101 Stories: David Kisor and Joseph McDonough

By The Children's Theatre

Celebrate TCT’s 101st season as it comes to a close as we applaud and appreciate those who contributed to the organization’s magic throughout our century-long journey.  During 10 weeks of recognition, we honor individuals who have been instrumental in the success of TCT, and who have not only helped TCT grow in mission, but also thrive, thanks to their passion.  It is these people and their moments in our history that shaped TCT to become what it is today. We encourage you to consider giving a gift in their honor to ensure the sustainability of TCT’s mission for the next 100+ years. 

David Kisor headshot
David Kisor
Joseph McDonough Headshot
Joseph McDonough

The outstanding local creative team of David Kisor and Joseph McDonough worked with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati from 2000-2013.  

In 2000, the pair was commissioned by Jack and Susie Louiso, TCT’s former Artistic and Managing Directors, to write their first TCT show, THE FANTASTIC TOY SHOPPE. 

David Kisor is a songwriter, performer and record producer who lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio. He has a Master’s degree in composition from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music but is a songwriter at heart. He has written extensively for musical theater including works for the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati and The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. As Music Director at the New Thought Unity Center, he writes for solo voice, choir and congregation. His children’s songs, written and recorded for Growing Sound, promote positive social-emotional development in young children through lyrics crafted for both child and parent. He is half of ANCIENT NEWS vocal duo with Andrea Cefalo, putting a modern musical spin on ancient mystic poetry. 

Mr. Kisor wrote the words and the music for the TCT MainStage productions of  TOM SAWYER: A RIVER ADVENTURE, THE FANTASTIC TOY SHOPPE, NOAH’S ARK, FROSTY: A MAGICAL ADVENTURE, HANSEL AND GRETEL, ROBIN HOOD, as well as the TCT on Tour productions of RUMPELSTILTSKIN, TOWN MOUSE – COUNTRY MOUSE, and THE ROCKIN’ ADVENTURES OF PETER RABBIT. 

The Rockin’ Adventures of Peter Rabbit

Joseph McDonough is a playwright with a variety of experiences and interests, having written plays, adaptations and the books of musicals that have been developed and produced around the country. His new play ORDINARY AMERICANS (about blacklisted early television pioneers Gertrude Berg and Philip Loeb) received its world premiere in a co-production by Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach and GableStage in Miami in December 2019 and January 2020. His short play SOLACE was produced in New York in October 2019 as part of the Wet Paint Festival. His plays have also been produced locally by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati where he has collaborated with composer/lyricist David Kisor on ETC’s holiday musicals for the past 20 years. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and New River Dramatists. 

Mr. McDonough worked on several TCT MainStage productions, including writing the books of THE FANTASTIC TOY SHOPPE, NOAH’S ARK, TOM SAWYER and ROBIN HOOD. TCT also produced and toured Mr. McDonough’s play CINCINNATI: CITY OF IMMIGRANTS to schools throughout the area. 

CINCINNATI: CITY OF IMMIGRANTS

Can you share a moment or turning point in your work with TCT that enhanced or changed the program? 

JOE: It wasn’t just one moment. Jack always had a great sense of what works and what doesn’t work for a very large auditorium of kids. He was always a great help in keeping our shows moving and lively.  

DAVID: We were in rehearsal for THE FANTASTIC TOY SHOPPE and one more song needed to be written to finish the score. Jack called me into his office, sat me at a table with my portable keyboard, and told me not to get up until I had finished the song! Under pressure I wrote “The Toy’s Revenge” which became Jack’s favorite song in the show.   

Was there a particular situation where you witnessed the TCT mission specifically enhance growth and development of child(dren)’s imagination or creativity? 

DAVID: The moment in THE ROCKIN’ ADVENTURES OF PETER RABBIT when Benjamin Bunny (Deondra Means) invited the entire audience to rap with him during the song “Rabbit Revolution.” The children felt like they were part of the show.  

JOE: It was wonderful to see TOM SAWYER performed outdoors (in a huge tent) for free to thousands of kids during two of the Tall Stacks festivals down on the riverfront. I’m sure that was the first exposure to live theatre for many of those children.   

Similarly, I really enjoyed the experience of taking CINCINNATI: CITY OF IMMIGRANTS to schools and community centers all over the Cincinnati area. I think the play’s themes of shared humanity, shared history, and celebrating diversity resonated with a lot of the kids (and adults) who saw that show. 

What do you love most or miss most about your work with TCT? 

DAVID: Opening day of a world premiere. It’s time to write another one.   

JOE: I always love giving kids the experience and magic of live theatre. It’s how we build audiences of the future if we get them interested and excited at a young age.  

My older son’s class took a field trip down to the riverfront to see Tom Sawyer at Tall Stacks. After the show, one of the kids in the class went up to my son and said: “Wow, your Dad’s a freaking beast at writing plays!” I was cool for a day with my son. That Christmas my sons (and wife) gave me a T-shirt that says “I’m a freaking beast at writing plays.” I still have it.  

Would you honor David Kisor and Joe McDonough with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?