About Us

The National Youth Theatre is New Zealand's premier musical theatre training programme for young people aged 7-21.

Open to all without audition, our performing arts training programmes include workshops, holiday programmes, and two full-scale musical theatre productions each year featuring a diverse cast of up to 250.

Within an inclusive and supportive atmosphere, our professional theatre mentors provide unique opportunities for young performers to be part of a major theatrical production whilst inspiring them to have fun, build confidence, and develop essential capabilities including:

  • communication and language skills
  • imagination and creative problem solving
  • co-ordination and motor skills
  • the ability to work under pressure
  • teamwork
  • a sense of pride in group achievement
  • an understanding of commitment and accountability to self and others
  • resilience
  • patience
  • perseverance

And through our Outreach programme, we not only provide full scholarships for a large number of deserving students to join the cast, but we also reach new audiences by presenting four schools’ performances and partnering with deserving schools to fully fund their attendance at those shows.

Our programmes change lives. Whilst some will be inspired to pursue a career in the theatre, every child will benefit from an experience which enables them to confidently take the stage and happily interact with their peers whilst developing the skills for well-rounded lives.

The workshop process is designed to extend the cast at every opportunity– this can be as simple having each student stand up and say something about themselves while answering the roll – a real achievement for a shy 7 year old. For our more experienced cast, there is the possibility of becoming part of our extension dance programme or taking on the challenge a lead role.

Our programmes can take a child from shyly hiding at the back of the room to confidently standing center stage, and these changes impact their whole lives. Our students go on to deliver speeches in their classes, to confidently interact with their peers, to more well-rounded lives. Some are inspired to a career in the theatre, all benefit from the unique experience.

We triple-cast all leads where possible to maximise the opportunities available to our cast – each lead gets at least two performances. This is a huge logistical exercise, but it is so worth it for the additional prospects it gives our students. We try to keep the audition process as supportive as possible - we always audition in small groups, and often audition our younger cast members in their usual group time to start with.

Participation in the National Youth Theatre is a fantastic addition to the CV of our students. We're often called upon to provide references, whether as part of the Duke of Edinburgh programme, for further educational opportunities such as scholarships or course entrances, or as character references for employers. Our industry reputation is very strong, and our students are always well represented in any professional production that features young performers.

Our Team

James Doy
Chief Executive
Jonathan Alver
Artistic Director
Shirley Sequiera
Relationships Manager
Seamus Ford
Programmes Manager
Dr Andew Zhu
Independent Director of Partnerships
Tamara Azizian
Office Manager

We also have a wide pool of tutors, contractors and volunteers for each programme. View the tutors for our current programme Alice.

The National Youth Theatre was established in 2004, with our first programme, "Cinderella", being presented at the Bruce Mason Centre in May 2005.

Since then we have gone on to run over 40 programmes, two each year in Auckland CBD, including Disney's "High School Musical" - which set a new record as the fastest selling locally produced show.

In 2013 we became the resident Youth Theatre at Auckland Live, producing all our Auckland CBD programmes at the Aotea Centre or the Civic Theatre from that point on. We are now also running programmes in Manukau and Hamilton.

The NYT Board

Melanie Esplin (Chair)


Dianne Ruela


Maria Stegantova


Kelly Bleakley


Sammy Hook



Guy & Sue Haddleton

Artistic Patrons

  • Carl Doy
  • Jason Gunn