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Quarterly Notes

I'M DREAMING OF A WHITE (& Red & Green & Blue & Yellow) CHRISTMAS
The Magic of Christmas, The Young Americans' holiday spectacular which just celebrated its 12th season at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, underwent a major overhaul this year. The results were nothing short of…well…spectacular.

Those fortunate enough to attend the Young American's 50th Anniversary show in May 2012 were present at the premiere of the group's most impressive technical investment to date. A 100 panel LED wall unit was unveiled, in the form of four screens, providing stunning backdrops and ambience for the evening's performances. Now comprised of over 146 twenty inch squares and pieced together like LEGO's, the newly designed 45-foot rolling screen took center stage at The Magic of Christmas, breathing exciting new life into this holiday classic.

Replacing the artfully designed backdrops of the past dozen years - the bakery, toy shop, bookstore, and baby boutique, not to mention three sections of beautifully painted stained glass cathedral windows - the LED screens were mastered to convey a sense of warmth and intimacy yet on a grander, more technically modern day scale. Don Strom, Director of Operations and technical consultant, says of the exciting new set-up, "We were able to take the traditional aspect of the holiday show and mix it with a more contemporary feel, but (the great thing is) it won't distract from the relationship the audience develops with the performers." In fact, the goal is to strengthen the relationship between The Young Americans and the greater Los Angeles area, enthralling spectators, proving that the group is on the cutting edge of technical development and encouraging theater goers to continue to seek out the organization as an indispensable part of the Southern California arts scene. The Young Americans' media manager, TJ Stoltz, digitally created over two hours of video which drew the audience into the story of Christmas as told by Bill and Robyn Brawley, Milton Anderson and today's crazy talented performers. Stoltz devoted countless hours, 20 hours on the Polar Express scene alone, to developing a poignant storyboard crafted of over 2,500 images. Depicting previously photographed pictures of buildings in real-life Harbor Springs, Michigan, the locale for the story, Stoltz created an entire city to captivate onlookers as the show progressed. For example, Kilwin's, the local chocolate company in Northern Michigan, was the inspiration for the Christmas bakery building. Harbor Springs church was the basis for the sacred choral section of the show. Perhaps most special, however, was the toy shop window scene created piece by piece from an original water color. "Personally," says Stoltz, "in addition to enhancing the warmth of the show, I hope that the magic of the background made the audience feel like a kid again."

The LED screens were purchased, not only as a creative technical upgrade, but also as an investment. Since their acquisition in early 2012, Strom has rented them at numerous venues including events for Billabong, Toyota and Facebook as a method for The Young Americans to create revenue. To date, the LED screens have generated enough returns to have them paid off in another twelve months. At that time, the screens will provide continued monetary assistance for the group.

It is smart business and creative decisions like these which will continue to propel The Young Americans into the forefront of the international music landscape in the coming years. But for now, onlookers were able to sit back and enjoy as this innovation carried them into the holidays with fresh and inspiring style. We hope you were able to join The Young Americans as they transported audience members into the wonder…the joy…the majesty…the magic…of the Christmas season.

The International Music Outreach tours continue to exceed The Young Americans' mission statement: "To provide our talented Young American student performers with education in music, dance, performance and teaching methods…to use this training, and the good will and optimism of these young people to support music in schools…providing experiences and tools to students that yield individual, personal growth and understanding." In other words, The Young Americans are rockin' this world of ours, transforming lives through music education and performance.

A glance at the fall touring statistics alone is impressive:

  • Two international and one national tour
  • Tour dates from September 10 – November 13
  • Outreach to the Central United States, Japan, China and Europe, mostly Germany
  • 122 total Young American cast members
  • More than 10,000 participants worldwide in only three months

This didn't include the local outreach happening at home with the 42 resident cast members who have served Southern California youth this fall in Los Alamitos, Cerritos and young people considered "at social risk" at the Rio Contiguo High School.

There is no denying that the group is changing lives. On the outside, it may appear that the workshops are no more than a terrific lesson in team building, enthusiasm for the arts and education through the learning of notes and steps. However, there is something much deeper happening in the lives of the participants and the Young American performers. Brooke Thompson, Company Manager for the fall European tour, said it beautifully in a recent email to the Young American staff. "Our cast was given the incredible opportunity to do a workshop in Estonia (which) makes us the pioneer tour cast to reach this country. We embarked on a journey through a country in which JOY is not as apparent as it is through our hearts in the U.S. A place in which people carry the weight of the world in their core and bury it deep within their souls. A remarkable experience. Everything that we needed and that Tallinn Estonia needed as well. Pure perfection."

To date, the international music outreach tours have touched over 500,000 lives in nearly all 50 states in addition to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Ukraine, Gibraltar, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Lativa, Lithuania, Japan, China, Hong Kong and now Estonia. Students are growing. Students are changing. Students are inspired. Students are contributing. That's a mission worth continuing.

"Are you there?" the voice crackled over the PA system in Rehearsal Room #1 at the Young Americans College Campus, piped in via telephone call from Harbor Springs, Michigan. It was Milton C. Anderson welcoming the 2012 Freshmen Class at a Meet & Greet for all current Young Americans on September 3rd, 2012, Labor Day. Once Mr. Anderson signed off, Bill Brawley, introduced the rest of the staff, college faculty, associate directors, and board members. He asked the Freshmen Class, still affectionately known as New Kids, from where they had transferred. Thirty-four US states and eleven countries were represented. Then the fun began.

Old Kids serenaded, belted, rapped and emoted their way into the hearts of all listening. While Adam Brown, veteran Old Kid just home from the Boyne Highlands Dinner Theater, crooned standards, choreographer Robyn Brawley pulled dancers up one by one to jete', arabesque, and pirouette to the rhythm of his ballad. The beat boxing followed. Dancers were flipping, popping, and breaking in freestyle dance as the audience of over 200 cheered. Robyn Brawley ended the segment with a surprise pull from the crowd, spotting good friend and past director, Eric "Spider" Paul in the corner of the room. As he danced closer and closer to stage from the audience, he finished with a 10 foot slide on his head across the room. The audience jumped to their feet!

Next Bill gathered choral singers who had completed summer performances in Japan, Germany, Boyne Highlands and Summer Camp World Tour. Beginning the conducting then handing it off to each director who traveled with a group during the summer, five directors conducted over the course of a four minute segment, illustrating the collaborative philosophy that Bill Brawley has made his hallmark.

After a 15 minute break, the New Kids got their chance to shine. All 109 singers and dancers performed samples of their best work to the audience. It was clear that the talent will be strong moving into the future. Meet & Greet was an incredible way to connect generations of Young Americans as the group continues to grow and change.

The Freshman Class began their college coursework the following week. It's a heavy load for them in their Fall semester but worth it as they navigate through rehearsals, classes, finals, and acclimating to life as a Young American. Most exciting for the New Kids at the current juncture will be the completion of the show learned from their fall weekend rehearsals. The New Kids Show was performed the night before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, November 21st, at the La Mirada Theater for the Performing Arts.

Rich Leist, New Kid 1998, has been busy working in LA in the years following his time with the Young Americans. He got his start as a Production Assistant on The Weakest Link thanks to a recommendation by Mark L. Walberg, fellow YA alum and host of Antiques Roadshow on PBS. Once his foot was in the door, Rich took off running…literally. In addition to producing some of the most popular game-style reality shows on TV (Fear Factor, Wipeout, 101 Ways to Leave a Game Show) and casting others (Deal or No Deal, Show Me the Money, Kid Nation), he has run some 15 marathons and completed two Ironman Triathlons. He competes always in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (Click link here to support.) But no matter how busy he is, Rich always makes time to recommend, train and mentor other Young Americans in production work. To date, he has helped more than a dozen alumni get work in the entertainment industry. Rich credits the Young Americans with "equipping me best to being able to adapt to any situation, communicate with any type of person while casting for a show or working to accomplish a goal."

Rich_Leist   Rich_Leist


"Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul." - Plato

From The Young Americans website:

Clinical research shows that music programs achieve the following:

  • Enhance a young person's self-esteem
  • Help develop critical thinking and self-discipline skills
  • Improve students' cognitive development
  • Enhance basic math and reading abilities
  • Increase school attendance

International Music Outreach Workshop Tours - Spring 2013:
Visit for real-time stories, pics and videos from upcoming tours!

USA - January to March:
Our U.S. cast will present the 2013 Spring Tour throughout the West Coast & Central States to visit schools in California, Arizona, Utah, and Nebraska. click here for full itinerary

United Kingdom, Rep. of Ireland & South Africa - January to April:
The YAs will return to United Kingdom and Rep. of Ireland before travelling to South Africa for our debut visit. click here for full itinerary

Japan - January to April:
After working with earthquake and tsunami victims this fall, a full cast will return to present workshops throughout Japan. click here for full itinerary

With this season coming to an end, The Young Americans continues to grow and expand like never before. Last year alone, the group staged over 300 performances in 120 cities, across 11 countries and 4 continents. With 2013 right around the corner, the production and college offices are working hard to prepare for 3 tours departing for the USA, United Kingdom and South Africa, and Japan with around 130 YA's hitting the road. Our Resident Company in Southern California will be teaching and performing for young students with at-risk students from the Orange County Department of Education's ACCESS Division (Alternative, Community, and Correctional Education Schools and Services), as well as local performances at the La Mirada Theatre. It's going to be another great year!!

Special Thanks
The Young Americans thanks everyone who has supported our outreach tours scholarship fund, campus renovation, and additional projects that have occurred during 2012. Whether it's donating time to our many projects, in-kind donations like equipment, or actual fund donations - we couldn't do it without you!

If you would like more information about our Giving Programs and how you can help us, contact us at

YAs – Germany
YAs – Japan
SupportMusic - NAMM & MENC

The Young Americans
1132 Olympic Drive
Corona, California 92881
+1 (951) 493-6753


The Young Americans would like to extend their first Grace Note to the memory of Marcia Lisle in thanksgiving for her friendship, generosity and support. Marcia opened her home and heart to many Young American performers, and it is with great fondness and appreciation that we remember her beautiful life.

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