NYT leadership

Justin Parks

Justin Parks

President, Board of Directors; Artistic Director

 

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.

Becca Cary

Becca Cary

Secretary, Board of Directors; Choreographer

Becca Cary 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. In addition to her background in theater, Becca brings fundraising and non-profit experience to the NYT Board of Directors. She is the founder of Hands of Justice, an anti-trafficking non-profit for teens and young adults.  Becca loves God, loves children, and loves to dance.

Clay Alexander

Clay Alexander

Treasurer, Board of Directors

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

Ann Wood

Ann Wood

Board of Directors; Program Manager

Ann has been involved with NYT since 2014 when their family embarked on their first foray into musical theater with NYT’s production of Peter Pan.  Since that time she has been blessed to have seen the positive impact the program has made on many lives, including her own family. She 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.

NYT Staff

Amanda VanDusen

Amanda VanDusen

Costumer

Originally from Indiana, Amanda and her family have called Texas home since 2003.  Her family was introduced to NYT in the summer of 2015 when their 2 daughters attended a week long Wizard of Oz summer camp.  They were hooked!  Her hobby of sewing made her a shew in for the costume committee!  Amanda served on the costume committee for Narnia and was the Costume Chair for Seussical.  She loves the creativity and the challenge of costuming!

Deloris Jester

Deloris Jester

School Day Coordinator 

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.

Emily Amos

Emily Amos

Class Coordinator, 24 Hour Musical Coordinator

I was born in College Station Texas but was raised in the Rio Grande Valley. There I met and married my high school sweetheart Greg Amos. We have been married 20 years and have two amazing daughters: Lily, who performed in her one and only musical production with NYT in The Music Man and Rory who is currently performing in her third NYT production in Willy Wonka. We moved to Spring 10 years ago from Jersey Village. We attend Faith Bible Church on Research Forest where Greg and I are blessed to serve as youth small group leaders and group leaders in the Re|engage Marriage Discipleship Program.
NYT has been such a blessing for our family, especially Rory, who has really flourished here. I can’t say enough about the sweet families we’ve come in contact with and are building friendships with. I coached girls homeschool volleyball for 6 years with the now retired SATCH Lady Mavericks. That experienced grew me in so many ways and I miss it to this day. I dabbled in theater all though junior high and high school and grew up watching many, many old musicals on TV and I still LOVE them. If I had to pick my top three favorite musicals I’d have to choose Singing in the Rain, The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. I’m so excited to get to help out as 24 Hour Musical Coordinator. I look forward to working with you and your sweet children to make this a fantastic experience. All Praise and Glory to God!
Emily Currid

Emily Currid

Business Manager

Emily has the joy of living life with her funny, loving, kind-hearted husband, affectionately nicknamed Schmoopy. Emily also has the pleasure of raising two adorable humans – Kaitlyn and Liam. You will often find them binge watching Netflix, playing board games (only when Emily promises to be on her best behavior and not get super competitive), wrestling, playing football and four square, and generally loving and enjoying life. Emily’s other hobbies include all things Dr. Who, running, reading, and working out. She despises carrots and prays for world peace. Emily is also a REFIT® and POUND® Instructor at The Zoo Healthclub in The Woodlands. “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 118:1

Jerri Burris

Jerri Burris

Marketing/Fundraising Manager

Jerri holds a Bachelor’s degree in Radio/Television/Film with a focus on Marketing & Management and a Master’s degree in English. She has over 25 years educational experience in training and curriculum development for public and private schools, higher learning institutions, and corporations. She has also assisted with marketing for both private schools and non-profit groups.

Jerri is thrilled with the opportunity to serve as the NYT Marketing Manager. “I never pictured myself in the world of theater until 2016, and now my family cannot imagine our lives without it. I am honored to be a part of this wonderful organization, and I look forward to the exciting growth and changes to come.”

In addition to being immersed in theater, Jerri has been married to her husband, David, since 1991. David and Jerri are the proud parents of one beautiful thespian, Christin Joy.

Jill Alexander

Jill Alexander

Production Manager

Jill is a native Texan, born in Houston and raised in Spring. She met her sweetheart Clay in 1995 and they have been happily married now for almost 21 years.  They have four children, Bailey, Savannah, Taryn and Grayson whom Jill has had the pleasure of homeschooling for the past 13 years.  Their girls began their theater fun in 2008 with classes and in 2012 began with their first production, Annie Get Your Gun!  Their family has been a part of NYT from the beginning and couldn’t love their NYT family more!  Jill has served in different capacities, namely Props, Concessions, House Manager and Production Manager for Seussical and now Beauty and the Beast.  She and her family feel beyond blessed to be a part of such a special organization as National Youth Theater.  They believe NYT maintains a spirit of community and the fact that Christ remains the center of all that is done here makes this organization all the more dear to them.

Jill Adolph

Jill Adolph

Production Manager

Jill is originally from Michigan but has made Spring, TX, her home for the past 12 years as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to her two beautiful daughters. Before the privilege of staying home with her girls, she loved working as an orthodontist assistant in Michigan, Ohio and Florida. She has been married to her husband Steve for 22 years. Her family enjoys traveling, game nights, hosting events and get togethers, and helping others. Musical theater entered their lives five years ago and it has been an exciting adventure ever since. The Adolphs have built strong friendships through NYT’s productions, classes and fundraisers since its beginning. NYT’s full dependence on God’s vision, heart and leadership of the organization is what Jill and her family have come to admire about NYT and believe it’s what sets them apart. Jill has enjoyed serving on several parent committees such as props, mics, green room, hospitality and sets. But her favorite role has been as Program Manager (Footloose camp, Narnia and Joseph) as it not only allowed her to get to know the cast members and families better and work alongside excellent staff members and directing teams, but also to build upon hidden talents and abilities that God wanted to reveal to her. She has discovered that NYT does not exist only for the kids to grow in the ways God created them, but also for the parents.

Kristi Vaughn

Kristi Vaughn

24 Hour Musical Assistant Coordinator

My day job is trade compliance and logistics in the oil and gas industry but my heart loves the theater!  Being a church brat, music has always played a major role in my life, but an even larger component has been children’s ministry.  I love that, no matter who we are or where we started, we are all called to guide and influence the lives of the young people around us, and to help them grow into the world-changers God has called them to be!  My music background is almost exclusively in church, but I’ve dabbled in the secular world as well. I’ve led choirs and praise and worship teams for almost 10 years.  I also gig around town with my handsome drummer husband and our band in our free time.  We were youth group sweethearts, have been married for nearly 14 years, and we have two phenomenally talented and beautiful girls who absolutely adore being involved at NYT!  We couldn’t be more excited to be involved in this blessing of an organization. God dropped NYT into our lives at a time when my girls were so in need of Christ-centered relationships, and NYT has answered that prayer in our lives. This is a group whose ministry is bringing glory and honor to God, with some pretty fabulous song and dance on top. We’ve had the privilege of watching our girls flourish in an environment of Jesus chasing young people.  I’m so grateful for this organization and for the opportunity to be a part of the lives of so many incredible and talented kids!
Nancy Paffie

Nancy Paffie

Teen Camp Coordinator

I’ve been involved since the beginning of NYT with my husband Joey and 6 kids (Sullivan, Baker, Brady, Sydney, Sammi, Sadie).  We have lived in the Woodlands area for 22 years now.  NYT has become like family to us and we just love doing life with them!!   Other than theater, I enjoy being involved with my church, hanging out with my family, vacationing, reading, hiking, building sand castles, walking and talking with my kids, and soaking in the morning sun on my porch with my coffee and Jesus.  I got my Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from Stephen F. Austin, then went on to teach Kindergarten for 7 years in Spring ISD.  Since then, I’ve absolutely loved being a stay at home mom and homeschooling our kids.  My favorite part about it is those winter days when we snuggle up on the couch with blankets, a good book and hot chocolate!  I love Jesus with all my heart and I’m passionate about seeing kids grow through a relationship with Him.  I love how God is using NYT to touch the lives of children of all ages and backgrounds.  It’s a super place to be!!!

Rachel Holland

Production Manager; Teen Camp Coordinator

I was born and raised here in Texas and met my incredible husband, Ryan, while attending Texas A&M University. We have been married for 18 years and have four kids who all LOVE NYT! Being around a group of kids and adults who all love theater, Jesus, and each other has been such a blessing for our family and I can’t imagine life without this group that has become like family to me. In addition to loving Jesus and theater, I love traveling with my family, reading, dancing, bad karaoke, and essential oils. I am so thankful that our family is a part of NYT and it’s such a privilege to be able to serve these kids and families.

Shannon Simmons

Shannon Simmons

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.

Richard Martinez

Richard Martinez

Website Administrator

Richard is a native-born Texan, born and raised in Houston. He met his amazing wife in 2005 and has been married now for 13 years. They have four young kids that keep their lives joyful and entertaining. You will find them busy with all sorts of activities: swim, theater, dance, gymnastics, and baseball. When they are not running around crazy they enjoy time with family and friends.

Richard has a degree in finance and an MBA with a concentration in Technology. He works full time for a software company working remotely and traveling periodically. He also builds websites and works on SEO for websites on the side. He enjoys working on the National Youth Theater website and helping whenever needed.

NYT Directors and Instructors

Alex (Spencer) Harris

Alex (Spencer) Harris

Choreographer; Instructor

Alex is a Senior at Sam Houston State University. She has loved every show she’s been a part of and NYT has a very special place in her heart. Alex has been teaching choreography for 6 years for various shows and classes and has most recently choreographed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with her longtime friend and mentor Rebecca Cary. Her favorite part of NYT is seeing the cast grow into their diverse and creative talents; and then seeing them use those talents for glorifying God.

Andy Barreras

Andy Barreras

Instructor

Andy received his Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Houston Baptist University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. While at HBU, he was involved in the Rex Fleming Players theater troupe, performing shows ranging from Improv to Classical. He took part in many of the music department’s opera productions, including role of “Pappageno” in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Before NYT came to the Houston area, he was in 8 different productions for CYT, with many leading roles, his favorite being as Horton the Elephant. He is engaged to be married in December and is so excited to fulfill his dream of working with NYT this fall.

Bailey Alexander

Bailey Alexander

Camp Staff; Instructor

Bailey is fresh out from under the graduation cap at 18 years old. Her passions outside of theater include photography, reading, and dancing with her grandpa. Bailey’s original intention when it came to musical theater was to only help out behind the scenes. When her sister caught the theater bug, however, she convinced Bailey to give the stage a try. Her “training” began as an eight year old at a summer camp and has since included numerous musicals and voice, dance, and drama classes, as well as learning about the many functions of what goes on behind the scenes. While she still has much to learn, Bailey is always eager to share her love for theater and the grace of God.

David Brooks Horn

David Brooks Horn

Show Director; Vocal 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

Teaching Assistant; Camp Staff

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

Instructor

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

Vocal Director; Instructor

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.

Holly Jasso

Holly Jasso

Instructor

From a young age Holly has been directing and performing in church and for family. Every Christmas her family would take a seat as she and her sisters would reenact the story of Jesus, costumes and all. In 2005 she earned her BFA in theater from SHSU with a teaching certificate. Her credits include: Anything Goes(Charity), Cinderella (Queen), Shadow Box (Agatha) and was a costume designer for Romeo and Juliet at Sam Houston State University. Holly was the Assistant Director for, CYT’s The Sound of Music and assisted choreography for Godspell. Most recently she performed in Houston Family Arts summer productions Fiddler on the Roof and Guys and Dolls. Holly enjoys spending her time sewing, going to church, hanging with her small group and reading to her little love bugs, Caleb and Danika.


Hunter MacDonald

Assistant Director

Jacob Ables

Jacob Ables

Choreographer; Camp Staff

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!!

Jacob Major

Jacob Major

Camp Staff

A Houston native, Jacob Major is the oldest of 7 and a recent graduate of Elon University’s BFA Music Theatre program. He grew up performing in musicals with CYT Houston, HFAC, and TUTS and training in tap, jazz, and ballet at Payne Academy of Ballet and Woodlands Civic Ballet. During his senior year of high school, he choreographed Thoroughly Modern Millie and Oklahoma for CYT Houston, and has since taught numerous dance classes and camps for CYT as well as private dance lessons. Since his freshman year at Elon, he has been very blessed to work in professional regional theatre each summer across 4 different states. He is thrilled for the opportunity to finally work with NYT and collaborate with some new faces! His goal is to challenge campers to achieve their highest levels of excellence so that they can inspire the world and glorify Christ through their artistic pursuits. Jacob will be moving up to NYC in late August to continue his career as an actor. 

Jane Hallford

Jane Hallford

Vocal Director; Instructor; Camp Staff

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.

Jenifer Shoemake

Jenifer Shoemake

Instructor

I am a lifelong thespian and mom to an 11 year old son who inherited my theater gene! I have been involved with NYT and other local theater groups in Houston for many years, and I am thrilled to join this extraordinary team of instructors!
I am a native of Colorado and received my Masters degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida in 2002 before coming to Houston to be closer to family in 2006.  I have performed onstage in a slew of productions including Our Town, The Glass Menagerie, Arsenic & Old Lace, Oliver and most recently was able to share the stage with my son in Fiddler on the Roof. I also began “Little Light Theatre” at our local church which performs skits to young children based on the weeks Bible lesson.
I have found a passion for teaching and helping students grow in their love for Christ by using their individual gifts to glorify Him.  I look forward to beginning this journey with all of you!
Jenny Gellagos

Jenny Gellagos

Choreographer; Camp Staff

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.

Jessica Rajski

Choreographer; Instructor

Jordyn Arnold

Jordyn Arnold

Instructor; Camp Staff

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; Camp Staff

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

Instructor

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.
LISA MORALES

LISA MORALES

Vocal Director; Instructor

Dr. Lisa Morales’ musical journey began at the age of three with Suzuki violin lessons at Oklahoma City University. As a violinist with the Charleston Youth Symphony (SC) and violin performance major through college, she studied with Dr. Won Mo Kim (Charleston Symphony Orchestra), Tiberius Klausner (University of Missouri – Kansas City), Dr. Donald Portnoy (University of South Carolina), and Leonard Feldberg (University of New Mexico).  Vocal studies with Drs. Aija and James Shrader included masterclasses with the renowned vocal pedagogue Richard Miller of Oberlin Conservatory followed by a year of intensive study with Florence Birdwell (teacher of Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara among others). While on staff at Tulsa Opera, Dr. Morales worked with nationally and internationally known singers, directors, and conductors and developed an opera appreciation course in conjunction with the University of Tulsa. Recently, she continued advanced study in the field with vocal pedagogy and conducting institutes at Boston Conservatory, Southern Methodist University, and the University of North Texas. Additional graduate coursework at the University of Houston-Moores School of Music has enabled her to learn from Professor Melanie Sonnenberg and the generous voice faculty associated with MSM. (Go coogs!)

Dr. Morales’ students are successful performers and have been welcomed into the Houston Grand Opera High School program, Sam Houston State University musical theater and theater programs, the University of Houston-Moores School of Music, Wichita State University musical theater program, and Oklahoma City University Petree School of Music, to name a few. Additionally, students who have trained with Dr. Morales are now featured singers and performers in various semi-professional and professional venues, including Disneyland in Orlando!

Dr. Morales has worked in higher education for over twenty years, developing curriculum, establishing and building programs, and designing extracurricular activities. Her research interests focus on the interdisciplinary nature of learning and encompass vocal health, the connection between bel canto and musical theater style singing techniques, performance practice and programming, and the economic impact of war/effectiveness of reconstruction efforts within two primary contexts: the War of 1812 and the Marshall Plan. At LSC-Tomball, she provides leadership for the direction of the music program, teaches honors music appreciation and private voice students, and directs vocal ensembles. Previously, she has served on the faculties of University of Tulsa, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and North Central Texas College.

MANDY HENSON

MANDY HENSON

Instructor; Camp Staff

For the past 13 years, Mandy Henson has been a private vocal instructor in the Conroe/Montgomery area. She currently serves as the high school choir director for Covenant Christian School. Mandy spent over 8 years working as a music director for local youth theater programs including: Christian Youth Theater and ImagineNation Theatre. She and her family have attended The Crossing Church for the past 15 years where she has had the privilege of working as the Worship Arts Director in the children’s department while also serving as a worship leader for main services.  She founded “Lessons with Mandy,” a program which hosts a variety of musical summer camps each year for kids ages 5-18.

Mandy’s heart for service, passion for music, and dedication to her faith attest to the clear gifts with which the Lord has blessed her.  She loves her students deeply and actively seeks to inspire a love of music in each of them all while pointing them to the true object of our worship, Jesus Christ. Mandy currently resides in Conroe, Texas where she and her husband Wesley raise their four beautiful children: Naomi (9), Milo (7), and twins Oliver & Wesley (6).

Madison McDaniel

Madison McDaniel

Instructor

I am Madison McDaniel. I have been active in theater since the age of fourteen.  My parents enrolled me in theater to help me to overcome my natural shyness. In theater I not only found my voice, but I discovered like-minded, creative friends, and a passion for performance. Over the years, I have been blessed to experience theater in many aspects including the technical production and the performance side. This is my third year to serve as instructor with National Youth Theater for our young thespians and I look forward to seeing them learn and grow!

Megan Karr

Megan Karr

Camp Staff

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.

Meghan Thomasson

Meghan Thomasson

Instructor

Meghan is currently finishing her degree in Music Education at Houston Baptist University while teaching private piano and voice lessons to students of all ages. In addition to teaching privately, she has taught elementary music classes and directed high school choirs. Many of her students have achieved superior ratings in the Texas State Solo & Ensemble competition as well as the National Guild of Piano Auditions. In her free time, she loves playing piano, singing Broadway tunes, baking, and studying maps. She is engaged to be married in December and is so excited to be teaching for NYT this year!

“speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,”  Ephesians 5:19

Meredith Spychaj

Meredith Spychaj

Director; Vocal Director

Meredith studied Musical Theater at the University of Kansas, is currently the Program Director, at WoodsEdge Community Church, has a background in Music Therapy and is a native Texan. Not only can she play the piano and a little guitar, Meredith is also a classically trained opera singer! With countless hours of vocal and dance training under her belt, Meredith brings experience and passion to each show. Being able to share her musical theater talents and knowledge with children is why she does what she does and why she truly LOVES it – it’s all about the kids!

When she’s not directing and running three successful businesses (Owner of Mail & More, Etc., Co-Founder​SouthernPestControl​,Co-FounderS​ quashBlossomCatering​),youcanfindher playing piano, dining with friends, singing, binge watching the latest show and enjoying her sweet family – husband, John, and her two beautiful children, Addison/10 & Brody/8.

Those that have worked with Meredith have used the words “sensitive, thoughtful, a go-getter, happy, creative and a real-life ​energizer bunny​” to describe her. Meredith is also known to have a big heart. She supports and is involved with several organizations serving Orphan Care, Education and the Arts.

Victoria Tamez

Victoria Tamez

Instructor; Camp Staff

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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