101 Stories: Isaac B. Turner

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. 

Isaac B. Turner

Cincinnati native Isaac B. Turner is currently a member of the wardrobe staff of Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he stitches and serves as an Assistant to Guest Designers.  

Isaac served as Production Manager for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati from 1998-2001, where he was instrumental in the creation and day-to-day operations of the STAR Program. 

Isaac attended the Cincinnati School For The Creative and Performing Arts. While there, he studied acting and vocal music but graduated with a focus in Technical Theatre, specifically Costumes. Isaac furthered his theatre studies at Northern Kentucky University, where he continued to perform but focused on Directing and Stage Management.  

Years of performing on stage across the country fueled passions that were meant to propel Isaac into a world of stardom. Cincinnati appearances include Playhouse In The Park, NKU Summer Dinner Theatre, Showboat Majestic, the Stained Glass Theatre, Downtown Theatre Classics, IF Theatre Collective, and The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. His performances could also be seen at theatres in Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Alaska, and Florida. Isaac toured the Tri-state area in THE SATCHEL PAGE STORY, written by classmate and renowned playwright Mary Tensing.  

Isaac also toured the country as The Ghost of Christmas Present, in A CHRISTMAS CAROL with Nebraska Theatre Caravan. Alas, stardom was never meant to be, but a world of fulfillment would be found in Costume Design, Direction, Producing, Stage Management, and Production Management.  

Isaac served as a staff Costume Designer for the Costume Gallery in Newport for over a decade. He also served as a Founding Producer for Monmouth Theatre in Newport.  

Isaac spent a couple of years as Resident Designer and Stage Manager at Cornwell’s Dinner Theatre in Battle Creek and seven years as Resident Designer and Director at Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre in Alaska. He also served as Director for Kentucky Commonwealth Theatre for three years.  

Shortly after arriving in Chicago, Isaac found a home at Provision Theatre, where he became a company member, serving as Resident Costume Designer. Isaac’s designs at Provision include several award-winning productions, including SHADOWLANDS, THE HIDING PLACE, and COTTON PATCH GOSPEL.  

Now a full-time costumer, Isaac’s work in Chicago has been seen at the Goodman Theatre, Writer’s Theatre, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Northlight Theatre, River North Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance, and Joffrey Ballet. As a member of the IATSE Wardrobe Union, Isaac had the privilege to work on several exciting Pre-Broadway productions and National tours. Some notable productions include: THE PIRATE QUEEN, KINKY BOOTS, RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR, ON YOUR FEET, and MOTOWN The Musical.  

After several seasons, working as a dresser at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Isaac became a full-time member of the Wardrobe Staff. While Isaac never found fame as a performer, he is well known around the opera house….and it ain’t over until the fat lady sings! 

Isaac B. Turner as The Tin Man in TCT’s production of The Wizard of Oz, 2000

Isaac shared his thoughts and memories during his time with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. 

“Theatre for children is important because it shapes lives. I saw my first live performance as an incoming sixth-grader at the School For The Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). Until that time, I only knew TV and annual televised musicals like The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a performing arts school. But imagine all the kids who only know TV. The reward of theatre for young audiences is getting to see all those faces light up as they take in their first, or second, or umpteenth live production! Even the simplest storytelling can be magical for young minds. My first live show was The King and I, and to this day, it is my favorite musical!  Of course, the hope is that children who are not in theatre will be inspired to create through puppetry, writing, design, or playing an instrument, or direction, or even performance.  Theatre for children is essential.” 

“During my time at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, I wore many hats. I served as production manager, organizing and running all auditions, creating contracts and rehearsal schedules, and calling most shows at the Taft and Jarson Kaplan theatres. I was the in-house costume designer, coordinating and building Jack Louiso’s designs or building my own. I was the voice of The Children’s Theatre (recording all outgoing messages for the office and ticket lines). And I was a founding director of the STAR Program. Under Jack Louiso’s leadership, I was trusted to create curriculum, hire staff, schedule classes, guest lectures, and workshops, and then write and direct a showcase of the many talents in the program. What I cherished most was the mentorship I fostered with the hundreds of kids who came through our doors. Beyond Children’s Theatre, as a director, I was also able to offer some of the roles in shows.  I still keep in touch with many of them and even some of their parents.” 

“What I really thought was special about The Children’s Theatre was that these young people were coming to us for training. They were being treated as young professionals, which was sometimes hard on them. But they returned for more, season after season, never giving up on their dreams of developing their talents. Watching them gain confidence with each role or class and getting to see them improve and mature in their craft, that was priceless. It was amazing to see their work in the Cincy theatre scene and feel like “we” had a hand in getting them there. To this day, I still have a sense of pride for ‘our kids.’” 

“The most fun I had at TCT was getting on stage to play the Tin Man in THE WIZARD OF OZ!  With Kate Mock, Mary Tensing, Deondra Means, Dain Page, Michael Bath…..so much talent.” 

Would you honor Isaac B. Turner with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?

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