MyCYT Story 2020 Branch Winner: RILEY PUGH

The CYT National MyCYT Story 2020 competition results ARE IN! Over the next few days, we will be announcing the 6 Branch Winners (in no particular order), leading up to the big reveal of which contestant will claim the title as the 2020 National Winner!

Our first 2020 Branch Winner announcement is: RILEY PUGH from CYT Fredericksburg! Check out Riley’s full story entry below:

Dear CYT,

        Thank you for making me who I am today. If it was not for Michael Brennan, CYT Alumni, for encouraging me to join CYT at a CYT vendor in Spotsylvania Towne Center during a Kids Expo, I would not have had the opportunity to perform on a stage ever. CYT has helped and impacted me in different ways, but most importantly it has helped find myself. In 2011, I saw my first show Mulan Jr. which CYT Fredericksburg was putting on at the time. After watching the show, I whispered into my mom’s ears, “I want to be up there one day.” After 4 years of CYT classes, I finally was confident enough to audition for my first show. In 2015, I auditioned for the winter show, Seussical the Musical. When I arrived at the audition, people wanted to get to know me already. Being a quiet kid in elementary school you are always going to be ignored , but not at CYT. The first steps of my audition were when I walked up to the mic, nervously, then I opened my mouth to slate (to introduce myself). For my first audition song, I chose to sing “Consider Yourself” from Oliver. Part of the lyrics say “Consider yourself at home, consider yourself one of the family.” How ironic that I finally found my home and my family after my first audition. When I walked off the stage, tons of parents and their kids were cheering for me. Even my mom was crying and as a result, I also cried tears of joy. This is what my mom had always wanted for me for years. She wanted to get me into an organization where I would feel like myself. That organization was CYT. The next step in the audition process was callbacks. You may be asking yourself “what is a callback?” which I did as well. I had always heard that if you did not get a callback then that does not mean you are in the show. As a result, it would not be the end of the world if I did not get one. However, I received a callback for one of the leading characters, JoJo. At callbacks, I met new people and I finally found my new home. A few days later, the cast list came out. I received roles in the Jungle ensemble and Circus ensemble. Once I stepped on the stage for the first time, that was when my journey to finding myself began!

My favorite memory from Seussical was receiving the Spark Plug Award at the Strike Party. This was and still is a CYT National Award and it is awarded to a student who lights up the stage every time they walk on and off the stage. Cori Briggs, CYT Alumni, gave me this award and to this day, I am forever grateful for this award as it has given me more confidence on the stage. Walking up to receive that award felt like I was walking up to get a Tony Award. I am forever thankful for this show and people I met along the way.

By the time rehearsals came around, I knew that CYT was the place I wanted to be at. And for the last 9 years, this has been true. The walls in my room eventually became the home to cast photos, playbills, and memorabilia. Most of the day I listened to show tunes and sang, danced, and acted inside and outside. My parents questioned if I was all right because they had never seen this other side of me. You could call me a Theatre Geek! I have had the opportunity to grow and find myself in the roles I have played. Some of my most memorable roles were Roger in 101 Dalmatians (my first lead), Banzai in Lion King Jr., and a Featured Dancer in Singin’ in the Rain.

CYT has made me into a more confident person and performer. I’ve also made some of my best friends at CYT. From making long-lasting relationships to touching God through praying and worship on Saturday afternoon rehearsals, the love and support of this organization saved me. I thank God and CYT for always pushing me to my limits. A quote I try to live by is “When you have confidence, you can do anything.” I truly believe that if I did not have the confidence to audition, I would not have been able to do what I do today. Theatre has changed me and it can for you as well. Thank you again CYT!

Sincerely, Riley (the kid who found himself).

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