Tickets On Sale for TCT’s AcademyLive! Heathers The Musical — High School Edition

Tickets are now on sale for Heathers The Musical — High School Edition presented by TCT’s AcademyLIVE!

If you’d like to purchase tickets, please call our Box Office at 513-569-8080 x10 Monday through Friday from 9am – 5pm.

Or order online below:

2022 JTF Competition Team Announced

Congratulations to the following students on being selected for our 2022 Junior Theatre Festival competition team!

Ireland Danner-Barnhill

Lydia Trout

Alex Talbot

Riley Verdin

Avery Silvestain

Ayden England

Claire Jeffreys

Leah Christman

Izzy Stringer

Ellie Haas

Annmarie Schultz

Mia D’Ascenzo

Addy Darling

Mackenzie Cook

Olivia Czanik

Hadley Wick

Elijah Kenny

Gabby Henderson

Eileen Fortner

Camryn Martin

Amy Pham

Kinsey Clayton

Chrissy Farria

Open Auditions for The Wiz JR.

Be a part of the magic and take a leap into the spotlight for TCT’s production of The Wiz JR.

This audition is open to all people, ages, and talents!

Whether you see yourself as a beginner who only sings in the shower and dances in the kitchen, or you’ve performed with us before, everyone is welcome on our stage. We want you to show us what you’ve got for a chance to be a part of TCT’s modern telling of this classic story we all know and love.

black and white headshot portrait of Zhailon Levingston

Work with a Broadway Director! Directed by: Zhailon Levingston 

Straight from Broadway’s Chicken & BiscuitsHadestown, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical

THE WIZ JR.

Book: William F. Brown

Music & Lyrics: Charlie Smalls

Additional Material: Tina Tippit

Adaptation: Deondra Kamau Means

Directed by: Zhailon Levingston

Choreographed by: Ayodele Casel, Torya Beard & Amanda Castro

A beloved Broadway gem, The Wiz infuses L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with a dazzling mix of rock, gospel and soul music. This timeless tale of Dorothy’s adventures through the Land of Oz is a fun, family-friendly, and modern musical.

Rehearsals: February 28 – March 26, 2022

Tech in the Taft Theatre: March 30-April 1, 2022
(Daytime/Evening)  

Performances: April 2-11, 2022

Morning and Afternoon performances during school days. Morning, afternoon and evening performances Friday-Sunday.

AUNT EM: Female Identifying, Dorothy’s Aunt. Life has not been easy for her and promises little else. Harsh towards Dorothy at times, but acts out of love.

DOROTHY: Female Identifying, Bright eyed and alive as can be. Would rather remain a child as long as possible instead of accepting the responsibilities of adulthood.

UNCLE HENRY: Male Identifying, Dorothy’s Uncle. Physically run-down from years of hard work on the farm. Often acts as the voice of reason towards Aunt Em.

ADDAPERLE: Any gender identity, any age, Good Witch of the North. Has magic powers they refer to as “doing tricks.” Their magical abilities don’t always pan out as well as they would like them to.

SCARECROW: Any gender identity, any age, Tired of being a scarecrow and the prospect of not going anywhere. Embarks on the journey to see The Wiz in hopes they can provide a brain.

TIN MAN: Any gender identity, any age,  Human at one time. Lost all their limbs to a cursed axe. Joins in the journey in hopes the Wiz will provide them a heart because “it isn’t enough to be good looking.”

LION: Any gender identity, any age, Travels around the jungle scaring people, but has “a yellow streak a mile wide.” Coward state stems from deeper mother issues and gets. Joins in the journey to see the wiz to gain some courage.

THE WIZ: Any gender identity, any age, All-powerful leader over the land of Oz. Hides their true nature behind the façade of a temperamental leader. Their true identity is an enigma.

EVILLENE: Any gender identity, any age, Wicked Witch of the West. Low-down evil. Not a kind bone in their body nor kind thought in their rotten mind.

GLINDA: Any gender identity, any age, Good Witch of the South. Prettiest of all the witches. Very wise in the way of show-business.

ENSEMBLE: A group of Adults, Teens, and children to play a wide variety of characters and features including munchkins, Citizens of Oz, Gatekeeper, Lord High Underling, Winged Monkeys and understudy principal roles.  Seeking extremely strong and versatile Dancer, Singer, Actors. Tumbling and tap ability a HUGE plus

THE WIZ Adapted from “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” By L. Frank Baum. Book by William F. Brown. Additional Material by Tina Tippit. Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls. Copyright 1975, 1979, 2006, 2010.

This Sixty-Minute Version of THE WIZ JR. was developed by The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Deondra Kamau Means, Resident Artist.  

Cast Announced for TCT AcademyLive! Heathers The Musical — High School Edition

Congratulations to both casts of TCT’s AcademyLive! production of Heathers. We had over 60 students submit an audition for this production!

Those who were cast should have received an email with details on rehearsals and show schedules.

DINOSAUR CAST

VERONICA SAWYER – Abigail Woltz

JD – Shawn Bilyeu

HEATHER CHANDLER – Madeline Smith

HEATHER MCNAMARA – Mia D’Ascenzo

HEATHER DUKE – Kelsey Huff

MARTHA DUNNSTOCK –  Mackenzie Cook

RAM SWEENEY/RAM’s DAD – Charlie Perkins

KURT KELLY/KURT’s DAD – Elijah Kenny

BIG BUD DEAN/VERONICA’S DAD – Addyson Darling

COACH RIPPER – Delaney Gorman

MS. FLEMING – Ellie Haas

VERONICA’S MOM – Tierney Rasmussen

PRINCIPAL GOWAN –  Yolee Louis

BELEAGUERED GEEK  – Zel Auger

PREPPY STUD – Lilli Hoel

HIPSTER –  Rosie Kipperman

NEW WAVE GIRL – Eileen Fortner

BURNOUT CHICK – Ellie Haynes

YOUNG REPUBLICANETTE – Audree Terry

CHEERLEADER –  Chloe Stewart

NERD – Lainey Zurcher and Airikah Hays

BLUE SLUSHIE CAST

VERONICA SAWYER – Addy Probasco

JD – Shawn Bilyeu

HEATHER CHANDLER – Bella Randle

HEATHER MCNAMARA – Marlo D’Ascenzo

HEATHER DUKE – Alexa Massey

MARTHA DUNNSTOCK –  Natalie Hillgrove

RAM SWEENEY/RAM’S DAD – Charlie Perkins

KURT KELLY/KURT’S DAD – Elijah Kenny

BIG BUD DEAN/VERONICA’S DAD – Eyre McCauley

COACH RIPPER – Olivia Czanik

MS. FLEMING – Louisa Joy

VERONICA’S MOM – Olivia Wetzel

PRINCIPAL GOWAN –  Hailey Graber

BELEAGUERED GEEK  – Chrissy Farria

PREPPY STUD – Charlotte Blase

HIPSTER –  Nia Buchannon

NEW WAVE GIRL – Kinsey Clayton

BURNOUT CHICK -Savannah Eveslage

YOUNG REPUBLICANETTE – Julia Trenary

CHEERLEADERS ENSEMBLE –  Avery Fox and Addison Kennedy

NERDS ENSEMBLE – Gabrielle Henderson

TCT ACADEMY COVID-19 GUIDELINES – Fall 2021

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is committed, first and foremost, to the safety of our students.  We’ve always maintained a high level of attention to ensure a safe learning environment where students are free to express their creativity and be their unique selves.  

We are requiring all staff, students, and parents/families entering the building to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth, regardless of vaccination status.  

We believe everyone has the right to make their own decisions for what is best for their student(s) and family.  If you’ve already enrolled in a class and wish to receive a refund, please don’t hesitate to call us before the semester begins on September 7, 2021.  If you request a refund after the semester has started, you will receive a prorated refund based on the number of classes already passed. 

Thank you for allowing us to commit to safe practices as we navigate the pandemic and continuously find ways to serve our arts community and young artists.  

–Angelo Cerniglia, TCT Education Director


The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati Postpones DISNEY’S DESCENDANTS: THE MUSICAL

COVID is “Rotten to the Core”

Although still weeks away from opening the first MainStage production in the company’s 102nd Season, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) feels that it is in the best interest of its littlest patrons to postpone all performances of DISNEY’S DESCENDANTS: THE MUSICAL, slated to run October 9 – 17, 2021 at the Taft Theatre to the 22-23 season.

When the Pandemic originally started, TCT formed a COVID Ad Hoc Committee, comprised of representatives from the medical community, including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and TriHealth, members of the TCT Board of Trustees, and staff. Since March 2020, this Committee’s recommendations have allowed TCT to safely navigate this very tenuous time, and the company is leaning on them again for direction.

The COVID Ad Hoc Committee feels it is TCT’s responsibility to help protect those who can’t protect themselves as a vaccine is not yet available for children ages 12 and under. Because MainStage audiences are mostly comprised of this particular age group, the group feels it would not be prudent to hold performances at the Taft Theatre this October.

“At The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, there is one thing we know for sure: you can always count on us to keep your children safe.  Upon seeing a first-hand increase in the number of children contracting COVID, with the Delta variant on the rise, increasing hospitalizations for children with respiratory conditions, and growing breakthrough cases for vaccinated adults, our COVID Committee feels this situation will likely get worse before it gets better,” says Kim Kern, TCT’s Managing Director and CEO.

Roderick Justice, Producing Artistic Director, echoes that sentiment saying, “Our productions pit the heroes against the villains, and there is no villain more insidious right now than COVID-19 and its variants.  We will continue to monitor the local situation and heed advice from our Committee as well as national recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. We want performances at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati to be a safe space filled with wonder, not worry.”

TCT 21-22 subscription holders will receive a refund equal to one-quarter of the original subscription price. Being the nation’s oldest children’s theatre, the company has kept going and growing through the generosity of loyal patrons who believe in the company’s mission. Patrons who choose to donate their ticket price back to TCT are asked to email tickets@tctcincinnati.com by Wednesday, August 25. Refunds will automatically appear on patrons’ credit card statements.

As of right now, TCT plans to keep ELF THE MUSICAL JR. on the schedule in December, as well as ROALD DAHL’S MATILDA THE MUSICAL JR. in February 2022 and THE WIZ JR. in April 2022.

TCT will continue its slate of touring productions as well as digital programming available online.

Last year, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s touring season was redesigned with the ability to perform shows at schools and community venues either in-person or through two different styles of digital presentations: A streamed version of the show through Broadway on Demand, or the brand new “Pick-A-Path” Series, where audiences choose their own adventure and get to decide how they want the story to end. This blended interactive storytelling gives audiences an experience they will never forget. In-person performances include a live, post-show talk-back with actors to engage students in the production’s message. For digital performances, teachers will have the opportunity to schedule a live, post-show talk-back via Zoom.

“Pick a Path” is in partnership with Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and titles include: JAQUELINE AND THE BEANSTALK, Harriet Tubman: Straight Up Outta’ the Underground, and MARTIN’S DREAM. For details or to book a touring experience, email kamel.mccray@tctcincinnati.com

Donation Requests

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is located in Cincinnati, Ohio and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.  It is our policy to donate only to other 501(c)(3) organizations.  While we would like to grant all requests made to us, as a non-profit organization we must limit the number of contributions we make.  

Please fill out the below form to request a donation.  Requests must be made 6 weeks prior to the date by which you need the donation. No phone calls, please.

Our request form is only available during the month of August.

Priority will be given to the following groups:

Due to limited availability, we are not always able to contribute to priority organizations.  We will often only be able to make a donation every 24 months to the same organization.

We regret we are unable to make donations to the following types of benefits and organizations:

We are unable to provide cash donations/sponsorships.

Applause and Appreciation

Celebrate TCT’s 101st season as we applaud and appreciate those who contributed to the organization’s magic throughout our century-long journey.  During many 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.

Thank you, Martha Lindner, for making a difference in our community by serving six years on the TCT Board of Trustees and sharing TCT productions with both families and staff of Back2Back Ministries and students and families of CHCA Armleder School.

Thank you, Martha S. Lindner, from students at CHCA Armleder School.

“I was so grateful to have had 250 friends of Back2Back Ministries watch the unbelievably well-done production of Annie. I sang and cried through the whole thing, remembering a childhood of singing those songs and loving stories where the lonely are set in family. Thank you, Martha Lindner and The Children’s Theatre for a great night. The cast was amazing. It was a win-win for our Back2Back community and the overall public to see this subject put on display in such a high quality and meaningful way.” 

Beth Guckenberger, Co-Executive Director, Back2Back Ministries

Martha S. Lindner involvement at TCT:

Applause and Appreciation

Celebrate TCT’s 101st season as we applaud and appreciate those who contributed to the organization’s magic throughout our century-long journey.  During many 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.

Thank You Mrs. Lindner! For inspiring children to grow in their understanding of themselves and others through the art of stage performance with your support of TCT!

“It is a thrill to know of the good work being done at TCT and how many children benefit from the efforts of all the staff!” 

Edyth B. Lindner, Emeritus member of the TCT Board of trustees

Edyth B. Lindner provided sponsorship for:

What’s That Mean, Mr. Means?

This five-episode video series features elements of the theatre in five-minute educational lessons conducted by TCT Resident Playwright and Workshop Teaching Artist, Deondra Kamau Means.

Episode 1: Masks

Episode 2: Puppetry

Episode 3: Makeup

Episode 4: Costumes

Episode 5: Props

101 Stories: Helen Schuster-Martin

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. 

The legacy of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati began with Helen Schuster-Martin in the Schuster-Martin School of the Drama in 1919. Ms. Schuster-Martin coined the name “The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati” and began directing and writing productions for young audiences.  After receiving the author’s permission, she wrote “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit: A Play in Three Acts,” dramatized from the bedtime stories by Thornton Burgess. It was copyrighted and performed in 1919, per the 1919 Catalog of Copyright Entries, as well as a historic letter of publicity.  She also adapted “The Adventures of Sammy Jay,” which TCT performed in 1921, per “The Playground, Community Service” publication.

Ms. Schuster-Martin was the aunt of matinee idol Tyrone Power, who took classes at her renowned Cincinnati school. Other notable students included American radio actress Virginia Payne, as well as beloved screen star Doris Day.

Women were among the early creative leaders in radio drama, notably Helen Schuster-Martin. In 1923, WLW hired Ms. Schuster-Martin to direct all of the radio station’s radio plays, dubbed “Radarios.” From the book, Radio Drama: The Early Years: “Dramatic readings were added to the WLW daytime schedule on September 6, 1923. Fred Smith read stories with piano background from “the classics.” On October 4 came the announcement that Helen Schuster-Martin of the Schuster-Martin Dramatic School, henceforth would direct all of the radarios. Further, she would form a “stock company of 14 actors to be called the “Crosley Radarians.” By the fall of 1923, the Radarians were presenting dramas every week on Thursday evenings at 10:00 p.m.”

A Junior League of Cincinnati member, Ms. Schuster-Martin, brought her expertise of live theatrical entertainment for children to that organization and helped to launch The Junior League Players. In 1924, TCT was placed in the hands of The Junior League of Cincinnati to continue the legacy as the nation’s oldest and one of the largest theatres for young audiences. She served as a director of their first productions in the early 1920s, with Junior League members serving as actors, managing ticket sales, and overseeing production responsibilities until The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati launched as an independent nonprofit organization in 1947. The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati performed in the Emery Theatre until 1969.

We owe a great debt of thanks to Helen Schuster-Martin. This incredible, trail-blazing woman started TCT on its journey to where we are today and our path towards tomorrow.

Would you honor Helen Scheuster Martin with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


Cover of a Schuster-Martin School of the Drama diploma

101 Stories: Kim Kern & Roderick Justice

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. 

Kim Kern is a native Cincinnatian and graduate of Cincinnati Country Day School (’87). Kim Left Cincinnati to attend Vanderbilt University (“91), where she received a bachelor of science in education studies and human development, and then quickly returned to Cincinnati, which she and her family continue to call home.  Kim assumed the role of Managing Director of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati in September 2013, and then the combined role of Managing Director & CEO in 2015.  Kim’s expertise spans nonprofit management, fundraising, strategic planning, market media development, public relations, special events, grant acquisition, and major gift acquisition.  Before joining TCT, Kim worked as President of the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National MS Society, Director of Major Gifts for National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and prior to that, she was Director of Market Development for Local 12 WKRC-TV and Clear Channel Broadcasting.  She served as the Executive Director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and spent time operating her own consulting company, advising both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations in the areas of special events, board building, marketing, corporate sponsorship, public relations, fundraising, and promotions.  

Roderick is a member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and is celebrating his 15th season with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.  Recently recognized as one of The Cincinnati Business Courier’s Forty Under 40 in 2020 and Arts Educator of the Decade by Broadwayworld.com, his work is driven by a passion for storytelling, the impact arts have in childhood development, and the power live theatre brings to promote empathy. He is an award-winning director, choreographer, actor, costume designer, playwright, adjudicator, and mentor to hundreds of young performers. Originally from eastern Kentucky, he obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre from Northern Kentucky University.  Since becoming Producing Artistic Director in 2015, he has produced and commissioned more than a dozen new musicals, plays, and world-premiere adaptations.  Outside of TCT, Roderick shares his passion as a guest artist, director, and choreographer for other organizations, including many in the region, such as his alma mater, Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts (SOTA), the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), Commonwealth Theatre Company, The Carnegie, Cincinnati Landmark Productions, and The Lincoln Amphitheater Company, in Lincoln City, Indiana.   

Kim Kern and Roderick Justice on the Showtime Stage on Red Bank Road prior to completed construction

Recently we met with Kim and Roderick and learned how their combined leadership and communications styles drive new opportunities and success at TCT. 

What was life at TCT like before the move to the Red Bank Facility? 

KK – Wow, life before Red Bank, I think I have repressed a lot of that. We were renting about 10,000 sq. ft of space around the corner from where we are now.  When I think back, I remember crowded spaces, Roderick hair styling wigs under the stairs because that was the only place to do it,  auditions with people sitting outside on walls and in the grass because there was not enough room inside to house them and only 55 kids per year total taking classes because that was all that could fit. 

RJ – Oh and the costume shop and storage. It was so full it became a hazard. 

KK – And when in rehearsal, we had to open the doors to costume storage so the cast could go into “the wings” during the rehearsal, which caused some challenges and extra-long props hitting lights due to the low ceiling height. The shed where puppets and costumes were stored.  It was a completely different world. 

RJ – You are reminding me now of the previous building, even before the last location. We were on the second floor of an office building. When we would tap dance, the whole floor would vibrate. There was a skylight in the center of the room. That is where we could do any kind of major choreography or a lift, so everything was usually blocked center stage.  What we can do at Red Bank has catapulted us beyond anything we could have imagined before. 

After our move into the Red Bank location, we were a bit in culture shock and had to break the habit of thinking, “we can’t do this because this is happening at the same time.”  Now we can rehearse 3 shows simultaneously, whether on Tour, in the Academy or on Mainstage. 

Kim Kern and Roderick Justice on the Showtime Stage on Red Bank Road after construction

What was involved in making the Red Bank facility a possibility? 

KK – it was a multi-year process that for me started not long after I joined TCT in 2013, and it had long been a dream of those who came before us to find a place we could call home.  

So many things happened to make Red Bank possible.  Having Pete Horton (who at the time worked for Miller-Valentine) on our board and who helped us by using their costar system for geomapping.  This helped us find the ideal quadrants for our location using our data, including where our patrons, our academy folks, schools, and where families with children were all located.  Angela Powell Walker (former Artistic Director) and I drove around with Pete and Jack Rouse looking for spaces.  Pete found the Red Bank facility before it even went on the market, allowing us to give it early consideration.  Pete was so instrumental in that as well as managing construction that was on time and under budget.  For a year, our group met weekly to go through all the necessary pieces involved in building construction and renovation; it was quite an undertaking.  A gift from the Corbett Foundation was incredibly exciting and providential. I still remember the meeting with Craig Hurwitz, our board chair, and fellow board members as we went through an entire meeting talking about the pros and cons of this project and undertaking.  After we voted to proceed, Craig mentioned the major gift from the Corbett Foundation, and everyone shouted, why didn’t you lead with that!  

RJ – That was actually my first board meeting as interim co-artistic director.  I was truly jumping into the new position headfirst with Red Bank. But it was the perfect time to start. My first day after being promoted was a meeting to start discussing the interior of the building.  I loved every step of the rebranding process and in helping design a space where families in our community can experience so much joy and wonder. I’m proud of the space and the energy that can be felt throughout the building. 

KK – You did such a good job of designing the building and the aesthetics as a whole. You were so engaged in that process, even down to the details of picking names for each of the studios, which I love, and I still think To Be and Not To Be are the best names for drama studios ever.  This special thought, vision, and detailed care is something that people really notice and was so amazing.  

RJ – Thank you. But you’re the amazing one!   

At the 2016 Family Gala

You seem like such a great team, what are some of the ingredients of your work success together? 

KK – I tell people all the time that Roderick is a genius, and I am thankful for him every day.  But also, I think we complement each other so well.  Roderick understands the business side, not just the artistic side, and is cognizant of budget constraints. I am obviously on the administrative side of the organization and focus on things like budget and development, but I understand the need for artistic integrity and the need to spend money to make money.  I think that balance, where it’s not just an administrative professional and an artistic professional coming together and trying to make our worlds blend, we each are very cognizant of the other’s world and our understanding of it, and I think that is why it works so well.  

RJ- I echo every syllable of what Kim has said. There is an incredible amount of respect and trust that happens when you are working closely with someone.  We are aligned in so many ways. We think at the same pace for the organization.  I’m thinking of artistic integrity at the same level she’s thinking of artistic integrity, and I’m thinking fiscal responsibility on the same level as she is thinking fiscal responsibility. When these aspects intersect and don’t always align, we have to question what is the best path forward. This is where we trust each other’s judgment and why we work so well together.  We build off but also challenge each other’s ideas. And it’s always from a place of respect and trust. I believe those are the ingredients that make us rise.   I tell people all the time that this organization could not do anything it does today without Kim.  If we are the human body, Kim is the brain. 

KK – And not to mention that I just love Roderick as a person otherwise I would not have let him marry me. 

RJ – And for the record, I did not marry her like… I put a ring on it; I officiated the marriage between her and her husband. 

At STAR NKU

This year has been quite a strain on theatres and yet you managed to stay open. How did you do it? 

RJ – First of all.  I’ll be the first to admit I was wrong. I thought this was going to pass quickly. But a few weeks in, it was clear this was more serious than we ever imagined.  

In 4 days, we had to change our entire trajectory for the year: a different budget, different shows, a different model, and different jobs for everyone so we wouldn’t lose our tribe of people.  That happened quickly, and I can’t even tell you how it happened because it moved so fast. But that goes back to trust and respect, where we both know we had to keep both artistic integrity and fiscal responsibility in balance.  

KK – Also, it was a really clear example of both of our strengths and talents. Roderick shifted gears and came up with an entirely reimagined season based upon streaming rights or things we owned. And me making decisions like saying to Development I think we need to reach out to those who are most generous in our community and let them know we need their help.  We are working together and capitalizing on things that allow us to continue supporting our families and serving our mission. 

What’s next on the horizon?  

We are dreaming again with pen and pencil in hand and very excited about going back to our roots and finding a restored home for our MainStage theatre division.  Committees are meeting again, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds and know that the next 101 years will bring new opportunities, new challenges, and great progress for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati! 

Would you honor Kim Kern and Roderick Justice with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: The Junior League of Cincinnati

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. 

The Junior League of Cincinnati is where The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati began! “In that first year, JLC members played to an audience of 700 children, which grew to 11,000 by 1939. In 1947, the Junior League provided a $12,600 grant to launch a new, nonprofit community organization, and Cincinnati’s Children’s Theatre was officially incorporated.  Marjorie (Motch) served as the first board president.  After The Children’s Theatre’s initial session at Hughes High School, the Emery Auditorium became its home for the next two decades.” (From Junior League of Cincinnati’s 80th Year Celebration program.)

A 1961 article in the University of Cincinnati’s News Record shares details of an upcoming performance of Sinbad for over 15,000 children as part of the 11th annual Cincinnati Children’s Theatre production by UC’s Mummers Guild, second only to The Junior League of Cincinnati in the number of Children’s Theatre productions. “The Cincinnati Children’s Theatre was established in order to acquaint the city’s youth with the theatre. Students in most public schools subscribe to the four-play series.  The Mummers Guild produces one of these plays each year.” (UC’s New Record, Feb. 23, 1961).

“Joan Burrell, who in 1969 was the last chair of the League Players, writes in her final report, “The Aztec Prince marked the end of an era for Junior League Players.  It was the twenty-first and last production to be given solely by the League for the Cincinnati Children’s Theatre. To accomplish this, it took the love and dedication of forty League volunteers.  A truly representative group of volunteers – provisionals, actives, and sustainers – all dedicated to giving unstintingly of their time and talent to the success of our project, a play providing joy and delight for the school children of our community.” (from Junior League of Cincinnati’s 80th Year Celebration program) 

The Emery Theatre

Over the years, many dedicated board members and volunteers found their way to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, all as a result of The Junior League of Cincinnati and their encouragement of leadership, community, and cultural development.

Their mission states:  The Junior League of Cincinnati is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

Thank you to Junior League leaders of long ago with a vision to introduce children and the young at heart to the gift theatre for the young!

Would you honor The Junior League with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


From The Junior League Players’ 1925 production of The Wizard of Oz

101 Stories: Ralph and Patricia Corbett

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. 

Patricia Corbett

Ralph and Patricia Corbett moved to Cincinnati around 1935 and bought a small doorbell company – NuTone. Ralph revolutionized the industry by bringing door chimes into the home, and through this business and the support of Cincinnati, they found great success!

Jack Louiso, TCT’s former Artistic Director, was a friend who introduced the Corbetts to The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.  They loved the arts and theatre and the idea of bringing the live stage to children. They were very concerned about the loss of public-school support when the arts began losing importance as part of the standard curriculum. From Jack, they gained great interest in helping the introduction of children to the arts.  They were impressed with the great work already underway by Jack and his team at TCT.  

Corbett’s philosophy was that when a community helps people experience success, those people have an obligation to give back to that community.  That is the root of their generosity. Cincinnati helped them accomplish so much, and they wanted the community to share in it.  The Corbett’s also believed strongly that a philanthropist’s gifts should be distributed during his or her lifetime. They kept trying to give it all away, and remarkably, the stock market kept responding in their favor providing even greater fortune.   

Ralph and Patricia were amazing people, and they didn’t just believe in giving money away; they wanted to make sure the money was doing what it was supposed to do. When Mrs. Corbett spelled out the purposes of these gifts in her final trust, the goal was for TCT to use the money as creatively as possible, including finding new ways to share and serve the TCT mission, not just continuing to do the same things that had already been done. In fact, it wasn’t unusual for Pat to show up to a rehearsal, show, or opening to witness their gift in action. She had a very astute mind for what she saw and often made suggestions that were included in the production or building that was being funded.  

To preserve her intentions beyond her lifetime, Mrs. Corbett put a committee in place to help the beneficiary organizations remember the purpose of these gifts. Committee contact Ed Marks feels that The Children’s Theatre has been very creative and successful with the uses of the Corbett’s gifts. Ed very much appreciates receiving TCT’s impact reports demonstrating the use of the funds and is delighted with the new ideas and new ways of reaching audiences. Ed feels strongly that if Patricia were alive today, she would be so pleased with all that is happening at TCT!

Would you honor Ralph & Patricia Corbett with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: TYA/USA

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. 

Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, Executive Director of TYA/USA

Theatre for Young Audiences USA (TYA/USA) is the leading national organization for the professional field of theatre for children and families, representing nearly 900 member theatres, organizations, and individual artists across 42 states. Dedicated to ensuring that all young people have access to high-quality theatre experiences, TYA/USA offers a variety of programming and provides a network of exchange that connects professionals working across the industry.

TCT’s Managing Director and CEO, Kim Kern, is a member of the TYA/USA Board of Directors. The board is comprised of highly skilled leaders, administrators, artists, and educators from across the country dedicated to advancing professional TYA theatre.

Jonathan Shmidt Chapman is an artist, producer, writer, curator, and educator dedicated to the field of Theatre for Young Audiences. Throughout his career, Jonathan has been passionate about innovation, experimentation, and advocacy in the TYA field. Most recently, Jonathan served as the first Producer of Family Programming at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, creating ways to re-imagine the Lincoln Center campus as an international arts destination for families. Jonathan is also the Co-Founder of New York’s Trusty Sidekick Theater Company. He led the company through five years of growth and the creation of 12 original works, including the critically-acclaimed Up and Away (a multi-sensory, immersive experience for young people on the autism spectrum). Recent artistic credits include co-creator of The Cerulean Time Capsule for the Kennedy Center and director of the world premiere of The Boy at the Edge of Everything (Finegan Kruckemeyer) at Seattle Children’s Theatre. He has held artistic and education-focused roles at The New Victory Theater, True Colors Youth Theatre, and the Cloud Foundation.

We recently chatted with Jonathan, and he said:

“I am the Executive Director of Theatre for Young Audiences USA. Through this role, I have been able to interact and collaborate with the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. I love children’s theatre because I believe that children are the most open and receptive audience that one can perform for, and theatre gives them a new lens to seeing the world. 

“I am constantly impressed by TCT’s desire to develop new work and expand the canon of the theatre experience for these children. I love seeing all of the different ways they serve young people within the community – from large-scale productions at the Taft Theatre to smaller work produced in touring shows. They always find new ways to grow and better serve the community around them!”

Would you honor TYA/USA with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


In the summer of 2020, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati was proud to bring this world premiere, groundbreaking, online theatrical experience to children and families in our community in partnership with 41 other TYA theatres across the country.