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Alumni Spotlight

MATILDA at Olney Theatre Center Spotlights YAA Talent

MATILDA at Olney Theatre Center Spotlights YAA Talent

YAA students, Ellie Coffey and Ella Coulson on Opening Night of MATILDA

YAA students, Ellie Coffey and Ella Coulson on Opening Night of MATILDA

Until July 28th, Olney Theatre Center will be performing MATILDA. We here at Young Artists of America are particularly excited about this production because 7 YAA-affiliated creatives are part of the show. This includes two current students (Ellie Coffey and Ella Coulson), two YAA Alum ( Tiziano D’Affuso and Michael Mainwaring), and three current/recent YAA faculty members (Rayanne Gonzales, Tracy Lynn Olivera, and Chris Youstra). On July 4th, 70 of our students attended the performance.

To honor this great relationship with Olney Theatre Center, we sat down with their Associate Artistic Director of Music Theatre and MATILDA’s Music Director, Chris Youstra (who was recently profiled in The Washington Post by Nelson Pressley), to learn more about the show and what he loves about YAA.

 
Chris Youstra

Chris Youstra

Why did you all choose this production now?

We thought it would be a fun summer show for our audiences! Jason (Loewith, Olney’s Artistic Director) and I are both big Roald Dahl fans and Tim Minchin's (MATILDA’s Composer and Lyricist) music is so much fun.

Have you found a certain quality in working with the YAA alum and current students in the production? If so, can you elaborate?

YAA alumni tend to be VERY professional and quite talented singers. I have been impressed with all of them!!!

For whom is this production best suited?

Probably for children who are at least 7 or 8 but we are finding that adults enjoy it a lot as well. The humor is so smart and we have top actors in this production (as we try for all of our productions).

To our students reading this looking to get cast in your next productions, what would you tell them?

Continue to work in all 3 disciplines of singing, acting AND dancing and make sure to show off your own uniqueness in the audition. Directors want talented actors but also interesting people as well.

Anything else you'd like to articulate about YAA and Olney's partnership?

We always love having you join us -- your work is wonderful and I always enjoy your performances!!!!

70 YAA students at the July 4th show

70 YAA students at the July 4th show

A YAA Alum in the Spotlight (in NYC)!

YAA Alum, Mateo Ferro with Artistic Director and Co-Founder of YAA, Rolando Sanz

YAA Alum, Mateo Ferro with Artistic Director and Co-Founder of YAA, Rolando Sanz

On the first day of our first session of Summer Performing Arts Intensives, we thought it would fitting to share some wonderful news about an alum to the program, Mateo Ferro!

This week our Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Rolando Sanz, saw Mateo on stage in New York City alongside his cast mates including Helen Hunt, Christopher Jackson, Javier Munoz, and Andrea Burns in Encores! Off Center presentation of Working: The Musical at New York City Center.

The cast of Working: The Musical including YAA alum, Mateo Ferro and award-winning actors like Helen Hunt.

The cast of Working: The Musical including YAA alum, Mateo Ferro and award-winning actors like Helen Hunt.

This is the most recent in a step of incredible professional roles he’s landed since our summer program in 2017, beginning with Kennedy Center’s production of In the Heights. We are so proud of Mateo and the accomplishment of his dreams!