By Colleen Sparks
Audrey Ryan is shining in her dream job at Chandler Youth Theater after a whirlwind few months that included graduating from Arizona State University and getting married.
Ryan, 22, is the new director of productions for Chandler Youth Theater, part of ImprovMANIA Comedy Club at 250 S. Arizona Ave. in downtown Chandler.
Though it is a new position for her, she is no stranger to Chandler Youth Theater.
Previously, Ryan, a 2015 graduate of Seton Catholic Preparatory, had worked for about a year as a director for the youth theater operation, while she was an ASU student.
She recently graduated Summa cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in theater with a certificate in secondary education with a focus in theater from ASU.
She also married her longtime boyfriend, Owen Ryan, June 1, and squeezed in a quick honeymoon to Sedona though their official honeymoon will be a vacation to Dublin, Ireland in December. Several days after her wedding, she began her new job at Chandler Youth Theater.
“It’s interesting how well and how fast my life all came together,” Ryan said. “I don’t have time to process everything. It’s all good things.”
Besides directing musicals the youth theater performs, Ryan also teaches drama classes in her new role.
She said she had considered teaching drama at a high school and then Dave Specht, co-owner of ImprovMANIA and Chandler Youth Theater offered her the job as director of productions.
“I said, ‘This is my dream job,’” Ryan said. “I love teaching drama. This is more exciting getting to do a theater company.”
Despite her relatively young age, she has extensive experience teaching and performing in local theater.
“I feel really young but at the same time I’ve been teaching theater over 10 years,” Ryan said.
While still in high school, she volunteered to help choreograph dances and assist the directors in a Seton Catholic Preparatory summer camp.
After graduating from high school, Ryan worked as a regular teacher/director in Seton’s summer theater camps. She worked with students in grades kindergarten through high school seniors.
She loves working with youths.
“I’ve always enjoyed it,” she said. “I love their enthusiasm. They have…a wider imagination than most adults. It’s been really rewarding to pass down all my knowledge to the younger generation.”
Ryan also previously taught youths at a Christ the King Catholic School in Mesa, in a drama club and a drama class, for about two years while she was a student at ASU.
“I was stressed and busy all the time but it’s all stuff I love to do,” she said.
After high school, Ryan started performing as part of the main stage comedy improv group at ImprovMANIA and then Specht asked her if she would like to work in youth theater. She started directing the shows when the Chandler Youth Theater was launched.
“It’s an interesting dynamic being a teacher and a student at the same time,” Ryan said.
Now she also teaches improve to kids and teens and teaches summer camps at Chandler Youth Theater.
“It’s really fun,” Ryan said. “It’s really busy. I love it. It’s hard because I care so much about what I’m doing. I give so much of myself. At the same time it makes me feel like I have a good purpose in life.”
She has also performed extensively and said acting and blocking are her strengths. Ryan performed in show choir at Seton and while at ASU performed and helped write music for shows.
She acted and composed/performed music for ASU Mainstage Productions of “She Kills Monsters” and “Brooklyn Bridge” and was nominated for an ariZoni as best supporting actress in a play for “Brooklyn Bridge.”
Ryan also worked as a deviser, performer and musical composer for Vessel’s production of “Conference of the Birds,” which premiered at The Unexpected Gallery in Phoenix.
David and his wife, Colleen Specht, the co-owner of ImprovMANIA and Chandler Youth Theater, said they are “thrilled” to have Ryan in their work family.