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.

101 Stories: Ohio Citizens for the Arts

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. 

Angela P. Meleca, Executive Director of Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA).

Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA) is a statewide advocacy organization that energizes the art and creative community to lobby the Ohio State Legislature, Administration, and Congress. Their mission is to ensure all people have access to and involvement in creativity and the arts.

Members believe creatives are essential and the backbone of innovation, prosperity, and strong communities. They advocate that public funding for the art and creative industry is a high-return investment that benefits all Ohioans. 

OCA’s recent successes include the allocation of $20M CARES funding for the industry.

Angela P. Meleca is the Executive Director of Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA). Angela comes to OCA with more than 25 years of experience in journalism, politics, public relations/marketing, and the arts. 

Before joining OCA, Ms. Meleca was the Founder of Angela Meleca Gallery, a contemporary art gallery located in downtown Columbus. The gallery was active in elevating and transforming arts and culture in Central Ohio through connecting individual artists, arts advocates, and arts organizations. 

Before her career in the arts, Ms. Meleca was a political journalist and press secretary for the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus. She has extensive experience in communications, media, and public relations.

The Columbus, Ohio native earned her B.A. from The Ohio State University with a concentration in Political Science and Journalism. Her professional affiliations include serving on the Wexner Center for the Arts Donor Circle Council, Columbus Museum of Development Committee, Columbus College of Art and Design Guest Lecturer and Student Mentor Program, and the Dublin Arts Council Board of Directors.

We recently chatted with Ms. Meleca, and she said:

 “I am a firm believer in the public value of the arts for every person – even if they do not recognize the great impact that the arts have on their individual lives. I am a representative for all of the creative industries in Ohio – through Ohio Citizens for the Arts.”

She continues: “About a year ago, I was able to come and see first-hand the impact of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati has on their community. The Children’s Theatre is dedicated to contributing to the community even in times of crisis, such as the pandemic. This shows how deeply the organization cares about the community, and how they are willing to provide support and theatre through any way possible.”

“The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati brings out the child within me. The vibrancy of their productions and how that continues to push the envelope with creativity, capturing imagination for both young and old. Every time I visit – in-person or online – The Children’s Theatre makes me smile and leaves me with feelings of inspiration, hope, and positivity.”

Would you honor Ohio Citizens for the Arts with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: IATSE LOCAL 5

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. 

Stagehands backstage at 2016’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR.

Founded in 1893, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) represents workers in the entertainment industry. Members work in all forms of live theater, motion picture and television production, trade shows and exhibitions, television broadcasting, concerts, and the equipment and construction shops that support all these areas of the entertainment industry. They represent virtually all behind-the-scenes workers necessary to the functioning of the entertainment industry, from all forms of live entertainment to motion picture and televisions to conventions and trade shows.

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati has been incredibly fortunate to work with IATSE Cincinnati Stage Employees Local 5 at the Taft Theatre.  Mr. Thomas L. Guidugli Jr. is IATSE Local 5’s Business Representative and serves as the Vice Mayor of the City of Newport.

Mr. Guidugli has been an integral player in the entertainment and fine arts world for nearly 30 years.  In his current role since 2000 as the Business Representative for the Cincinnati chapter, he manages a multi-million dollar budget and over 400 full and part-time employees.  He has built strong relationships with all the local venues, including the Taft Theatre where TCT performs, while improving the standard of living for the employees he represents.  Given that his job is an elected position, it speaks volumes that he has been elected for six consecutive terms. 

A hard worker by temperament, Mr. Guidugli worked all through college to pay for his education at Northern Kentucky University and is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Finance. He received his Master’s degree at Chase Law School in 2018. He is always working on a new project to improve his world, either through home repairs or by executing a successful production for the audience.

Mr. Guidugli has served as the President of the Performing Arts Technical Scholarship fund since 2001 to support and nurture Cincinnati youth in the pursuit of technical excellence in the performing arts. The PATS Fund was an initiative of the Corbett Foundation.  The fund provides financial support to local college students pursuing careers in technical fields of the performing arts in the Cincinnati area.  The fund also allows apprentices of Cincinnati Stage Employees to learn the latest technology through continuing education programs approved by the PATS Fund Board of Trustees. Mr. Guidugli is passionate about the stagehand craft. He believes that “Education and training are greatly needed to ensure that our technical pool remains state of the art- and our city remains on every producer’s tour list.” 

Mr. Guidugli is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).  He has traveled with several theatrical shows, including WickedLion King, The Producers, Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast,and Fiddler on the Roof.  He worked as a movie Grip and Gaffer on locally produced movies, including receiving film credits for Shawshank Redemption, Milk Money, and Lost in Yonkers.   

Mr. Guidugli is a natural leader demonstrated by his statewide positions within IATSE and in personal endeavors as a member of the Campbell County Democratic Executive Committee.  Mr. Guidugli also serves on the board of the Boys and Girls Club Board. He is married to Heather Rahn Guidugli and they reside in the East Row Historic District of Newport with their children, Gia and Louie.

Mr. Guidugli shared his thoughts about TCT with us:

“From the very humble beginning The Children’s  Theatre of Cincinnati, The Cincinnati Stage Employees, IATSE Local 5 were the professional production team who executed the shows.  From venue to venue, These Stagehands have remained perfect partners elevating the production for The Children’s Theatre and the Cincinnati theater community.”

Would you honor IATSE LOCAL 5 with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


Mr. Tom Guidugli and family

101 Stories: Broadway On Demand

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. 

Tralen Doler, Vice President of Broadway On Demand

Following the onset of COVID-19, TCT expanded its virtual offerings to keep children educated, entertained, and engaged in the arts. 

To continue fulfilling its mission even during a global pandemic, TCT re-imagined its MainStage season to include a combination of live (reduced-capacity) performances and streaming of those same productions digitally. 

TCT forged a new partnership with online streaming service Broadway On Demand, allowing patrons to purchase and stream seven TCT productions (both MainStage and TCT on Tour shows) digitally throughout the world. 

Broadway On Demand is the premiere secure streaming platform for theaters, arts venues, performers, and producers worldwide. Using the gold standard in streaming technology and DRM (digital rights management) protection, Broadway On Demand offers a variety of benefits. 

TCT’s 2020-2021 re-imagined MainStage season included: The Velveteen RabbitGarfield, The Musical with Cattitude; and Rapunzel’s Hairy Fairy Tale. These titles are TCT original works/commissions and/or have streaming rights available, allowing for digital offering. This flexibility also enabled TCT to pivot to virtual streaming exclusively if the pandemic continued to progress.

This re-imagined season predicts a slightly better year-end position than if TCT simply canceled all MainStage productions with no alternative performances. These virtual offerings bring diversification of revenue and growth, allowing the organization to expand its reach globally to many different audiences. It also furthers TCT’s mission-centric programming, keeps patrons engaged and safe, and all TCT staff employed. 

Tralen Doler joined Broadway Licensing as the Vice President of Broadway On Demand, having previously worked for Music Theatre International as the Content Manager.

In addition to his work in marketing, Tralen is also an active director and choreographer. Previous directing/choreography credits include: A Christmas Carol (National Tour starring Barry Williams and Jackee Harry), The Producers (Northeast Regional Tour), La Cage aux Folles (Zoni Award for Best Direction and Choreography), Crazy for YouThoroughly Modern MillieChicago42nd StreetOklahoma!HAIR!ShowboatDames at Sea, and Singin’ in the Rain to name a few. Television credits include: “A Century of Broadway” (PBS Special starring Frederica von Stade). A dedicated supporter of the LGBT community, Tralen annually produces the Night of a Thousand Genders, benefiting the Gender and Family Project, which has featured Cynthia Nixon, Olympia Dukakis, and Alan Cumming and choreographed benefits for Broadway Cares and the New Jersey AIDS Alliance featuring Lea Michele and Ashley Brown.

“Broadway On Demand is thrilled to have TCT on our platform. Their innovation and dedication to creating art in these times is inspiring and exactly what we hope for in a partner. We look forward to sharing more of their thrilling work with viewers around the world.”

Tralen Doler, Vice President of Broadway On Demand

Would you honor Broadway On Demand with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: EdTA and the JumpStart Theatre Program

JumpStart Theatre final performances at the Taft Theatre, 2019

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 Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) is a national nonprofit organization based in Cincinnati with student and professional members. EdTA’s mission is shaping lives through theatre education by honoring student achievement in theatre and enriching their theatre education experience; supporting teachers by providing professional development, networking opportunities, resources, and recognition; and influencing public opinion that theatre education is essential and builds life skills. 

EdTA, in collaboration with New York City-based companies iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI), created JumpStart Theatre, a scalable pilot program designed to build sustainable musical theatre programs where there previously were none. The pilot launched in Cincinnati in 2015.

JumpStart Theatre is modeled after the successful Broadway Junior Musical Theatre Program founded by The Shubert Foundation, iTheatrics, and MTI in 2005 in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education. 

As of 2019, JumpStart Theatre is being implemented in Cincinnati, OHSan Diego, CASt. Louis, MOAtlanta, GA; and Frostburg, MD

JumpStart Theatre aims to:

• be sustainable and implemented in underserved middle schools nationwide,

• engage as many students as possible in all aspects of theatre,

• prepare students for high school, college, and the workforce by instilling 21st-century collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and creativity skills.

How it works:

Schools are chosen based on a rigorous application process and site visit. JumpStart Theatre provides participant schools with materials, budget, and training support (valued at $12,000 annually) to produce one full-scale musical production a year. The program engages existing teachers trained through three “boot camps,” covering all areas of musical theatre production. The teacher teams also receive ongoing coaching from a trained mentor, empowering them to guide their programs independently. Students are involved in every aspect of the production: performance, costumes, sets, and design. The three-year grants support building the program to reach a sustainable level.

Performances:

Teams mount at least two public performances for their schools and communities and come together with the other teams and their students in an annual showcase that includes a selected musical theatre number from each school.

Each production will draw from MTI’s Broadway Junior series, which adapts classic and contemporary musicals into one-hour editions suitable for middle-school performers. Each show also comes with a kit that supplies teachers with all the resources they need to direct, choreograph, and teach the show’s music.

Julie Cohen Theobald is the Executive Director of the Educational Theatre Association. She has a lifelong involvement in theatre and twenty years of business, marketing, and management experience. She ranked in the Top 50 Marketers in the US awarded by Advertising Age in 2005. In 1997, Julie started at Procter & Gamble in the New Business Development group on the national launch of Febreze. Febreze grew to $150 million sales in its first year, ranking it in the Top 10 new products in the 1990s. She spent 6 years in the Laundry category where she was Brand Manager for Tide detergent comprising over $2 billion in sales. She led Tide to the fastest growth in its 60-year history, launching 2 new products that ranked in the top 10 launches of the year.

At the Educational Theatre Association, Julie serves over 5,000 theatre educators and 100,000 student members of the International Thespian Society with programs that strengthen theatre in the school setting. She has grown the organization over 50% since taking the helm in 2011 and forged key partnerships with the theatre industry in New York City and advocacy leaders in Washington, DC.

Julie holds an MBA from the University of Chicago in business economics and marketing, and a BA from Duke University in public policy. She is a wife and mother, is active in Cincinnati community theatre as an actor, director, and producer, and has served on the board of trustees of the Cincinnati Arts Association. We recently spoke with Julie, and here’s what she had to say:

“Educational Theatre Association is a national association that supports theatre in schools across the country. I have been working with a program called “Jumpstart Theatre,” which brings theatre to middle schools that do not have these programs. We have been partnering with The Children’s Theatre for about three years, and they have really taken ownership of this program.”

She continues: “Our showcase was held at the Taft Theatre and was run by TCT staff members. This showcase was a performance by these middle school children in this program. For many of them, this was their first time performing in a production. The exhilaration and pride that followed the performance was so rewarding for us to see. Through the help of The Children’s Theatre, we were able to create this experience for these kids.”

TCT will accept applications for new JumpStart Theatre programs in January 2022 for the 22-23 school year.

Would you honor EdTA and JumpStart Theatre with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: STAR Program Alumni

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. 

For the last 21 years, TCT’s renowned STAR Programs have trained students ages 9–18 to become well-rounded performers in all areas of musical theatre through an immersive multi-week intensive. Some alumni have gone on to national tours, Broadway, and even been a finalist on American Idol! These competitive programs are audition-based, and students accepted spend the summer working with leading professionals in the theatre business, helping them improve in all areas. Their work culminates in a final showcase and one-act festival. 

Melissa Campbell

“I truly miss the TCT community! I remember feeling so much love when going to STAR Camp and rehearsals for TCT and feeling like we were all building each other up as an ensemble. We encouraged each other always to be better than we were the day before, and without that lesson of perseverance, I don’t think I would be the performer I am today!”

Allison Edwards 

“My first year at STAR Camp was in 2011, and my last year was in 2017! My favorite STAR experiences include when I got to play the role of Shelly in Bat Boy! I also always loved performing in the traditional FAME medley finale.”

“All of the coaching and training from the amazing staff helped me train and grow as an artist throughout STAR. STAR Camp has helped me gain the professionalism and confidence that I need in the future for auditioning and performing on stage!”

“As I’ve grown and performed with TCT, I have always seen the enthusiasm and excitement of children as they watched the shows. I have had kids come up to me after performing at TCT who said they wanted to be on stage and perform! It’s a great feeling to see that children are enjoying theatre and the arts.”

“What I miss most about The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is the kindness, determination, and professionalism everyone has while putting on a show. I miss the excitement and applause from the audience in the Taft Theatre and making families smile. I will always hold TCT true to my heart because they have shaped me to become the artist I am today.”

“I am forever grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the TCT family and will never forget the wonderful experiences and people I’ve been able to work with. Words cannot express how thankful I am for the TCT organization. I hope to have future experiences working with TCT again!”

Courtney Hammonds

“For seven years, STAR Camp was the highlight of my summer. Over four long weeks, I got to learn how to be a well-rounded young professional. One of my favorite events at STAR was the STAR Olympics, where all the groups competed in theatre-related games. The team spirit was my favorite part. Each team goes all out with custom spirit wear and a team chant!”

“In addition to a full showcase each year, each group puts on a full hour-long play or musical in just four weeks. It goes by incredibly fast and requires a significant amount of focus and homework. A standout moment that changed and shaped me as an artist was when twelve-year-old me had to accomplish this goal in three weeks due to a week-long conflict. I had to learn to be disciplined, take detailed notes and pick up on choreography very fast to keep up. It matured me as a performer.”

“STAR definitely helps young performers develop creativity and imagination. In the annual One-Act Festivals, sometimes a show is double cast. Because two people share the same role, we had to learn to put on our own creative spin on our character. I learned not to compare myself to others and gained confidence in my portrayal of my characters. I had to use my own creativity and not become a replica of someone else.”

“I loved working with youth who were serious about their craft. I loved learning and growing with my peers. At STAR, we are a community, an ensemble, and a family; and it is felt most during the Showcase finale. I will forever miss performing the FAME medley. There is no feeling like the unity of 80 young professionals wearing a big white star singing, “…and in time, we will ALL be STARs.”

“TCT will forever hold a special place in my heart. The environment is always positive, and the staff is very supportive. The skills I’ve learned while training at STAR and working on TCT’s MainStage will last a lifetime. Thank you, TCT, for enhancing my love of theatre.”

Would you honor STAR Program Alumni with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: Our Interns

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. 

Thank you to all of the interns who chose TCT to help formulate their learning, bringing talents to every aspect of our organization. We are so proud of you!

Elaine M. Cox

Associate Director of Development at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2019, Marketing DepartmentUniversity of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, Masters of Arts Administration
University of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business, MBA

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why?

Yes! I was kind of an “old” intern (haha), having worked in the arts for eight years before my internship, but Krista and the entire team provided me with great experience relevant to Cincinnati. It was great to learn the ins and outs of the city’s arts landscape before I graduated. And now, in my current role at Cincy Shakes, I’ve been able to work with TCT’s Development Team on database projects which has been a special full-circle moment.

Favorite internship memory: 

I loved going out to NKU to watch a day of STARS rehearsal. It was so inspiring to watch the campers’ hard work – the culmination of what the staff works so hard for all year.

What TCT means to me: 

TCT is magical. I remember my first theatre experience when I was around six years old… though it wasn’t at The Children’s Theatre, the spirit felt the same. That performance 26 years ago opened my eyes to a world of wonder and possibility. It was such a privilege to work to deliver those same moments to the next generation of theatre audiences… and I count myself so lucky to live in a city that values the importance of theatre for children!


Julia Fowler

Marketing Manager at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
 2014, Marketing DepartmentOhio University, BS Visual Communication
University of Cincinnati, College of Business, MS – Marketing

Did Your TCT Internship Prepare You for the Job You are Doing Now and Why?:

I would say so!

Favorite Internship Memory:

Making a video about ArtReach (now TCT On Tour) and its impact on students.

What TCT Means To Me:

TCT means creating the future arts-loving patrons of our city. The arts were integral in my life growing up, and it means a lot to pay it forward.


Angela Hamilton

Community Programs Coordinator at Lyric Opera of Chicago 
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2016, Marketing Department
2015, Stage Management
DePaul University, BFA in Theatre Management

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why?  

This internship made me realize that I like working with young people and helping them learn more about themselves through the arts.

Favorite internship memory: 

Working the Grand Opening of the new building on Red Bank Road was so fun!

What TCT means to me: 

TCT is a great place for young people to see themselves, express who they are, and shine. It was my first internship, and I left having learned so much!


Jake Hill

Communications Director at Denali Education Center,
Denali National Park, AK
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2007, Stage ManagementOhio University, BA English: Creative Writing

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing and why?:

Everything I did at TCT was a first that prepared me for something else down the line. TCT offered me my first paid acting job, my first internship, my first full-time job, and my first opportunities to “fake it ’til you make it.” I came in at the bottom, but I was always treated with kindness and respect, and I was given responsibility that made me want to earn trust. My time at TCT not only prepared me for my job, it likely set me on the trajectory to wind up working for another educational non-profit. At TCT, I learned that a good organization is a magnet for some of the very best people and that believing in the work you do is a tremendous gift.

Favorite internship memory: 

One thing I will always remember is sitting in a staff meeting, where I offered a suggestion about something or other. Whatever it was didn’t make an impact and was ultimately rejected. At the end of the meeting, Jack (Louiso) said, “Don’t take it personally; no one will take you seriously until your 30.” At the time, I remember being offended because I felt like I was already an adult. Looking back, I realize what a kid I still was and what a huge impact all of the people I met through TCT have had on me. 

What TCT means to me:

I had the opportunity to work with the best stage manager, the best costumer, the best scenic designers, the best actors— everyone talented and dedicated while still humble and gracious. All of these people were friends as well as role models; every one of them helped and supported me, and they are all a part of who I am today. As it turned out, Jack was right; but what he didn’t tell me was that by 30, I would stop taking myself so seriously. Now that was the real trick.


Skye Cone Ivey

Director of Retail and Operations with 4th Period,
New York, NY
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2016-2017 Spring Shows (Wizard of Oz + Tarzan), Stage ManagementUniversity of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, BFA, Stage Management 

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why?:

Yes, absolutely! I learned vital communication and interpersonal skills that I use in life and in my work. I grew in confidence as a member of the stage management team. In my current role, I access the lessons I learned from my time as a stage management intern every single day. 

Favorite internship memory: 

Learning how to make Tarzan fly! 

What TCT means to me: 

TCT means working with people that care about my growth as a professional and a person.


Grace Kelmer

Director of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, Benton Harbor, MI
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2013, Development and Marketing DepartmentsUniversity of Cincinnati CCM, MA in Arts Administration
University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business, MBA

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why?: 

Absolutely! My practical experience going into the internship was mainly in the areas of programming and operations. The donor relations, gala planning, and social media management experience rounded out my skill set and have all been useful, but what connected with me most was the grant writing. You get to combine storytelling with data in a way that generates crucial resources for your organization. The grants I read and reviewed at TCT were a case study I built upon when I started to lead the arts grants plan for The Mendel Center.

Favorite internship memory: 

I got to be Pinkalicious for a handful of summer library visits. I read books, autographed coloring sheets, and juggled pink cupcakes for groups of little ones who had trouble keeping their excitement within library-appropriate volume levels. As an Arts Administration student, I never would have guessed my internship would involve costume and wig fittings!

What TCT means to me: 

I am so impressed by TCT’s conviction that performances for children should be of the highest professional quality and accessible to all. Whether at the Taft, on tour, or now virtually, it’s a place where so many have felt – and discovered – the joy and magic of live theater. How can you beat that?

Though I live in Michigan now, I was thrilled to present the digital version of Martin’s Dream during our community’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration this January. My TCT experience has stayed with me for the past six years, and I’m so happy to have been able to integrate it into my current work.


Bryan (Kweon) Kim

Financial Controls Manager at Aon, Chicago, IL
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2012, Accounting and Finance DepartmentsUniversity of Cincinnati, College of Business, Accounting

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why? 

It was a pleasure working with then Executive Director Val Krueckeberg. I learned so much from her. My TCT internship gave me an opportunity to grow as a professional and gave me a good foundational experience to build upon.

Favorite internship memory: 

Visiting the theater to watch a show in person!

What TCT means to me: 

It was my very first internship, and I still apply a few coaching points from Val to this day.


Kelsi Moore 

Student + Part-Time Social Media and Website Development with Social Synergy Group
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2021, Development and Marketing DepartmentsMiami University (OH), Receiving degrees in Theatre, Entrepreneurship and Arts

Do you feel that your TCT internship is preparing you for a job in the future and why?

Yes! As I mentioned previously, I am majoring in Theatre, Arts Management, and Entrepreneurship, so I hope to work within a theatre company after graduation. This was my first experience interning with a theatre company!

Favorite Internship Memory:

I had a lot of fun interviewing people for this 101 story project! It was so much fun to chat with a variety of people within the community and arts sector and hear their stories of how TCT has made a significant impact on their lives.

What TCT means to me: 

I grew up attending shows at The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. These shows were the initial spark of my love for the theatre. Since then, theatre has made a major impact on my life and is something I want to continue in for the rest of my life!


Erica Nyberg

Marketing Director for Development, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
September 2013 – April 2014, Marketing DepartmentUniversity of Cincinnati, Lindner College of Business, Master of Business Administration, Marketing Concentration Certificate
University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, Master of Arts Administration

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why? 

When I was an intern at TCT, I worked with both the Marketing and Development Departments, and now in my current position, I am the Marketing Director for Development. TCT was a great beginning for my current cross-departmental role.

Favorite internship memory: 

I loved working at the TCT Gala event. I got to see all the preparation that went into it, then be a part of the magic as everything came to life the night of the event.

What TCT means to me: 

TCT is an incredible organization with a passionate team that does so much for our Cincinnati arts community. We are lucky to have them!


Kristi Reed

Grants Plus Engagement Specialist, Cincinnati, OH
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2010-2012, Development DepartmentUniversity of Cincinnati, MA in Arts Administration, MBA

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why?

Yes! TCT absolutely gave me an essential footing for my current work as a grant consultant. I had only had one job before my internship at TCT, and working with the development director and executive director at the time really helped to build my strength in writing, tailoring proposals, finding new ways to showcase data to report to funders, and creatively searching for new ways to engage funders with the organization. Each of these components is a critical part of the job I do now, as I work with a wide variety of clients in all non-profit sectors.

Favorite internship memory:

I have always loved working the performances, watching the kids be engaged, and totally swept into the show and the story. Live theatre is special, and I’m grateful for The Children’s Theatre for making it so accessible. I also love sharing my memories of TCT with my three-year-old Dominic, and I can’t wait to bring his little brother Simon either when he gets a little bigger! 

What TCT means to me:

TCT has a special place in my heart since it is the first place many children experience theatre for the first time. It shows them that you can be anything, dream anything, think anything, and so much more. It’s engaging, colorful, fun, and just so special. TCT is an essential part of Cincinnati’s arts culture, and I hope it’s around for another 101 years!


Michelle Robinson

Cincinnati Arts Association, Ticketing Services Support Manager
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2014, Marketing DepartmentOhio University, Bachelor of Science, Journalism 

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing now and why?

Absolutely! My time at TCT made me realize that the arts community in my home city has so much to offer for a broad range of audiences. It inspired me to start a career in entertainment Ticketing with the Cincinnati Arts Association.

Favorite internship memory: 

Dressing as the Snow Queen to read to children at Cincinnati Public Library locations to promote the upcoming season. I’ll never forget a little kid whispering in my ear, “I know who you are. You’re someone’s MOM!” 

What TCT means to me: 

TCT means a place where our community can inspire young audiences to cultivate a love of performing arts and show all the doors that can be opened through creativity.


Michailean Taylor 

Theatre teacher & Part-Time lecturer, Ministry of Education & The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2016, Development and Marketing DepartmentsIU Bloomington, Master of Arts in Arts Administration 

Did your TCT internship prepare me for my current job?: 

Definitely! My TCT experience is directly referenced when I engage with my students, particularly within one of the courses I lecture: Enterprise Internship in the Arts. Students registered for this course must form a consultancy company, attach themselves to a Creative Enterprise, identify an area to be strengthened and present their ideas for improvement. Without my TCT experience, understanding how internal consultation and improvements happen, I would not be as informed as I am today. 

Favorite internship memory: 

That’s a hard one. Can I tie a couple together? During my very last week at TCT, I toured all the operating arms of the company. I remember being like a kid in a candy store… the experience was PHENOMENAL! Have you ever seen TCT’s Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland perform? So many integral parts that on their own are cool to watch but together, they’re simply majestic. 

What TCT means to me: 

A special place I visit in my mind, where memories of my internship warm my heart for two reasons:

1. They’re more than a team… they see each other as family… my family. 

2. They understand the need for theatre, the needs of children, and where the two intersect.


Brittany Vernon 

Art Bridges Foundation, Learning & Engagement Manager, Bentonville, AR
TCT InternshipSchool & Degree
2017, Education and Marketing DepartmentsUniversity of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, MA/MBA Arts Administration

Did your TCT internship prepare you for the job you are doing and why?: 

In my TCT internship position, I helped produce some of the educational content for students and teachers to interact with the shows, which directly relates to some of the work I do now with designing learning opportunities related to visual art. TCT was my very first job opportunity working in the performing arts, and I’ll never forget how welcoming everyone was but especially give a huge shout out to Mary, Krista, and Julia for contributing to my learning and showing me examples of people who truly love what they do and care about making a difference.

Favorite internship memory: 

I remember most clearly working at the Kids Club before Peter Pan and interacting with children and their families as they enjoyed activities together before the show. It was especially impactful to see grandparents with their grandchildren enjoying that special time together and hearing about how Kids Club and TCT shows are what they looked forward to doing together. I think the performances I attended were around Halloween, so there were adorable costumes in the mix too.


Would you honor our interns with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: Media Sponsor Local 12

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. 

Jon Lawhead, Group Manager/General Manager – WKRC-TV · ‎Sinclair Broadcast Group

For 20 years, Local 12 WKRC-TV has been a generous media sponsor of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. Whether giving away tickets, running public service announcements or sharing on-air talent to appear in MainStage productions, Local 12 has helped TCT engage with the community since 2001.

Jon Lawhead, Group Manager/General Manager – WKRC-TV · ‎Sinclair Broadcast Group says: “The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati does such great work in the community. Where else can you experience the magic, sight and sound of live theatre crafted for kids, yet a treat for adults too.  We’re proud to be their media partner and look forward to continuing to collaborate with them in 2021 and for many years to come.”

Would you honor Local 12 with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: Joe Rigotti

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. 

Joe Rigotti in the 2020 issue of Cincinnati Magazine.

Mr. Joe Rigotti is the Creative Director of Accent on Cincinnati, Inc., a full-service destination management/ event design and production company comprised of designers, event managers, and logistics coordinators who bring a unique experience to events regardless of venue or location.

In 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, Joe staged a fully-designed fundraising event coinciding with TCT’s performance of DISNEY’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2 ON STAGE! Without a budget of any kind, Joe created a fantastic evening for families and helped TCT during a tough year.  Since then, Joe has gotten a budget, and he and Accent on Cincinnati have been producing TCT’s annual galas and fundraisers.

Too much is never enough for this incredible event designer, who’s not afraid to shake things up and has a never-ending reservoir of ideas. Joe came to Cincinnati via the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music’s musical theatre program. He has always had a very performance-based mentality and loves theatre.

We caught up with Joe, and here’s what he had to say:

“Cincinnati is fortunate to have such a thriving arts scene – and sometimes TCT is overlooked. It should be considered an anchor in our arts community as it is often one of the first touchpoints of live performance for many of our area’s children.  And the work is more than just the MainStage productions – it reaches wide into the community.”

He continues: “Always a love for theatre of all kinds – What impresses me most about Children’s Theatre is the production level and creativity of each production.  It is awe-inspiring.”

“TCT goes above and beyond with the quality of each production – so visually stimulating that wows kids from the moment they step into the theatre – as well as wonderful storytelling that really engages its audiences.”

“With so many of us with our faces buried in phones, it is imperative that organizations like TCT thrive in our community. It goes beyond entertainment:  it touches you like no movie or television show could. TCT embodies the magic of theatre – on all levels – for all ages.”

“My involvement with Children’s Theatre began over 25 years ago – when I appeared in two productions: THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW and CINDERELLA. Fast forward 20 years, and I find myself involved again – this time behind the scenes helping with the annual gala fundraisers.”

Would you honor Joe Rigotti with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: TCT’s Young Artists

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 Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is committed to featuring young people in age-appropriate roles on the MainStage. To celebrate young actors in leading roles, we spoke with a few recent members of TCT’s Young Artists Company. Here’s what they had to say:

KAVAN VADIVELU

Mowgli:  Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS, 2019

“As a young professional performing artist, the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is a place where I can truly express my talents and learn what it takes to be a real professional artist with some of the best in the business! In short, the TCT has taught me what grit, hard work, and organization really means.” – KAVAN


DIANA HUTCHINSON

Annie:  Annie JR., 2020

“Theatre for children matters to me because not only does it shape the children of the next generation but it always shares with them many other pathways that they may have not thought was for them. It might inspire them not only to start but to appreciate art and creation for themselve. Yet it also sparks their imagination and helps them live in the moment as children and teaches them lessons while also providing entertainment. Theatre for children matters because children matter to the world and giving them their own helps shape them to be ready to take on the world on their own. 

TCT has taught me how to be an independent artist and how to shape my craft to not only inspire others but to push for change in how the world views young actresses of color. It has given me a place to grow as a young artist and will continue to be a safe space for me to create art for others.” – DIANA 


JACK KRUSE

Casper: Casper, The Friendly Musical, 2019

“TCT inspired me to get into acting in the first place. Seated in the audience at Taft Theatre, my brothers and I were blown away watching Madagascar. The actors were so talented and funny. After that performance, I wanted to see as many live performances as possible and I knew I wanted to be an actor. I started training at TCT’s classes and camps, where I gained confidence because I felt supported by all the other actors and instructors. 

At TCT, I learned that unexpected events can appear to throw everything off track. But with a little improvising, you can smooth things over and get back on track. This newfound wisdom was reassuring and helped me to overcome my nerves and fears. I also learned the importance of hard work and planning. The magic that the audience experiences at performances is the result of many hours of preparation. Both of these lessons have come in handy in every area of my life. “ –JACK


BROOKE CHAMBERLAIN

Alice:  Alice in Wonderland, 2016 

“An overall lesson that TCT has taught me is to work hard in and out of the theatre. The work doesn’t stop when you walk out of the stage door, you have to keep on practicing so that you can perform to the best of your abilities!

Theatre for children matters to me because if there is one thing that kids love, it’s magic! And live theatre is one of the most magical things a child can experience.” —BROOKE


In three words, describe TCT:

“Adaptive, Friendly, and Home”  – KAVAN

“Magical, Creative, and Family”  – JACK

“Inclusive, Nurturing, (and most importantly) Fun!”  – BROOKE

“Guiding, Loving, and Inspirational” – DIANA

Would you honor these young stars with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?


101 Stories: Joy O’Dell

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. 

Joy O’Dell with Molly in 2000

As a professional dog trainer, Joy O’Dell has worked with The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati on countless performances preparing dogs for their stage debut with the company. Joy has worked with animals in still photos, on Disney commercials, and in theater productions.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2000 Cincinnati Enquirer feature about Joy.

Q. Ever met a dog whose head was too big?

A. Never. Dogs don’t have egos; that’s why it’s so great to work with them.

Q. How do you reward a job well done?

A. With praise and the occasional treat. I don’t think food training is the way to go, however. Animals appreciate verbal rewards just as much, and it’s healthier. 

Q. What is the easiest type of dog to train?

A. Golden retrievers and Dobermans are great. I love Dobies. But all dogs are trainable and, believe it or not, can learn up to a 70-word vocabulary.

We recently caught up with Joy.  Here is what she said about her TCT experience:

“TCT means Family to me: from the early days of Jack Louiso to Angela Powell Walker, to the current Artistic Director, Roderick Justice. I am referring to a group of adults that oversee the nurturing and growth of its children.”

She continues: “TCT has had the ability to reach children of all backgrounds and ages, encouraging them to grow and reach for their own “Star” regardless of what that means for each child.  To expose them to the possibilities they may not have dreamed of without being introduced to live theatre. Awakening children’s imagination to dream their own dream.”

“It’s been my privilege to have a small part in watching the children of our city respond to this amazing opportunity.”

Would you honor Joy O’Dell with a gift to recognize the impact made on TCT?