The Children's Theatre History
"According to recent evidence, the legacy of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati began with Helen Schuster-Martin in the Schuster-Martin School of Drama in 1919.
Helen was a Junior League of Cincinnati member and brought her expertise of live theatrical entertainment for children by launching The Junior League Players 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 Junior League of Cincinnati continued to maintain a standing committee to provide volunteer support for many years after TCT's launch, and the two organizations have maintained a close partnership for the past 100 years."
-- Haley B. Elkins • Managing Director, Junior League of Cincinnati
Helen Schuster-Martin coins the name The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and begins directing productions for young audiences.
The Junior League formed the Junior League Players, a group of members who performed for 700 children that year under the direction of Helen Schuster-Martin.
Production of THE WIZARD OF OZ produced by The Junior League Players. Helen Schuster-Martin, Director.
11,000 children reached. "This year leadership is outstanding...sufficient interest and girl power to carry it."
(Chandler, Field Report from Children's Theatre staff, October)
A costume sketch from a production of MANY MOONS.
The Junior League of Cincinnati provided a $12,600 grant to launch a non-profit organization, and The Children’s Theatre was officially incorporated. After an initial season at Hughes High School, the Emery Auditorium became TCT’s home for the next two decades.
“The Children’s Theatre promises to become a Cincinnati institution to boast about.” (Marjorie Lunken in a letter to Miss Weisgerber, November 13)
Produced HOLIDAY ON ICE show using the frozen floor of Cincinnati Gardens.
Moved from the Emery Auditorium to the Taft Theare. Otto Kvapil of Xavier University became executive director.
Began offering one public performance of each show on a Friday evening at 7:30 PM to provide another opportunity for kids to see the performances.
Took part in the Greater Cincinnati Bicentennial Celebration with Cincinnati’s Bicentennial Musical: A CINCINNATI STORY.
The first paid staff at The Children’s Theatre were hired: Jack Louiso, Artistic Director, and Susie Louiso, Executive Director.
The launch of STAR, an audition-based summer program providing intense musical theatre training to talented children ages 9-18.
70,000 children reached
Presented TOM SAWYER: A RIVER ADVENTURE three times daily during the Tall Stacks celebration. The show returned to the festival in 2006.
ArtReach merged with TCT, creating what would be later known as TCT On Tour.
The launch of TCT Academy
Jack and Susie Louiso retire. Opera singer and arts educator Angela Powell Walker takes the reins as Artistic Director and Val Krueckeberg becomes Executive Director.
Roderick Justice becomes Producing Artistic Director. Kim Kern adds CEO to her title of Managing Director. Construction begins on TCT's Headquarters on Red Bank Road.
TCT Academy attendance grew 340% after opening the new building on Red Bank Road in 2015.
107,000 children and families reached on the MainStage. 83,000 students reached with TCT On Tour. 1,200 enrolled in TCT Academy.
In a surge of new growth, programming expanded, including: JumpStart Theatre, and SummerStage. Worked with DC Comics to produce the first TYA version of SUPERMAN™.
Worked with composer Matthew Martin Ward and author Stephen Cole, along with Classic Media, owned by DreamWorks Animation, which is a subsidiary of NBCUniversal, to develop a version of CASPER for young audiences.
A Sixty-Minute Version of THE WIZ JR. was developed by Deondra Kamau Means, Resident Artist, and premiered April 2-11, 2022 at the Taft Theatre. Directed by Zhailon Levingston, from Broadway’s Chicken & Biscuits, Hadestown, and Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and choreographed by Tislarm Bouie.