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Alumni Quotes

CHRIS MANN, finalist on NBC’s “The Voice” gave us this quote:

I remember by mom taking me to St. Stephens Church to auditions for Grease in 1995. I was incredibly nervous and was auditioning, essentially, because I had lost a bet with my voice teacher — I said I would audition for MTYP if they did Grease and that very week the audition flyer came to my house. I got the part of Danny Zuko!

As soon as rehearsal began I officially caught “the bug” and have been performing ever since. The following years of high school I played J. Pierrepont Finch in “How to Succeed” and Joseph in “Joseph…Dreamcoat” with MTYP and was also a resident company member of two seasons of Music Theater of Wichita.

With the skills I learned from MTYP I auditioned and was accepted as a Vocal Performance major at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. After singing opera in Italy I moved to NYC where I got my first major record deal with Sony Music Group. I toured with Tony Award-winner, Indina Menzel and Grammy Award-winner, India Arie and the stages got bigger and bigger.

I soon moved to Los Angeles where I began singing on TV and Film sessions including “Glee”, “Avatar”, “Sex and the City”, “Tangled” and many more and appeared on-campera on “Glee” as a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers. I then began peforming with industry icon, David Foster, in his “David Foster and Friends” concerts where I would often duet with NBC’s “SMASH” star, Katherine McPhee.

Next I decded to take a leap of faith and audition for the singing competition show, “The Voice”. I was lucky to have made Christina Aquilera’s team on the show.

It all began with MTYP. I’m extremely thankful to have been a part of MTYP personally and professionally. Not only did I get my feet wet performing for the first time but I also made life-long friends I still talk to today.
Thank you so much for your support through the years and especially now!

from ASHLEY ROBINSON

When asked, “what does MTYP mean to you” I don’t even know where to begin! MTYP is friends, family, an escape from reality, home, and SO much more. When I first started at MTYP I didn’t know what an impact it would be in my life. 15 years and over 40 shows later, I can’t imagine where I would be without MTYP and the many friends and connections I have made there.

As a performer, I learned from some of the most talented directors, music directors and choreographers what it meant to be a professional in theatre. Yes, we were young, but they expected the most of us and we gladly gave it. When I chose to pursue music theatre in college I went in with confidence, knowing that I had experiences many others didn’t get. From my years performing I made life long friends that I continue to work with in theatre and keep in touch with in life. These were people I didn’t go to school with, but we had a common bond that brought us together! MTYP gave us a chance we didn’t get in school, we could work with professional staff, and other students who wanted to be performing, to put on productions we were proud of.

After graduating high school I got the wonderful chance to return to MTYP as part of the staff. Having the opportunity to work with the kids that I once was has been extremely rewarding. I have seen hundreds of kids come through MTYP over the years, many have gone on to perform on Broadway, perform in tours, or return “home” to MTYP as staff members. I also got to work alongside amazing people who have a heart for theatre, and a heart for educating kids in theatre.

So many people don’t understand how I could spend so many hours with 70+ kids 4 times a week, but each one of them represents the kids I was and they become “my kids” who I love to see accomplish goals, graduate, and go on to lives that may or may not include theatre.

I could go on and on with sotries of MTYP as a performer and staff member. I continuously run in to MTYP “kids” past and present and every time I walk away with a huge smile on my face, knowing that MTYP not only impacted me, but impacted them. MTYP has formed me into the person I am today and I couldn’t be more thankful for everyone who has been involved in that constant growth.

from MATT SCHOCK

MTYP constituted an essential part of my childhood. The organization worked tirelessly to create a postitive, educational environment, where children could learn the technical aspects of mucial theater and take part in well-crafted productions, year-round. I was particularly grateful for MTYP’s summer camp-style productions, where every child was guaranteed a performing role. By promoting inclusion and opportunity, MTYP built a haven for young actors, singers and dancers to use their skills creatively and in service of a full musical production.

In addition to education, MTYP also built a responsive forum in the community. Every show I did with MTYP boasted a proud and sizable audience, thanks to the efforts of both the MTYP administration and a thoroughly supportive group of parents. For many, one of the great draws of stage is the feeling of accomplishment, underwritten by applause and admiration from an august crowd. MTYP gives each and every child the chance to experience that feeling, and to find a memorable reward in performance.

Finally, MTYP provided a springboard for young performers like me, who wished to continue working in theater. After high school, I attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where my experience at MTYP was invaluable to my creative studies. My experience also helped me build a formidable theatrical resume, which led to several successful years as a performer and director in New York. I know that other MTYP alumni have followed similar successful paths, many of which have extended onto Broadway stages. For my part, I am truly grateful to MTYP for giving me the experience I needed to reach my goals as an artist. I would encourage all young people with similar interests to take part in MTYP productions.

from KEVIN MUNHALL

I grew up doing several MTYP productions from 2003-2006. I am currently an actor working in the Broadway production of “ANYTHING GOES”.

When I caught the theatre bug in high school, I needed a place to explore my passion — this place was MTYP. Through working on various productions, I leaned about the joys of acting and music, developed life-long friendships, and learned how collaboratiion works in a professional setting. From an acting viewpoint, MTYP is where I learned the basics of my craft that I still use everyday. Theatre is one of those things that you learn best by simply doing, no matter what your experience level is, and MTYP does a fantastic job of helping kids of all levels learn, grow, and always remain challenged.

Through MTYP, I learned about the improtance of discipline, professionalism, punctuality, and teamwork all while having a blast. So much of who I am today is because of the creative freedom I was allowed in my youth and I feel very fortunate to have had a magnificent outlet like MTYP when I was growing up.

from AUSTIN FALLEY

MTYP gave me the tools for my professional success. In May, I received my journalism degree from the William Allen White School of Journalism at KU where I studied strategic communication. I’m currently a public relations professional for the University of Kansas School of Business.

MTYP gave me the ability to present strategic campaigns to clients, effectively communicate with other professionals and taught me how to work in teams for a common goal. Even though I’m no longer involved in performing arts, I still use the skills I devleoped as a peformer with MTYP.

Joining MTYP was, without question, one of the best decisions I made in my formative years.

from ANNE JANKOWSKI

MTYP was the most important part of my life during high school. I moved to Wichita the February of my freshman year of high school and that summer began my MTYP involvement. I was not really interested in theatre seriously before that. I met the MTYP family when I was a part of the MTW Target Teen Choir and instantly felt at home. The second I did my first show “BIG, the MUSICAL” I was hooked. MTYP made me realize that I wanted to do theatre for the rest of my life. The resume MTYP helped me build with all the directors and shows most definitely helped me get into the University of Southern California out in Los Angeles. The sense of community, family, and artistic collaboration that MTYP taught me was directly translatable to theatre in the big girl world.

On a more personal note, MTYP was the highlight of my high school career because I was happiest in that tiny little non-air-conditioned, non-heated, basement on Hillside. If MTYP was a high school, I would have transferred there. Everyone was nice, supportive and caring. I am currently a junior at USC and have studied abroad at The National Theatre School of Ireland. I am pursuing a career in acting as well as administrative theater/production and company management. I am confident that I would not be where I am today without MTYP.

from ADDIE BARNHART

As a young person in theatre, MTYP was a huge part of my life. Very few communities in the Midwest have an organization as accomplished and catered towards nourishing youth who have an interest in growing as artists. Music Theatre for Young People was a place where I not only was able to cultivate my talents and use as a functional training ground under working professionals such as Mike Roark, Karen Robu, Kyle Vespestad and Nick Saverine, but I made some of the best friends I have during my years involved.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to learn some of the most valuable lessons about theatre in a safe environment where everyone wants to see the students succeed. It was MTYP that taught me how imperative it is to work in an ensemble, and through my work as a chorus member I was able to grow as an actor. Music Theatre for Young People inspired me to pursue the arts as my passion and as a career, but also gave me the tools necessary to feel prepared to do so in a professional college setting. I feel so much kinship and gratitude toward all the people who made my involvement with MTYP a successful endeavor.