Playing a character while building character at Christian Youth Theater in Chicago

When kids take a class at any of the area’s nine Christian Youth Theater centers, they’ll learn much more than singing, dancing and performing. Without even realizing it, they’ll also learn about leadership, responsibility and character.

“We’re not just teaching theater. We’re committed to kids’ character and to who they are going to grow up to be,” says Lindsey Branson, marketing director for CYT. “It’s a very positive experience. Kids feel accepted, they feel like they belong, and for some kids, that’s so important.”

CYT accepts all children age 4-18, regardless of religious affiliation. And, despite the name, it’s committed to Christian values but doesn’t teach religion as part of the program, Branson says.

Children from age 4-7 can participate in CYT through performing arts classes, while 8- to 18-year-olds can take classes and perform in actual productions. Classes are 10 weeks, with a performance at the end of the session. Parents are required to take part, too, and may find themselves helping with sets or costumes or manning the ticket booth.

During the summer, CYT offers day camps in about 55 locations. There’s also an overnight camp for middle and high school students.

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