Abbey Bernard (Owl) is 12 and in 7th grade at Chandler Online Academy, in Gilbert. This is her second VYT show, having recently been cast in Matilda (Big Kid). She has also appeared in Queen Creek Performing Arts Center’s Frozen Jr. (Oaken), Little Mermaid Jr. (Flotsam), Alice in Wonderland (Mad Hatter), Beauty & The Beast Jr. (Rug), Annie (May), Madagascar (King Julian) and Lion King (Timon). Queen Creek Performance Group, KREW, voice, dance, art and cuddling with her two dogs! Abbey would like to pursue a career on Broadway. About her role, “I like that Owl is smart and wise and gets to live in a cool treehouse!”
Grace Bush (Kanga) is 17 and a senior at Metropolitan Arts Institute, in Phoenix, where she’s involved in photography and vocals. This is her 6th show on stage at VYT. The previous four were Matilda (Ensemble), Polkadots (Mama Square), The Hobbit (Elven Queen), Alice in Wonderland (Lady) and Charlotte’s Web (Ensemble). Grace has also been on the Tech Crew for multiple VYT shows including: Newsies, Annie, Little Women, Shrek the Musical, and Madagascar. A member of VYTeens, she also likes photography and aspires to be a photojournalist. About her role, “I like that Kanga is a motherly figure and can never stop talking about her baby, Roo.”
Kylan Chait (Eeyore) is 13 and in the 7th grade at AZVA. This is his 6th VYT show. He has also been in our productions of They Chose Me (Marcus), Matilda (Big Kid), The Little Mermaid (Flounder), The Wizard of Oz (Munchkin) and Madagascar (Mason Monkey) as well as The Phoenix Theatre Company’s production of Elf (Michael), Limelight’s The Lion King (Simba) and The Little Mermaid (Sebastian) and Theater Works’ Les Misérables (Gavroche) for which he was an NYA and ariZoni nominee. He was also in East Valley Children’s Theatre’s production of Seussical Jr. (JoJo) for which he was an ariZoni Rising Star winner. Kylan enjoys reading, drawing and spending time with his brother and two dogs. He hopes to one day perform on Broadway and become an EMT. IG: kylantristanchait About his role, “I love that I get to play the same character Emma Stone played when she did this show.”
Olivia Fearey (Rabbit) is a 12-year-old 7th grader at Madison Number One where she is in the REACH program. This is her 11th show at VYT! Some of her VYT credits include They Chose Me (Sharla), Matilda (Big Kid), Young Fiona in Shrek the Musical, Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz, Piglet in A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail, and a Lost Boy in Peter Pan. She was also seen in Fun Home at Phoenix Theatre as Young Alison. Olivia loves to dance, sing, read, gymnastics, and spend time with her 7 pets! The jury is still out on what she would like to be when she grows up, but it definitely includes being an actress on both Broadway and TV. What she likes most about her role, “His ability to focus and organize.”
Emily Jacoby (Pooh) is 17 and in 12th grade at Perry High School. This is her 3rd show with VYT, having been previously cast in They Chose Me (Amy Jasper) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. She has also been in Mesa Community College’s Shrek The Musical (Ensemble), Perry High School’s High School Musical (Taylor), Limelight’s Thoroughly Modern Millie (Bun Foo) and Actor’s Youth Theatre’s Ghost (Ortisha). She’s active in drama club, Perry Theatre Company and hopes to teach theatre to deaf students in the future. Of her role she says, “I love that my character can bring a smile to any child’s face with their silly antics and warm hugs.”
Clair Likes (Roony the Racoon) is 11 and in 6th grade at Basha Elementary School, in Chandler. This is her first VYT show. She was previously in Chandler High Theatre/Chandler Center for the Arts productions of Les Misérables (Little Cosette) and Seussical (Elephant Bird) and Greasepaint’s productions of Aladdin Jr. (Apple Vendor), Elf Jr. (Shawanda the Elf) and Madagascar (Mort) as well as Studio 3/Limelight’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Ensemble). What does she like most about her character? “I love animals and I get to be a furry animal!”
Maddie Sue Miller (Bebe the Badger) lives in Gilbert, is 10 years old and in 5th grade. This is her 3rd VYT show. Her first time on stage with us was in Annie (Abigail) and she was in this season’s opener, Matilda (Hortensia). She also appeared in MCC’s Shrek (Young Fiona), Hale Centre Theatre’s Annie (Molly) and Actor’s Youth Theatre’s 42nd Street (Lorraine Fleming), Legally Blonde Jr. (Delta Nu/Ensemble) and Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. (Alice). Outside of school, she’s involved in competitive dance, piano, guitar and Homeschool Co-Op. She aspires to be a theatre actress on Broadway. What does she like about being a Woodland Friend? “I like the fun character and the make-up and costumes!”
Vivian Paige Nichols (Piglet) is 12 and a 7th-grader at Arizona School for the Arts, where she is in Broadway Club, theatre, choir and dance. This is her 8th production with VYT! She was previously in Matilda (Matilda), A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail (Piglet), Annie (Kate), Madagascar the Musical (Ensemble), Wizard of Oz (Lullaby Munchkin), Secret Garden (Children’s Choir) and Charlotte’s Web (Lamb). She has appeared in her school’s production of Honk Jr. (Cat) and Arizona Opera’s Das Rheingold (Children’s Ensemble). Vivian would like to be on Broadway in the future. What does she like about Piglet? “The friendships that Piglet makes with each of the characters. The relationship between Pooh and Piglet is my favorite.”
Jayden Presnal (Spazz the Squirrel) is 10 and in 5th grade at Desert Harbor Elementary School, in Peoria, where he's involved in choir. This is his very first VYT production, although he was in John Paul Theatre's production of "La Ofrenda" (Alex). Why did he audition for this VYT show? "I heard they are an amazing theatre with lots of history behind them and I wanted to be a part of the fun, education and experience others had had with VYT." And what does he like most about being a Woodland Friend? “They sing a lot and this is one of my biggest passions.”
Prescott Smidt (Tigger) is 16 and a Sophomore at Arizona School for the Arts, where he’s in Thespian Society. This is the 11th VYT show Prescott has been a part of. Others include They Chose Me (Deck Crew), Matilda (Children’s Entertainer/Ensemble), Freaky Friday (Adult Ensemble/Mr. Blumen/Hannah’s Dad/Waiter), Tuck Everlasting (Ensemble), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Father/Watchman/Lucius Clark), A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail 2017 and 2018 (Christopher Robin), Newsies (Bill/Man/Policeman), Annie (Ensemble) and Little Women (Tech Crew). He has also been Assistant Stage Manager for ASA’s HONK! and Ozma of Oz and was in Antigone (Tiresias) as well as Childsplay’s Into the Woods (The Baker), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka), Beauty and the Beast (The Beast) and Mary Poppins (Michael Banks). What does he love about this character? “I love Tigger’s ‘bouncy’ personality and how he brings so much energy to the story. I love that I have been given the opportunity to grow in this role and to portray this iconic character.”
Charlotte Specter (Roo) is 8 and in 3rd grade at Cochise Elementary School, in Scottsdale. This is her first VYT show, although she did play Tiki the Seagull in our Summer Camp production of Pirates Past Noon Kids. She was also in Master Ballet Academy’s Nutcracker (Little Angel/Small Flower) and was Ensemble for Life in the City’s revues, Rainbow Connection and Jesus Christ Superstar. She studies ballet at Master Ballet Academy and takes piano lessons. She hopes to be a farmer and a film actress, some day. What does she like most about playing Roo? “The thing I like most about Roo is that Roo is very energetic and positive – and always with his mom!”
Slye Sulka (Gina the Gopher) is 9 and in 4th grade. She was previously in our 2017 production of A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail, in which she played Roo. When asked why she auditioned for this show, she said, "Because I want to be a better actress and have more experience. She likes the dancing, singing, costumes and characters in the show and what does she hope audience take away from it? "I hope they think it's the best play ever and get more into the Christmas spirit!"
Justin Vaught (Christopher Robin) is 17 and goes to Desert Vista High School. He is in VYTeens and this is his 14th time on the VYT stage! He has also been in our productions of Matilda (Ensemble), Freaky Friday (Student Ensemble), Tuck Everlasting (Ensemble), Newsies (Sniper), Annie (Ensemble), The Hobbit (Thorin Oakenshield), Shrek (Pied Piper/Ensemble), Wizard of Oz (Flying Monkey), Alice in Wonderland (Knave), Emperor’s New Clothes (Ensemble), Peter Pan (Slightly), Snow White (Scotty) and Seussical (Little Who). Additionally, he was cast in Hale Centre Theatre’s Christmas Carol (Peter Cratchit) and Desert Vista High School’s Wizard of Oz (Wizard), The Crucible (Reverent Parris) and Addams Family (Ensemble) as well as Plan B Entertainment’s Les Misérables (Gavroche).
Lanie Witman (Fifi the Fox) is 11 and in 6th grade at Arizona School for the Arts, where she participates in choir, theatre, piano and Arts & Crafts Club. This is her 2nd VYT show. She was also in our 2017 production of A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail (Woodland Friend) and Greasepaint’s productions of Frozen Jr. (Ensemble), Aladdin (Ensemble), Madagascar (Foosa) and Annie (Orphan). She was also in her school’s production of Honk (Jaybird) and the Arizona Opera’s La Boehme (Children’s Chorus). What does she like about being a Woodland Friend? “I like that those characters get to sing and be on stage a lot!”
Samantha Zell (Betty the Beaver) is 11 and in 6th grade at Arizona School for the Arts, where she is on the swim team and studies dance, voice and piano. This is her 3rd VYT show. She was previously in our productions of Annie (Tessie) and A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail (Woodland Friend). She has also performed in Spotlight Theatre’s Mulan Jr. (Cricket) for which she received an NYA nomination and Greasepaint’s Frozen Jr. (Oaken). She was also in Desert Foothills Theater’s Bye Bye Birdie (Randi MacAfee), Heartlight Productions’ Wizard of Oz (Toto) and Notre Dame High School’s Shrek (Little Fiona) for which she also received an NYA nomination.