At the end of the upcoming production of Les Miserables by the Commonwealth Artists Summer Theatre (CAST), a new era of youth theatre and theatrical experiences will begin when the expanded, and slightly renamed, Commonwealth Artists Student Theater begins operation.
CAST is a Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati theatre collaborative, that through professional quality productions, arts instruction and cultivating community relationships, empowers students to achieve their artistic potential under the leadership of professionals.
For six years, CAST has offered high school students from throughout the region the chance to act, sing, play instruments, create sets, assist with direction and choreography, and work the front of house for musicals not often presented by local high schools: Parade, Ragtime, The Producers, Spamalot, The Addams Family and, this year, Les Miserables. These productions have been possible with the support of Fort Thomas Independent Schools, a relationship that, while slightly altered, will continue into the next generation of CAST.
The new CAST is an independent 501(c)3 organization and will expand its offerings of on-stage and off-stage experiences for high school students in the Northern Kentucky-Greater Cincinnati community. With the ability to now generate funding in addition to ticket sales, CAST will offer a wider variety of productions including straight plays, cabarets, radio dramas, etc., but with the summer musical at Highlands High School remaining the cornerstone production.
“As arts programming in schools continues to fade, we’ve discovered that the interest and enthusiasm for theatre has not waned,” said Jason Burgess, artistic director and co-founder of CAST. “We need to move to this next level to provide more students with more experiences and to further solidify their lifetime love and appreciation of live theater, whether they pursue it as a career or as an audience member and patron.”
In addition to a wider array of on-stage offerings, the new CAST will also work collaboratively with the rich, vibrant local theatre community to create unique learning opportunities for students through workshops, job shadowing, talkback sessions, or internships. According to Amy Burgess, executive director and co-founder of CAST, “We know the generosity and talent of the Greater Cincinnati theatres and the professional actors, technicians, directors, and others and we want students to meet them, learn from them and, perhaps, become one of them down the road.”
CAST’s IRS 501(c)3 application has been approved and the founding board members are in place and are working on creating the initial marketing and financial plans, developing branding materials and an online presence, and establishing a strong foundation for the future of CAST. Those members are Michael Boberg (The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati); Helen Kemp (P&G); and Kevin Reynolds (Cincinnati Public Radio Inc.)
Stay tuned for more details on the new website (caststages.org) and plans for 2018 and beyond!