101 Stories: Susie and Jack Louiso

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. 

In 1993, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati hired its first paid staff members, Susie and Jack Louiso. Susie was the company’s Executive Director, and Jack was Artistic Director. This Cincinnati power couple served TCT for 18 years before retiring in 2011.

Jack has made contributions advancing arts education since he was 17, when he started the first of 10 dance studios. After that he created new initiatives locally, statewide, regionally and internationally. Under Jack’s vision, TCT produced 56 MainStage productions, 21 world-premiere works; leaping to a new level of professionalism, increasing audience size from 22,000 to 250,000. In 2006, Jack received the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio, Education category; in 2007, The League of Cincinnati Theatre’s Continuing Achievement Award; in 2003, the Post-Corbett Lifetime Achievement Award.

After Susie graduated from Walnut Hills High School in 1960, she went on to get her degree in K-3 Education at the University of Cincinnati. Then in 1976, Susie co-chaired a Jewish Hospital holiday show, which Jack Louiso was directing. It was there that the two met for the first time. In 1978 she was the President of the Board of Trustees for the Cincinnati Adolescent Clinic, Inc., a division of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She then began volunteering at the celebrated Cincinnati School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). As her volunteerism grew to more than 90 hours a week, she was offered a job and served as SCPA’s Development Director from 1981-82. Susie was also the Production Coordinator and Producer for all of the school’s productions from 1982 to June of 1993, including overseeing performances in Japan, Germany and France.

This magical team transformed a small arts organization into a Cincinnati institution that has made a difference in the lives of countless young people. Because of their work and tireless effort, TCT has gone on to grow and thrive.

WHY WAS THE JOB IMPORTANT TO YOU? 

JACK: “I think the most important thing about The Children’s Theatre is that children can see new things. You can see classics, and I think that is really important, but you can also see new things but in a way that isn’t in competition with other things that young people enjoy. They can see things that excite them on TV and movies, but when they come to Children’s Theater, it’s different. They see a live production and the excitement that comes with seeing something come to life, live. Excellent production values are so important— and TCT has taken excellence to a new level. It’s going in the right direction.”

SUSIE: “The most important thing for a community to thrive is to have balance, and the arts bring that. But to have excellence of the arts in your community, you have to start with an audience of young people. So, it’s important that children get the bug early, so they understand the balance and importance of having the arts in your community.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY MEMORIES THAT STICK OUT IN YOUR MIND AND WHAT DO YOU MISS?  

SUSIE: “I remember something that happened when we did Little Red Riding Hood. I was standing at the back doors to the theater during a school show and one of the school bus drivers popped in, stood next to me, and he started watching the show. He turned to me and said, ‘I can’t get over this. They never had anything like this when I was a child. I would definitely be a theatergoer if I had something like this.’ That has always stood out in my memory.”

JACK: “There are so many people and moments that stick with me. It’s hard to choose just one. I miss the kids.  There are too many to name.  I mean, education and teaching children is my background and I miss that. I miss working with them.”

Would you honor Susie and Jack Louiso with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?