101 Stories: Nancy James

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. 

Nancy James is a Cincinnati icon.  A familiar name. A familiar face. A familiar voice.  This versatile Emmy-winning  performer has shared her talents with the Tri-State area on stage, on camera, and on the airwaves for over three decades. Nancy James became a part of our lives on The Bob Braun Show, beginning in 1974, singing, interviewing, and creating live commercials. She continues to make her living as an entertainer:  appearing onstage as a singer, on-camera as a spokesperson, and representing clients as their  voice-over talent for radio and television commercials. 

What prompted your involvement with TCT? 

“Heck, all I had to do is be asked!!!!  :-)  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the TCT staff, production team, and cast of The Wizard of Oz in 2006. The other professionals who had also been asked to participate with the wonderful roles available were all first class and I had so much fun not only getting  to know them better, but in my case learning from each of them!  The comedy of Dain Paige, the beautiful voice of Megan Osborne, the wicked charm of Carrie Ellen Zappa, the sweet demeanor of Deondra Means…and  I remember Ken Jones portraying the “Wizard” so brilliantly…he was just phenomenal!”  

“Most of us have known and loved the characters of this show since our childhood, so to be a part of a cast who was so professional and so dedicated to bring joy to the children ‘of every age’ in our Tri-State area was an honor!” 

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

“I think taking a piece of theatre that is an important part of and memory of parents  and grandparents lives and making our next  generation not only come to love the story, the songs, and characters too, but being able to experience it together is the best gift TCT gives to the families of our area.  As a grandparent myself, it is the very reason I now have a subscription to the season of shows TCT is presenting this year.” 

“Unfortunately some children think they can only be entertained and engaged by an electronic device or the TV. But…To provide an opportunity to see LIVE performances is magical, it’s truly a gift… and can not be replaced 100% by other means!  (Thanks to COVID, I know we all had to go digital to see performances, and I was grateful for that…but nothing beats LIVE theatre!)” 

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

“Performing in front of a live audience holds a thrill that nothing else does! Being able to entertain a theatre filled with children who can’t wait to be there and see the show, with parents who can’t wait to introduce them to something that they love, with grandparents who love the special opportunity to share it all with their families… Now that was amazing!   I especially loved knowing that maybe those grandparents and parents in the audience would remember that I was a part of their lives some 40 years ago and am still a part of the music that fills their lives!”   

“These one-of-a kind opportunities are so fulfilling… To be acknowledged as an entertainer whose history is still remembered,  still celebrated, and yes, applauded is so validating and incredibly gratifying! And I was, and still am grateful to have had that opportunity!” 

What else would you like to share about your time at TCT? 

“I remember the day when the grade school that our children attended was scheduled to attend our performance.   I was particularly nervous… my fellow parishioners in the audience with their kids and  I was a part of the production they were looking forward to seeing!  And I was so proud to be on the ‘other side’ of the curtain… proud to be part of what they would, I knew, enjoy immensely!” 

“The gift that this organization gives to our community year after year is like no other.  There are classes of children who might have never had the chance to experience live theatre… but they were blessed with this once a year outing to an arts event! Teachers can only help their students so far in understanding the importance of theatre and music and performance skills. This is something only a live performance can teach them. It is as valuable a lesson as any class experience, if not more!  When children are with their peers and classmates enjoying a show together, it is so very special!” 

“And on the flip side of the coin… I still remember being a lucky parent who volunteered to help chaperone a class of eager students from that same grade school… from the bus ride down, filled with eager  anticipation to the ride back to school discussing all the aspects of what they had just experienced together, it was a precious memory!” 

“Throughout the years, as an entertainer,  I have been proud and so very privileged to be a fond memory of someone’s arts experience… so thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of TCT’s long-standing tradition of excellence here in the Tri-State!” 

Would you honor Nancy James with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?

From TCT’s THE WIZARD OF OZ (2006)

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