I began acting in YMTC when I was 14 years old. Being a part of such a strong community that allowed me to express myself creatively while working with others to create something positive (a show!) completely changed my life. I had been acting since I was five years old, however, YMTC really gave me my sea legs as a performer. Jennifer always emphasizes the positive, while still expecting a high level from the youth performers. She thereby makes those participating feel confident in their skills and also raises the bar, helping the performers grow together. I believe that people, especially youth, will rise to the bar that is set for them. In public schools often expectations are set low. Having a chance to be challenged in high school, and to feel like what I loved to do (theatre) was important, changed my life. I am now 22 years old. I just graduated from Boston University with B.F.A in Theatre Arts-Performance. I recently moved back to the Bay Area. I just finished an internship with Berkeley Rep and I am about to be in a dance theatre piece that will be at the San Francisco Fringe festival. I feel lucky to be making theatre in the world! Who knows what this next year will bring, but I feel confident that I have the tools to meet whatever challenges come, and I know that I have the passion and belief in theatre to continue performing. I believe that this all started in a large part with YMTC. During one summer break while I was in school, Jennifer let me be a directing intern for Les Miserables, as well as co-teach some YMTC youth summer workshops. I believe that this inviting of alumni back into the community to be teachers and inspire youth in the way that we were inspired, is yet another amazing and valuable thing that YMTC does. YMTC is incredibly important, now more than ever, because it teaches children that art is fun, vital, and powerful. YMTC teaches positive communication, collaboration, listening, and of course practical techniques of acting, singing, and dancing. But most of all, YMTC gives young performers confidence and an outlet for creative fun, and for that I, and many others I know, will be forever grateful.
The professional production values and talent of this show reached far beyond my expectations. The set design, choreography and music were creative and well rehearsed and again very professional. I would encourage all teens interested in Musical Theater in the SF Bay Area to audition for this incredible company. They would have a very rich and diverse experience working with their peers who share a vision and love of musical theater and dance.
This last season I saw YMTC's production of Ragtime as was blown away. I had seen their other shows and had really enjoyed them, but this was far different. I see many plays and I am a very harsh critic, but Ragtime was among the best shows I had seen from any company, including top equity companies, in years. So I was so delighted to join the cast of YMTC's West Side Story this summer. It was the best experience I have had as an actor in over ten years. As a professional actor with over over thirty-five years in the business, and having been in over one hundred plays, I can honestly say these guys have it. The leadership, the student actors, the quality of the production were all above board and just amazing. I have never been more proud to have shared the stage with any group of actors. These "kids" taught me and reminded me what a joy it is to act on stage. I'm sure that in fifty years, when I am in my nineties, I will remember the summer of 2012 and the wonderful young actors I learned from at YMTC.
As a teacher and director of theatre productions I am always encouraging my students to seek out quality training and education beyond what I provide. YMTC provides high-level, solid professional training beacause students have the opportunity to work with professional directors, musicians and choreographers. It has been thrilling for me to observe several of my students over the last several years perform challenging roles in a supportive and inspiring environment. While the productions are entertaining, there is a depth and emotion to these student performers characterizations that is remarkable.
It seems to me and many others that the student actors who audition for this company basically pay to be in their productions. Leaving out many theatre students who can't afford to pay to be in a play. Yes they do offer scholarships.. But bottom line the students pay to be on stage while the producers make money from the Kids and their parents. The company is also busy casting "ringers" - who they pad their productions with. These ringers don't pay to be in the shows and at times are paid to be part of the production. Consider these thoughts before awarding this company any honors.
I saw this group's work for the first time this month when I attended their production of West Side Story. This age group is the future, which is of course an overused phrase, but I was truly thrilled for the future of Music Theatre. I had two friends involved with the show so while I was visiting from LA, my family and I wanted to be supportive. I'm a Music Theatre actress/singer with Broadway credits, my husband is a composer and my daughter attends a performing arts high school in LA. We were all so impressed and so pleased that we happened to be in town during the run of the show. We had a delightful evening and were so taken with the attention to details and the acting commitment of the company. We cared about the characters and felt a true cohesiveness in the company as actors and as characters. What a lucky group of young adults to be a part of this company with what is undoubtably a group of dedicated professionals calling the shots. If I lived in the area I would love to be a part of what is going on in this company. Seeing talented kids like this is invigorating and reminds me of why I got into this business in the first place. It's exciting to see them at this stage with so much ahead of them. Bravo to all involved!
I've been watching the work of YMTC for 3 or 4 years and love the committed and honest performances that Jennifer and her crew constantly get from her casts. The students are engaged with tough issues and tough musical material and the struggle to grapple with this type of content and difficulty (musically, emotionally, and conscientiously) is what makes this work a valuable and exciting night of live theater.
YMTC is successful because the expectations on the young performers are not lowered just because they're younger than most professionals. This not only allows the performers to grow artistically and personally depending on the demands of the particular material, but allows it choose challenging repertoire that is not even tackled by local professional companies. They've performed several Bay Area and world premiere performances in the last few seasons, and they only get better and better. They have a rigorous rehearsal process focused on the performers (equally on acting, singing and dancing), and they always come through with very high quality productions. There is a term they use sometimes that gets to the heart of what they do "Excellent training through excellent productions." It has a real impact on the youth they teach (they avoid the term "kids" when referring to their young performers), and audiences are completely astounded not just by the production value, but by the passion and genuineness of the performers.
YMTC has incredible energy, and is inspirational for youth and adults. Their productions are first rate, and the talent seen in the youth is exceptional. I came in as a lighting designer for their production of "Ragtime" earlier this year, and was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of everyone, including the youth, involved. There is a great element of enthusiasm for their craft and sharing it with others, and an educational element as well in the subject matter, with a talkback of questions and answers after the performance between a few of the performers, directors and interested audience members after the show. Am truly impressed by this exceptional organization.
YMTC! Hooray! I have been voted best teacher in the San Francisco East Bay Area. So I know a thing or 2 about what's out there for youth theatre. At my first YMTC show I was expecting to be bored and was actually stunned! This was a musical I'd seen on Broadway and admired but the YMTC production had a vitality and spirit that illuminated the show in a way I had not experienced. I was first an audience member at YMTC, thanks to one of my former students Alix Feinsod who was in the shows. YMTC's choices of shows with themes such as a coal mining massacre, racism and lynching seem a bit much. So perhaps you understand my concern. As an African-American much of this touches on my own socio-emotional well being.This is not only a powerful lesson for its' young performers but for its' audience members as well. The director and cast handle the challenges inherent brilliantly. Don't get me wrong it isn't always serious. There is also much joy and exuberance in every YMTC show. Like a mirror in real life as we view ourselves we laugh and we cry. Parents often ask me what is the next step for my child, the budding young performer. I recommend YMTC time and time again. It is simply the best.---Russell Wright
As a middle school drama teacher I have had the opportunity to work closely with YMTC. They provide a level of instruction in musical theater that, to my knowledge, cannot be found anywhere else. I enthusiastically recommend that all my students interested in musical theater get involved with YMTC. Their scholarship support is outstanding, which allows many children the opportunity to receive a first class education in musical theater at a price they can afford. YMTC maintains a supportive, nurturing theatrical community despite the fact that their production values are through the roof.