New Jersey Youth Theatre


d/b/a WYACT
656 Westfield Avenue
Westfield, NJ 07090
County: Union


Mr. Theodore J. Agress

Grant Amount


Program Area



Grant Details

To provide in 2014 quality in-school/after-school artist-in-residence programs and audition-protocol workshops in underserved communities; professional, affordable theatre-arts classes for youth (ages 8-18+) at NJYT's studios in Roselle Park, NJ, running 8 months annually and culminating in two student recitals at school's year-end; and a professional-level, fully produced production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Oklahoma!' for presentation at 2 legitimate theatres in New Jersey and featuring exclusively emerging, young talent from across the state.

Organization Background

The Mission of New Jersey Youth Theatre (NJYT) is: 1) to PROVIDE professional caliber theatre-arts training and stage experience to aspiring, young artists and technicians, inspiring their passion, creative expression, and life-long appreciation for the arts; and 2) to PRODUCE on the live stage, for audiences throughout New Jersey, a diverse repertory of theatrical classics, lesser-known significant works and new works, demonstrating and promoting the cultural richness of America's heritage.

New Jersey Youth Theatre, formerly Westfield Young Artists' Cooperative Theatre, Inc. (WYACT) was founded in 1991. Tuition-free professional performance opportunities, workshops, residencies, and modestly priced theatre-arts classes constitute its programming. Participating students learn all aspects of craft to achieve the highest standards in drama, dance, improvisation, musical theatre and vocal performance. Students also gain the opportunity to learn from seasoned artistic and technical professionals and prepare for performance in a Broadway-caliber production.

For over 14 years, NJYT's critically acclaimed productions at NJPAC and elsewhere identified NJYT with the highest standards of excellence as a major, training ground for young talent, producer of professional youth theatre and collaborator in bringing diverse theatrical fare to audiences throughout NJ. Peter Filichia, major critic for Broadway's, said 'They are among the greatest achievements Jersey theatre has seen in years.' NJYT is a recipient of NJ State Council on the Arts' 'Citation of Excellence' in recognition of its artistry, governance and public benefit.

NJYT is led by co-founder and Artistic Director Cynthia Meryl, also Master Teacher for NJYT's Performing Arts School. A professional theatre arts educator for over 40 years, she has garnered critical acclaim for her work training young artists and directing NJYT's productions at NJPAC and other professional NJ theatres. Sherry Alban, longstanding charter member, performer, choreographer and faculty member of Princeton Ballet and member of the dance faculty at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers for the past thirty-five years, is also the dance choreographer for NJYT's mainstage productions. 2014 will mark her 15th season with NJYT. Theodore J. Agress, veteran Broadway performer and NJYT's co-founder, serves as Executive Director and Producer. He governs all administrative and production operations.

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