Meet the Company
From Alpine, Utah, Emma is a Sophomore studying Music Dance Theater. Some of her favorite credits include, Narrator in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, Laurie in “Oklahoma”, and serving as a Young Performing Missionary in Nauvoo, Illinois during the summer of 2017. Emma also served as a full-time missionary in San Diego, California, where she had the chance to serve at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site. She currently enjoys teaching dance at Utah COPA and choreographing for Lone Peak High School’s drama productions. Emma is thrilled to fulfill a life-long dream performing with such an incredible team!
A second-year Young Ambassador, Maren is a senior in the Music Dance Theatre program. She served an 18-month mission in Nagoya, Japan and served as a Young Performing Missionary in Nauvoo, IL summers of 2015 and 2018. She spent last summer performing in the Nauvoo and British Pageants as Vilate Kimball and Sarah Ashton. She's also enjoyed performing at Hale Center Theater Orem in A Christmas Carol (Belle), Newsies (Button), and Tuck Everlasting (Ensemble). At such an uncertain and confusing time, she's so grateful to be part of the Young Ambassador family spreading joy and light through music, storytelling, and dance.
Hi, I’m Burke Boyer! I’m from Sherwood, Oregon and I’m a Physics-Astronomy major here at BYU. I’ve been performing my whole life! I’ve been in a dozen musicals and lots of choirs, and I play guitar and piano and write songs too. I’ve been in BYU’s Men’s Chorus and Concert choir, and in the BYU a cappella group Chromatix. This is my first in the Young Ambassadors and I’m already loving it!
Ben is a junior in the Music Dance Theatre program. He has been seen in various productions at the Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy, UT, including An American in Paris, Seussical, and most recently seen as "Bert" in Mary Poppins. Ben has performed internationally at venues in Austria, the Czech Republic, England, and China, where he grew up. He served as a Mandarin-speaking missionary in the California Oakland/San Francisco mission. After performing with BYU Contemporary Dance Theatre, Ben is excited to now join many of his close friends on the Young Ambassadors.
Ally is from El Dorado Hills, California, and is a Sophmore in the Music Dance Theatre program. You may remember Ally from BYU’s most recent mainstage musical where she played Chloe in Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland. Since moving to Utah, Ally has also had the opportunity to play Gretchen in Hale Center Theatre’s Freaky Friday and Ruth in Hale Center Theater Orem’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. Ally was also called to serve as a 2020 Young Performing Missionary in Nauvoo, Illinois. Ally has dreamed of becoming a Young Ambassador since she was 15 years old and is so excited for what the year has in store for this team!
From Billings, Montana, Issa McKnight is a junior at BYU studying musical theatre. She was a part of BYU’s jazz voice ensemble, Syncopation, for 2 years. Most recently she played Chiffon in BYU’s production of Little Shop of Horrors. She was accepted to be a young performing missionary this summer in Nauvoo. This is her first year as a Young Ambassador and she is excited to join their long legacy of service mixed with song and dance!
Christian is a freshman in the Music Dance Theatre program, thrilled to perform with the Young Ambassadors. Transferring from BYU-Idaho, studying Biology, his passion for the arts never died. Christian is very grateful for the people and opportunities he’s been blessed with growing up in Sherwood, Oregon. In the midst of a pandemic, he hopes everyone finds the encouragement they need to press forward and come out of this stronger.
Sara is a second year member of the Young Ambassadors and a Junior in the Music Dance Theatre program. She recently returned from serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Knoxville, Tennessee. Some of her favorite credits include “Mamma Mia” (Sundance), Narrator in “Joseph…Dreamcoat”, and Rose in “The Secret Garden.” Sara has also been a member of a nationally ranked Show Choir (Evolution) and grew up dancing with Lifehouse Academy of Performing Arts. A native from Elk Ridge, Utah, Sara is excited to be a part of the Young Ambassadors Team this year. She is grateful for her wonderful family who constantly cheer her on.
Jimmy Henderson is a Junior at BYU and is entering his second year as a Young Ambassador. He is majoring in Music Dance Theatre with a minor in Media Arts Studies. His favorite credits include Wells in “Freaky Friday” at HCT, Sandy, Richard Hannay in “The 39 Steps”, D’Artagnan in “The Three Musketeers”, Narrator in “Joseph… Dreamcoat”, Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid” and Dickon in “The Secret Garden”. In High School, Jimmy was a member and dance captain of a nationally competitive show choir. In 2014, he was given the award of “Best Male Performer” at the Hollywood Fame Competition in Los Angeles. In 2015, he was given the Larry Lott award at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. He considers it an honor to be a part of the new era of Young Ambassadors.
Melisa is from Vancouver, Canada and is a freshman majoring in dance. She grew up singing, playing the piano and playing music with her three brothers. Her family band went from performing at local malls then performing live on CBC radio. Starting high school she learned to play flute and saxophone for her school’s Jazz band. With that band she was given multiple opportunities to sing in festivals and her personal favorite, Disneyland! She started dancing her sophomore year of high school and has fallen in love with it more and more every day. Melisa is thrilled for the opportunity to be able to share her love for music and the gospel through performing with the YA’s this year.
From Highland, Utah, Hailey is a sophomore studying Music Dance Theatre. A couple of her favorite credits include, Audrey II in “Little Shop of Horrors” and Cinderella in “Cinderella.” She trained at Utah COPA for 8 years and danced with the pre-professional dance company, Odyssey 2, directed by Deryll Yeager. She also performed around the world with Caleb Chapman’s Crescent Super Band for 3 years and worked as a featured soloist for Lagoon for 3 summers. Hailey also recently sang with Kristin Chenoweth and the Utah Symphony in Concert at the Deer Valley Amphitheatre. Hailey is so excited and grateful for the opportunity to join the Young Ambassadors for her second year!
Lyric Ikeomu is a Junior at Brigham Young University, majoring in dance education, from Seattle Washington. Lyric is a member of BYU’s SDEO club and has been on Dancensemble, Kinnect and many other dance projects here at BYU. She previously has danced competitively with Allegro Precision Dance Company for 2 years. She has sufficient experience in drama and musical theatre, both from directing and performing in several musicals and plays. She has experience teaching dance to a wide range of ages at a variety of dance studios in her hometown of Seattle and here in Utah. Lyric has a huge passion for creating, performing and anything that puts her on stage. She is so excited to be on Young Ambassador’s this year to grow, and learn alongside such talented friends
Theatre has been one avenue for Brant to express the importance of each person and create a space to connect with life. So, he is excited to be back performing after returning from the England, Birmingham Mission. This is Brant's first year on Young Ambassadors and a true dream. He was encouraged by a former Young Ambassador to audition when he was 12 and that sparked in him the confidence to try theatre. Since then, he has been nominated top ten best actors in the state of Utah in 2016 & 2017 by the UHSMTA. He is a regional Theatre/Speech Sterling Scholar and some of his most memorable roles are Harold Hill (Music Man), Caractacus Potts (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid), with 13 additional productions under his belt. Brant is studying International Relations with a minor in Entrepreneurship and is from Vernal, UT. Reach out to him on Instagram: @brantsjohnson
Alex is very excited to be on Young Ambassadors again this year. A Junior in the Music Dance Theater program at BYU, Alex was most recently seen as Jack Kelly in Disney’s “Newsies” at Hale Centre Theatre Orem, Joseph and John in “Savior of the World,” and Father in “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” at UVU. Alex has served missions in both Santa Rosa, California and twice in Nauvoo, Illinois as a Young Performing Missionary. He is a connoisseur of all things outdoors and is a fan of the Great British Baking Show. Alex is thrilled about the opportunity to serve on the team for his second year!
Evan Naef is a Washington native majoring in accounting. He served in the Trinidad Port of Spain mission and is currently a sophomore at BYU. Evan is thrilled and humbled for the opportunity to join the Young Ambassadors for his first year. His favorite credit was his role as Schroeder in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. He is so grateful for the amazing support of friends and family, making his Young Ambassador experience the best ever.
Payton is from Raleigh, North Carolina and is a Junior in BYU’s acting program. She is represented for TV and Film by KU Talent, and TMG. Favorite stage credits include Fran in Baz Luhrman’s “Strictly Ballroom the Musical” (HCT) and Gabrielle in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella”(HSTC). This is Payton’s first year as a Young Ambassador and she is beyond grateful for the experience, her teammates, and her directors. She also wants to thank her friends and family for all of their encouragement and love.
From Cary, Illinois, Luke Rands is a second year member of the Young Ambassadors and a Junior in the Music Dance Theatre program. Most recent credits include Hercules in last year’s YA show, and Neleus in BYU’s ‘Mary Poppins’. Luke also spent a summer performing at Music Theatre Wichita, where he played various roles in musicals such as ‘Newsies’ (Albert), ‘Thoroughly Modern Mille’, ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ (Zeke), ‘Hairspray’ (Corey), and ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’. This summer, close to 5 million people watched Luke dance on Tik Tok. Luke also spent two years in Thailand as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is beyond ecstatic to perform again with the Young Ambassadors, sharing meaningful stories through song and dance.
From Orem UT, Cassidy Riggs is a junior in the dance program. While at BYU, Cassidy spent 2 years on the BYU Cougarette dance team. As a member of the Cougarettes, she won 2 National Championships in both Hip Hop and Jazz, toured China as a part of the BYU China Spectacular, and won a Silver Medal representing the United States in the World Hip Hop Competition. Before attending BYU Cassidy spent 12 years in competitive dance. She received the highest awards at regional competitions across the US and at the National NYCDA competition each year in New York City, including a scholarship to attend the Rockettes Summer Intensive. Cassidy is beyond excited to be performing with the Young Ambassadors this year.
Oakley Thacker is a Sophomore studying Music Dance Theatre. His dreams came true this past summer when he married his best friend, Sydnee. Oakley is thrilled to be on Young Ambassadors a second year in a row. Favorite credits include Cat in the Hat (Seussical the Musical), Lumiere (Beauty and the Beast Jr) at HCTO, Ralphie (A Christmas Story), Donkey/Lord Farquaad (Shrek the Musical), Fritz in Odyssey Dance Theatre’s production of “Redux Nut-Cracker”, and performing at the Lincoln Center in New York. Oakley has also been awarded first place in both Musical Theatre and Pantomime in Utah’s High School state drama competition. At the Utah Shakespeare Festival, he was awarded first place in Duo/Trio scenes. He has been nationally ranked in Hip Hop. Oakley served a Spanish speaking mission in Wisconsin. From Highland, Utah, Oakley is thrilled to fulfill his dream of performing with the Young Ambassadors! He would love to thank his family and his wife for all of their support. @oak_thack
Bobby Alger is a senior studying Spanish, Business, and Music at BYU. Having performed with the BYU marching, pep, symphonic, jazz, and mariachi bands, he is excited to be playing for the first time in the YA show band. Additionally, Bobby performs outside of the university under the moniker “Bobby St. Mute.” A self-proclaimed aesthete, he also enjoys cycling and hiking with his wife, Amber, and dog, Mackey.
From Albany, Oregon, David Allen is a senior at BYU, studying Commercial Music with an emphasis in Media and Film Composition. David has now worked for four years as the Assistant to the Band Director, Eric Hansen, including a tour to Brazil, Arizona and most recently, China. He has also been the artistic director of a BYU A Cappella Club group, 1AChord for the past 3 years. In addition to Young Ambassadors and 1AChord, he has performed with Synthesis, Wind Ensemble, and Symphony Orchestra, all at BYU.
Hailing from Danville, California, Dan Ankenman is a senior studying Commercial Music and is the guitarist for the Young Ambassadors. Dan has had a strong passion for music for as long as he can remember. Since coming to BYU, he has played with the BYU Jazz Legacy Band, BYU Syncopation, BYU Jazz Combos, the BYU Jazz Ensemble, the BYU Jazz Lab Band and the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir. This is Dan’s third year with the Young Ambassadors, having now toured with the group to Arizona and China.
As a native Wisconsinite, Tim’s first love has and always will be cheese. But he also studies film as a Junior at BYU in hopes of becoming a director of movies. Tim’s musical background runs deep into his early years beginning with piano lessons and eventually expanding into percussion and guitar. He was involved in concert, jazz, and marching bands and found a love for singing through choir groups as well. This is Tim’s first year in Young Ambassadors and he plays auxiliary percussion on the incredible Hand Sonic, an electronic instrument that defies all understanding.
Dan is from Gilbert, Arizona and has been playing music for most of his life. From being trained as a classical pianist and orchestral bass player to performing with various jazz, rock, and latin groups, he considers himself a very diverse bass player. Dan is now a student at Brigham Young University, studying Audio Engineering. In addition to Young Ambassadors, Dan has performed with the Philharmonic Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and various jazz combo groups. Now in his second year with the Young Ambassadors, having toured with the group last year to China, Dan is very excited to tour with the group to Japan.
From Carlsbad CA, Sadie Holdaway is a sophomore in the piano performance program at BYU. She has played piano her whole life and has enjoyed performing in pit bands ever since she was 14. At BYU, Sadie has also enjoyed singing in Women’s Chorus and accompanying other student instrumentalists. This is her first year with the Young Ambassadors and she can’t wait to tour Japan!
From Monroe, Louisiana, Deven Hunsaker is a senior studying Spanish Translation. He served as a Spanish-speaking missionary in Los Angeles, California. Fulfilling his dream of playing in a pit ensemble, Deven is extremely excited to continue on with his second year in the Young Ambassadors, having toured last year with the group to China. Deven has previously participated in the BYU marching band, BYU mariachi band, jazz combos, and most recently BYU Synthesis. He is passionate about other cultures and loves old black-and-white movies.
Gabe was born in American Fork Utah but is blessed with a very culturally diverse ethnic background sharing routes with both Argentina and Venezuela. He is a freshman studying Music Production in the Commercial Music program and has been playing music for as long as he can remember. He grew up watching the Young Ambassadors and is honored to be playing drums for such an amazing group. He’s especially excited to go on his first international tour to Japan.
Trent is from Pleasant Grove, Utah, and has been performing music since a young age. During high school, he had the opportunity to play in jazz, latin and funk groups, reaching venues all over Utah, the United States, and even some international venues. Beginning on clarinet, Trent quickly branched out to saxophone and flute as the opportunities came along, and loves being apart of the Young Ambassador band where he plays clarinet, flute, alto and tenor saxophone. He is excited to tour Japan and meet the amazing people there.
Kyra is from Lafayette, California and is a senior in the Commercial Music program at BYU. This is her first year performing with the Young Ambassadors, and she is excited to be able to be a part of such a wonderful program. Besides music, some of her favorite hobbies are hiking, drawing, reading, and spending time with those she loves.
Jacob is a Senior studying Theatre Art Studies with a focus on Technical Directing, with a minor in Ballroom Dancing. He loves working behind the scenes, particularly in the area of lighting as he has been the Master Electrician/Board Operator for the Young Ambassadors for two years, as well as for various other shows produced at BYU. He also designed the lighting for this year’s tour. He is also currently designing or assistant designing for two shows for the upcoming mainstage season at BYU. When he isn’t working a show, he spends his time ballroom dancing.
From Culpeper, Virginia, Kirsten is a senior in the Theatre Arts Studies program with an emphasis in stage management. She is also pursuing a minor in studio art. Kirsten has previously been on the stage management team for BYU’s productions of Wendy and Peter Pan, Wonderland, and Anne of Green Gables. Last summer, she served as a technician for the Young Performing Missionaries in Nauvoo, Illinois. When she’s not backstage, she enjoys hiking, playing board games, and watching movies.
From Spanish Fork, Utah, Emma is a sophomore in the Theatre Arts Studies program with a minor in Japanese. She has designed lighting for several student theater productions at BYU, including the senior acting class’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. This year, she is excited to be part of the design team for two of BYU’s mainstage productions. She has enjoyed being on the tech crew for the Young Ambassadors this year and looks forward to being heavily involved in theater for the rest of her time at BYU.
Brett Lewis is from Agua Dulce, CA, in northern Los Angeles. This is his first year with the Young Ambassadors serving backstage as a microphone technician. Brett is majoring in Exercise Science in preparation for medical school. He served a mission in Cusco, Peru. He has a background as a featured entertainer, performing western trick roping, stunts and as a DJ throughout the western United States. When he’s not studying or performing he loves surfing, hiking or any adventure that takes him outdoors.
From Lindon, Utah, Mercedes Schaerrer is a senior studying Linguistics. She has a love for languages and is now learning Quechua, after studying German, Czech, Slovak, and Spanish. She began her stage debut by playing a baby boy in Promised Valley at six months old. Now she enjoys working backstage and often helps her parents who both work in the theater industry. Mercedes has traveled to Brazil, Argentina, and to many states with the Young Ambassadors, and is excited to be joining the group for another year.
From Lindon Utah, Shelby is joining us for her second year on the Tech Crew. She enjoys creating digital art and playing her various musical instruments in her free time, and is enjoying her sophomore year at BYU studying Cybersecurity. Although she primarily participated in marching band in high school, Shelby’s parents made sure she was raised with a healthy appreciation for musical theater, and she was on her school’s stage crew for many of her middle school productions. Shelby is excited to tour with her big sister, Mercedes, and the Young Ambassadors this year.
From Orem UT, Channing is a Junior studying Exercise & Wellness. This is her first year on the group and is loving getting a behind the scenes look as a tech for a change. She loves enjoying a home cooked meal with good company, and learning about the gift of the human body. Channing is grateful for the experiences that being on Young Ambassadors provides and is looking forward to Japan this spring. Many thanks to her friends and family and the support they provide from both sides of the veil.
With a major in media arts and an interest in medicine, Gigi likes to split her time between the lab, screen, and stage at BYU. Growing up backstage and behind a console on community theater production in her native Sandy, Utah, this is her first year with Young Ambassadors. Gigi spent a year and a half serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Tokyo, Japan and is excited to return to the country she loves so much. She dubiously claims to be the only student on Young Ambassadors who has run a show in Japanese.
Gabriella grew up in St. George, Utah where music and theatre were very large parts of her life. Finding a passion in live audio reinforcement and dipping her toes into theatrical sound design, she has enjoyed working with BYU’s various groups on campus, in Europe with their Folk Dance Ensemble, and most recently with The Young Ambassadors to China. She is currently in her third year at BYU as a studio art major, spending fair amounts of time supplementing her education with as many interests as she can collect.