to be serving NYT; she has been involved since Godspell in 2015, serving as a green room mom and on various hair/make-up committees, and as a Camp Coordinator, and has seen firsthand the positive impact the programs can have on students’ lives. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Science in Geography from Texas A&M University and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. Her most recent professional position was with the Asylum Division of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services; she previously worked at Fulbright & Jaworski and Grimes & Warwick, in San Diego, California. Shannon and her husband, Tom, have two sons and a daughter-in-law.

Victoria Tamez

Victoria Tamez

Camp Counselor

Tori just completed her 2nd year at Lone Star College and will be transferring to Sam Houston State University for a major in entrepreneurship. She has a passion for singing, dancing, acting & photography. Tori is currently a dancer in Magnify Dance Company, and is also an alumni of Joyful Sound Performance Company.

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