101 Stories: June and Jerry Hill

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. 

June and Jerry Hill

June Hill is a former arts educator, pianist, and music teacher with TCT’s summer camps. Her husband, Jerry Hill, is a former employee and carpenter in the TCT Scene Shop. Their son, Jake Hill was also an actor, former employee, and teaching artist.  

When TCT asked June why TCT was important to her she replied:  

“It was because we saw the value. Not just because it was children’s theater, but that adults were involved who felt like there was no reason to treat children any differently than an adult audience. And that’s my favorite part of children’s theater.  TCT tells a children’s story but you don’t talk to them like they are five years old. You talk to them like we’re talking now. And that’s why you have great audiences. It is because that’s how you’ve always treated them.” 

When asked why Jerry Hill believes theatre for children is so important, he replied:  

“Live theater, especially musical theater, offers so much to children on so many levels.  But I believe it is uniquely engaging because it is so thoroughly collaborative.  So many people with different talents, skills, and roles co-labor-ate – work together- to create each performance.   The goal is to entertain, but the result is so much more than entertainment.  Actors, costumers, dressers, lighting designers and technicians, sound technicians, directors, producers, writers, musicians, carpenters, scenic designers, painters, stagehands, prop masters, and many others, seen and unseen, join forces to create a singular moment of magic.  And that magic is not ruined by learning about all that goes on behind the scenes.  I believe it is actually enhanced for children as the value of interdependence in all of life comes alive on stage.” 

Roderick Justice asked June about how she started working with The Children’s Theatre?  

“I came with my son Jake as a volunteer. I came with Jerry as a volunteer in the beginning. But I started working as a pianist and a music teacher during the summer.  I’ve always taken it as a really huge compliment, that you would feel comfortable to call on me. You trusted that I could do it. You trusted me to help teach the kids through the same methods you use to shape children.”  

“And it was never just working with children. There was something special It was the way TCT teaches. You teach respect. And it’s lateral. They respect their fellow actors and singers, and you teach them to respect the people shaping them. You teach them to step up. To come in and help by going the extra mile. I don’t think there’s anybody who’s ever been successful in this business who wasn’t willing to do it all and go that extra mile.”  

In one word, if you could describe the Children’s Theatre, what do you think it would be?  

“I think I’m going to choose “family”. TCT has always been like a family. And when you’re working with children– if they don’t feel that bond, and their parents don’t feel a special bond, they won’t come back and work with you again.”  

“They have to feel safe. They have to feel loved. They have to feel nurtured. And TCT brings that environment.”  

If you were to meet someone on the street who has never heard of TCT what would you say to hook them before they even saw a show?  

“For me, you have to go because of quality and the professionalism. From the first show we saw, I was struck by the fact it was on the same level with “adult theaters” in town. The shows have always been fabulous.  The sets and costumes have always been wonderful and colorful. But everything, from the first rehearsal to the last night on stage—  the whole production is so well choreographed. And I don’t just mean dancing. From the casting to the rehearsal schedule to the set pieces moving around on stage. Everything is precise at The Children’s Theatre.”  

Would you honor June and Jerry Hill with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?