101 Stories: Krista Katona Pille

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. 

Krista has worked for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) since 2001. She’s a strong marketing professional with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry. Before The Children’s Theatre, she worked for the Cincinnati Division of Time Warner Cable as the Manager of Public Relations. 

Prior to that, Krista worked for the local CBS affiliate, WKRC-TV, as the Public Service/Creative Projects Coordinator. While there, she garnered three Regional Emmy Awards for producing, and her work was selected as a finalist in the 1999 National Emmy Awards.  

As an Account Executive with The Owens Group, Krista developed promotional campaigns, publicity, and special events throughout Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, and Louisville for Hollywood motion picture studios. She has additional event planning experience from her time with Gardner Publications, where she assisted in the coordination of meetings, conferences, and trade shows.  

Krista graduated from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Electronic Media and a Writing Certificate in Journalism. She’s worked at Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, and in New York, on the set of the daytime drama, As the World Turns. Krista’s husband, Rodger, has performed in many Children’s Theatre productions. Her son, Charlie, is a TCT fan and future performer.

We recently talked with Krista about her time with TCT:

What prompted your involvement in TCT?

“My background is in video and film production, but I’ve always been involved with theatre in some way. My parents were very involved in the performing arts, so that’s always been part of my world. I participated in it in high school, and I’ve always been a patron and a fan.” 

“My first job out of college was at Instant Replay Video and Film Production. Our offices were in the same building on McMillan Avenue that housed The Children’s Theatre offices. There were three people working at TCT at the time. That’s when I met Jack and Susie Louiso.  We always had an affinity for each other, and we shared similar interests and joked that it would be fun to work together.”

“I moved on to several other positions at other companies over the next nine years, but I would run into them periodically, and we would always remark about how fun it would be to work together. One day I got a call from Jack and Susie, and they said, “We’re serious!” It was the right time in my career to consider such a move, so I met them for lunch. I loved the idea of working in theater and entertainment and working for such an amazing community-based organization. The mission was a perfect fit. I became the first exclusive Marketing Director for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. That was 2001.”

“Now it’s 20 years later, and so many changes have happened within the organization. It has been truly incredible to see the amount of growth in the company, in our offerings, and in what we bring to Cincinnati and beyond.  When you work someplace for such a long time, you wonder if maybe you should have left to do something else, but I’ve never wanted to be anywhere else! This job completely fits me and is an intrinsic part of who I am now.”

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

“That moment in 2016 when we introduced TCT’s Sensory-Friendly performances was a turning point. I felt that this was such a meaningful opportunity for us as an organization and for the families we were never able to serve properly until then. Adding this programming became very important to me, so I spearheaded the project. It came together so fast like it was meant to be! After getting feedback and learning from Cincinnati Ballet and Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, who were already involved in staging this kind of performance, we put our Sensory-Friendly Committee together, led by the incredible Dr. Jen Smith from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. We wouldn’t have been able to launch and continue this endeavor without her and her team. There was great enthusiasm and involvement from our new Committee, the Theatre Development Fund (TDF), who handles all the Sensory-Friendly Broadway performances, and our staff! It felt like the world was aligning with our vision for this new initiative. It was gratifying for us and monumental for the families that were able to attend. I’m so pleased these performances have continued and will continue.”

Was there a situation where you witnessed the TCT mission specifically enhance the growth and development of children’s imagination or creativity?

“Every time I have ever witnessed our incredible resident artists, Mr. Deondra Kamau Means and Ms. Brandi Langford Sherrill, perform, whether conducting a WorkShop or performing in a show, their connection with children is so special – even on-screen in a streaming production! TCT is so lucky to have them on staff. They have such special gifts enabling them to connect and engage children. It’s transcendent!”

What do you love most about TCT?

“I love that TCT has been around for such a long time and that we come from such a long history of amazing women — like those from The Junior League and Helen Schuster-Martin who started the organization.”

“It was always my dream to work in entertainment, and now I have the great joy of actually working in entertainment — but also education. Plus, I work closely with both TCT’s creative and business leaders, which seems to be unique in our industry. There is such a collaborative spirit here!” 

“I’ve always wanted to add up how many children have attended our shows since I started working at TCT — I bet it’s close to a million kids! I see myself in all of them, and I hope our productions light a spark in them. TCT has grown so much, and we continue to grow. Our future is so exciting! Sometimes I have to pinch myself and ask, ‘Is this really my job? I get to do this for a living? How lucky am I!’”

Would you honor Krista Katona Pille with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?