101 Stories: Mikki Schaffner

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. 

Mikki Schaffner (left) with Angela Powell Walker (center) and Bob Herzog (right)

Since 2012, all of the beautiful images you’ve seen of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s productions and events are thanks to the hard work of local photographer Mikki Schaffner. 

Things to know about Mikki: 

  • She is a photographer, a mother, a wife, and a chocolate lover.  
  • She has a degree in photography, but it was almost a degree in Theatre (Stage Management, to be exact.) 
  • She has been published internationally, nationally, and locally.  
  • She loves to learn, including about those around her. Mikki says, “If I ask a lot of questions, please don’t think I am weird. I really do want to hear about your kids.” 
  • She loves a good “how we became a family” or ” how we fell in love” story and thinks taking pictures is the best job in the world. Mikki says, “I get to capture precious memories so that people can relive these memories time and time again. How cool is that?!” 
  • She believes every child, every family, and every love is a reason to celebrate. Mikki says, “No matter how you became a family – you did become a family. That is a reason enough to honor the love you share.” 
  • She loves photographing performance – dance and theater in particular. A few of the groups she has been fortunate enough to have photographed are Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati, The Cincinnati Ballet, ArtsWave, The Cincinnati Fringe Festival, OTRimprov, True Theater, NKU, Pones Inc, The Carnegie, Falcon Theater, The Incline Theater, and the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts. Mikki says, “Ask me about any of them, and I will babble for hours. Cincinnati has some amazing arts organizations.” 
  • Mikki’s studio is inside the Essex Studios, 2511 Essex Place Cincinnati, OH 45206 Room 211. She’s available for family portraits and parties, headshots (theatrical, film, dance, professional), and performance in the Cincinnati, OH area. 

We caught up with Mikki and talked with her about her involvement with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati: 

What prompted your involvement with TCT? I love photographing theater, and TCT always creates beautiful shows, so I just had to get involved! I have never been disappointed in the decision.  

Can you share a moment or turning point in your work with TCT that enhanced or changed the program? I don’t know that I have changed the program, but I love to capture the wonder of children seeing theatre and enjoying the magic of what TCT creates on stage. Hearing the gasps and cheers as the lights come up is such a joy. Knowing that these kids will be singing and dancing for days to come is wonderful. Seeing these same kids join classes and grow as artists is even better.  

Was there a particular situation where you witnessed the TCT mission specifically enhance the growth and development of children’s imagination or creativity? I have had the privilege of photographing the STAR Program for a while now. I have seen several young artists move through the program. Year after year, their skills improve, as do their confidence and commitment. These young artists are going on to grace many stages both locally and around the country as they join prestigious college programs. Knowing that there is a magical place that helps kids’ dreams come true while teaching them that hard work, practicing your craft, and persistence is the real path to success makes me happy. TCT never sugar coats how much work theatre is, but TCT does teach how worthwhile it is to do the work. TCT creates a safe place for kids to really go for it, knowing that there will be a knowledgeable teacher to cheer on the successes and put the failures into context so that they can grow from them. 

What do you love most or miss most about your work with TCT? Joy – both mine and the community’s. I love the pictures I get to take and the amazing theater artists I have had the pleasure to meet. I also love seeing the families that TCT serves enjoy the arts together. I love seeing the students growing and discovering their talents. It never gets old. I love it every time.  

What else would you like to share about your time at TCT? TCT is a combination of my favorite things – theatre and serving the needs of children. Theatre keeps imaginations alive. Teaching kids the joy of the arts helps make them more engaged, more empathetic, more connected. The more people you meet, the more plays you read, the more cultures you get to explore all help build your sense of community and curiosity. 

Would you honor Mikki Schaffner with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?

A photo of a great photographer getting her photo taken!

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