MEET THE CAST
Listed in alphabetical order.
Grumpy Old Man, Pinky
Brian Jackson first graced the stage in The Little Gray Pony as a first grader. His last stage role was in a high school production of Our Town where he went on as George Gibbs after the other actor got sick during intermission.
Currently in CovidWorld, Brian enjoy sporting his Star Wars sweats and werewolf slippers while creating LEGO magic. He is looking forward to a holiday tipple of eggnog and warm chocolate chip cookies.
Sometime in the murky future Brian will make more LEGO things and figure out how to get out of performing in It’s A Wonderful Life for YTN. (Unless someone gets sick at intermission.)
Alumni/Current Teaching Artist
Carson Beck is a voice actor, audio engineer, producer, musician, and connoisseur of great whiskey. He’s been passing the time in the quarantine labyrinth that is 2020 by learning to play MMORPG’s, recording and mixing records, and continue to voice national campaigns for Taco Bell, Capitol One, Fox NFL, and CBS.
2004-2013 — Actor, Musician, Techie, ASM, AD (in order of involvement)
Favorite role was a tie between Granny in The Big Bad Wolf (And How He Got That Way), and Toad in A Year With Frog & Toad. Favorite show was Tommy because it was kind of a unique ambition for YTN at the time.
Connor McKenna is a current junior at NYU Tisch studying playwriting and linguistics. He worked with YTN beginning in 2008 and continued until 2018 when he graduated from high school. He spent most of his time acting, but in his time there also directed, teched, and assisted camps.
Favorite YTN show/role: Peter Pan in Peter Pan.
Mr. Gower, Eustace, Mrs. Hatch, Mrs. Thompson
Cory Southwell first graced the stage as Friar Tuck in Robin Hood at age 8 as part of a summer drama program. In his last acting role, Cory was typecast as Winnie the Pooh in House at Pooh Corner in 2009. It was... not good. Ever since, Cory has enjoyed behind the scenes wizardry as a director, stage manager, and prop artisan.
Currently in CovidWorld, Cory creates LEGO masterpieces, paints, and dances to Kylie Minogue in the kitchen while sporting a dress shirt, bow tie, pajama pants, and a robe (bath, chiffon, or Jedi.) He looks forward to adding some Holiday Truffles or Peanut Butter Blossoms—carefully.
Sometime in the murky future is NOW for Cory. You can check out his directorial triumph in Sidekick Island, now streaming!
ISAIAH ANDERSON JR.
Isiah currently serves as the Parks Department Recreation Program Coordinator for Citywide Performing Arts, and the 2019-2019 Director of the Theatre Program at Garfield HS. He was also the Teen Development Leader/Educator for the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute after-school Hearts and Minds program from 1990-2009. YTN show directed at YTN is – Hairspray.
Jeff Parkinson was a regular on the YTN stage from the age of 8 through high school, appearing in 17 YTN productions as well as being a member of Chaos Theory for 6 years. He is currently a BFA/Acting student at the University of Evansville.
Alumni/Former Development Director
(feat. Nakana as Nakana)
YTN actor 1998-2002: Guys & Dolls (General Cartwright), Grease (Jan), Into the Woods (Little Red)
YTN Business Manager 2012-2014
YTN Development Director 2014-2018
YTN highlights: When I was in high school, playing Jan & Little Red and then as a staff member producing some amazing Galas for YTN!
Jessi loves to paddle board, coach Crossfit, bake bread, and care for Old Man Nakana dog.
JOHN GORDON HILL
YTN Guardian Angel
Seattle native John Gordon Hill’s career as producer, director, cinematographer, composer, and educator spans nearly five decades. He has made scores of network dramatic shows and documentaries for Fox, Discovery, PBS, CBS, A&E, and Lifetime; numerous pieces for Microsoft, Vulcan, Intel, Philips, Kenworth, Nintendo and many others; and hundreds of television commercials. He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America. He is past Chair of the Board of Trustees of Cornish College of the Arts, lectures at the University of Washington, and has taught writing and film production at Seattle Central College. He was president of the board of Youth Theatre Northwest and has directed twelve plays there. He is the founder and a board member of the Mercer Island Center for the Arts. He is a composer of numerous film soundtracks, and choral compositions, and has produced classical CDs for major artists. He studies harpsichord and fortepiano and is a choral singer. He and his wife Ellen have three children and five grandchildren, and nearly all of them have been involved with YTN.
Former Executive Education Director
Ernie, Angry Man, Ed, Randall, Sherrif, Carter
Kate Swenson first graced the stage as a 2nd grader in the Wizard of Oz going from Serving Girl to Glinda the Good, when the kid playing Scarecrow quit. Kate, who had been performing ALL the roles in the Wizard of Oz in her basement for years, was very ready. Most recently, she appeared as grumpy French maid, Berte int Boeing Boeing at SecondStory Rep alongside Stephanie Bull (as they do not spend enough time together.)
Currently in CovidWorld, Kate enjoys sporting voluminous sweaters, pink slippers, and her spectacles while organizing her treasures, talking to her chickens, and occasionally writing things. She is aging her nog and recently whipped up some Lefse in preparation for holiday treats.
Sometime in the murky future, she will be directing The Wizard of Oz for YTN and contributing a cozy mystery for a collection with Martina Dalton. Her original play Sidekick Island is streaming through December 31 and you can read more about her plays at www.pinkllamadrama.com
Tily, Sam, Worried Woman
Katie McKenna first graced YTN’s Main Stage in the ensemble of Fiddler on the Roof in 1999. She works frequently in the Seattle area as a professional princess, bringing a variety of beloved characters to life for parties and events. She was slated to be a Silly Girl in Beauty and the Beast at Kitsap Forest Theatre this spring and looks forward to the postponed productions remounting in 2021.
Currently in CovidWorld, Katie participates in cosplay, wig styling, and makeup artistry. While creating amazing costumes and looks, she sports leggings and sweatshirts, her preferred non-princess wear. She is looking forward to some citrus shortbread cookies this holiday season.
Sometime in the murky future, (aka Saturday, February 27!) Katie is producing YTN’s The Story of Tonight Virtual Gala. She is putting together some amazing items and experiences for the auction as well as performances from YTN students and alumni. Get your tickets now!
Katie Parkinson lived at YTN for 15 years. She started off her acting career as Sandy in Annie and left as Emma Goldman in Ragtime. During her time at YTN, she was in 18 productions and spent five years in Chaos Theory. She also took classes, assisted camps, shredded papers, organized emergency contacts, performed at galas, made a few zombie cameos, and stole lots of Lacroix. Two years ago, she graduated and embarked on a new adventure as an acting conservatory student at SUNY Purchase. Now she’s back to crash on YTN’s virtual couch. She hopes you enjoy this show and whatever it is that you celebrate this time of year.
Alumni/Current Teaching Artist/Marketing Associate
Kim's first show with YTN was The Music Man and her favorite performance was Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. She pursued a BFA in Theatre Arts and later a post grad degree in Classical Acting. She is thrilled to be back at YTN as a director and teaching artist, as well as helping out with Marketing. Of the shows she's directed, among her favorites were Little Shop of Horrors, Sideways Stories, and the various Summer of Horror Films. When she's not working in the theatre she spends her time working as a ghost hunter, podcaster, and true crime enthusiast.
Former Executive Director
Manny Cawaling is an actor but most notably, the former Executive Director for Youth Theatre Northwest. After 10 years of raising money and the profile of YTN, he misses the daily work of ensuring children "find their light." YTN is a special treasure on Mercer Island and within King County. So, he's donating $500 at this fundraiser. Care to match him?
Megan is a New York based actor. She has been seen in the world premieres of: OPEN; DO YOU FEEL ANGER?; EDDIE AND DAVE; KENTUCKY; CUT; HAND TO GOD; and THE LAST CLASS: A JAZZERCIZE PLAY (which she also wrote). She was nominated for a Drama Desk award and named one of The New York Times Best Performances of 2019 for her portrayal of David Lee Roth in the hit off-broadway show EDDIE AND DAVE. During her time at YTN she was a student, actor, student director and teacher's assistant. After graduating high school she returned to YTN as an assistant director, receptionist, and interim registrar. As an actor, her favorite roles at YTN include: Avery in Charlotte's Web, Baba Yaga in Cinderella Stories, and Toad in Wind in the Willows.
Mike Lion first graced the stage as the Dancing Telephone in the 6th grade school play. He didn't have any lines, but people said he stole the show. He most recently appeared in a "diced" production of Pride and Prejudice with Dacha Theatre where the actors learned every role and a roll of the dice chose who played which role every night. On closing night, Mike triumphed in the role of Jane.
Currently in CovidWorld, Mike and his partner Emily created a Halloween installation where, over the course of October, a skeleton grew out of their yard bit by bit, and then on Halloween the skeleton was mowing the lawn. His quarantine wear includes comfy sweaters, pjs, and magnificent bedhead.
Sometime in the murky future, Mike will be presenting YTN’s Radio Drama he is currently directing, Emma and The West and The New Adventure of Sherlock Holmes. He will also be busy with Dacha Theatre In December and January for various online performances (dachatheatre.com). For the holidays, Mike has many plans including dreams of Panettone fruitcake and possibly watching It's a Wonderful Life for the first time before performing in it with YTN.
Executive Artistic Director
Dr. Campbell, Horace the Teller, Bert the Cop
Mimi Katano first graced the stage in Tokyo in 1973, in the titular role of the original production of The Snow Fairy. This was the first leading role Mimi played in her acting career, and her last until the 2013 production of The Realm of Whispering Ghosts. More often, Mimi is cast in supporting or featured roles that are funny and/or dance and/or are a bird.
Currently in CovidWorld, Mimi frequently sports UniQlo jersey pants, oversized sweaters and, most importantly, warm socks. She obsessively follows her favorite Japanese idol group ARASHI, enjoys physically poking her husband when he is least expecting it, teaching her 13-year-old how to mop, and organizing every little thing.
Sometime in the murky future she is looking forward to directing The Compleat The Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) for YTN’s teen conservatory live streaming in March. She is also slated to direct Suicide Forest for Washington Ensemble Theatre in 2021. Mimi will be enjoying her favorite holiday treat—a Japanese New Year’s tradition—broiled mochi with soy sauce and nori.
Mollie Parkinson was involved in YTN for 15 years, from age 3 to 18, and participated in many, many different things during her time there. This included acting in 18 YTN productions, improvising in Chaos Theory for 6 years, performing in (and baking for) many galas, assisting a few camps, singing in 2 cabarets, and even directing one! This production will be her first act as a YTN alum, as she just recently graduated last March. Currently, she is studying Theatre and Psychology at Northeastern University in Boston. She is excited to be the only person to reprise her role from the original It's A Wonderful Life production, and she hopes that you enjoy the show!
Current Teaching Artist/Staff of Years Gone By
Nicole is a native of Germany and first started working at YTN when a Theatre Schmeatre friend said that they were "looking for help in the Box Office of a kid's theatre on Mercer Island" for their run of Wind in the Willows. She took the "'Island Crest Way" exit as directed and never came back. Since then, she has been a Stage Manager at YTN from 1999-2003 with some favorites being Guys and Dolls and recently Lion King. She was the Assistant Education Director 2001-2003. She directed on the Mainstage from 2003-2009 with Footloose being one of her favorites. All along, and for every class, camp and show she has always worked first and foremost as a Teacher.
PHILIP G. SMITH
Philip has been working in various support roles at YTN since 1999: pre-show-announcer; MC; fight choreographer; pit musician; carpenter; errand boy; garbage man; and copywriter. Curiously, this is the exact amount of time that his wife, Mimi, has been at YTN. He is delighted to be part of this production with his extended YTN family.
Ray Larsen performed in maybe a dozen YTN shows between 1998 and 2005. Some highlights include How Things Work, The Pirate Play, Treasure Island, It's A Wonderful Life, and Sleepy Hollow. YTN gave him a love of the stage, a community of friends he holds to this day, and a home away from home. He was deeply inspired by the adults-of-YTN who chose to center their lives and careers around art making, community creation, and education. He has continued his stage life as a professional trumpeter, bandleader and composer. He also teaches music students at Cornish College of the Arts and runs the 4th and 5th grade instrumental music program at the Meridian School.
Alumni/Staff of Years Gone By
Sarah Eisenberg is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, who has been writing for the last three years on various animated shows. She was a staff writer on season 3 of Muppet Babies (coming out next year), and is currently freelancing on HBO Max’s Batwheels and Mattel’s 25th season of Thomas and Friends along with other unannounced shows. She’s also written on many other series including: Rusty Rivets, Hello Ninja, Middle School Moguls, and Unikitty! Sarah was also a writer’s assistant for Jessica Williams & Phoebe Robinson (HBO’s 2 Dope Queens) and she’s currently working on her first feature length screenplay -- a holiday themed romantic comedy. Sarah’s also getting married this year to her partner of 5 years and has had a funny time planning during the pandemic.
Timeline at YTN:
1997?! (Music Man) — 2008 as a student.
PLUS a couple shows post-student as an assistant director (Winnie The Pooh), stage manager (The Who’s Tommy) and an assistant teacher (Various).
Favorite YTN Show:
Once Upon A Mattress - I loved every minute of it! And I swear I’m still SHYYYYYY!
Stephanie Bull first graced the stage in second grade as Santa Anna in the play Texas Revolution. She was the only actor who memorized her lines. Most recently she appeared as Texas flight attendant, Gloria in in Boeing Boeing at SecondStory Rep (with the ever-fantastic Kate Swenson.) She memorized her lines for that role, too.
Currently in CovidWorld, Stephanie enjoys crocheting all the things while sporting yoga pants, messy buns, and subsisting on coffee, coffee, coffee.
Sometime in the murky future Stephanie is advancing to the regional round of the NATS vocal competition after placing first in the Advanced Adult Musical Theatre Section for the Puget Sound area. She is also nominated for Best Performer of the Decade (non-Equity) for the Seattle area Broadway World Awards. You can vote for her here: https://www.broadwayworld.com/seattle/voteregion.cfm For the holidays she plans to add cookies to her coffee regimen. She gets too sweaty doing readings, so she insisted on singing for this fundraiser.
SYDNEY RAE BLOSCH
Sydney Rae Blosch is a New York based actress who hails from Seattle, WA. She graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2018 & received her Bachelor of Music in Music Theatre. Sydney got her start at YTN in 2005/2006 (?) during a SummerStock Mainstage performance of Once on this Island & immediately fell in love with the stage & the incredible YTN community. Her favorite roles & shows are a tie between Ilse in Spring Awakening & Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray. YTN became Sydney’s home away from home up until she graduated high school but has found since that being a part of the YTN community wasn’t just for a brief moment but for life.
TINA LA PLANT
Former Artistic Director
Tina received her degree in performance from Western Washington University. She has been an actress and taught theater to young performers in and around Seattle and is currently working as the Drama Specialist at Bertschi School. Although she currently spends most of her time teaching, she has performed at the Annex Theater, The Empty Space Theater, !4/48-The Worlds Quickest Theater Festival, Theater Schmeater, Velvet Elvis Arts Lounge, The Market Theater as a member of TheaterSports and on the local sketch comedy show Almost Live. Most recently she received her Masters Degree in Integrated Arts and Education from the University of Montana.
I worked at YTN for 10 years, starting as a Kindergarten and Fun Friday's teacher way back in the Castle Room days through, taught many children and wrote and directed many plays until I was the Executive Director. I believe I was there 1992-2002...or somewhere in that timeline.