Three Tri-State Schools Awarded Fully-Funded JumpStart Theatre Program

TCT_Disney's Aladdin JR. Oyler School

Oyler School’s production of Disney’s Aladdin JR. Photo by Susan Doremus.

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati Announced Winners Today

CINCINNATI:  After a three-month selection process, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) has named the newest tri-state area schools that will partner with the JumpStart Theatre Program.  The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF), in collaboration with New York City-based companies iTheatrics and Music Theatre International (MTI) created JumpStart Theatre, a three-year scalable program designed to build sustainable musical theatre programs in underserved schools that previously had none.

Hartwell Elementary, Liberty Bible Academy, and Summit Academy Cincinnati Community School were selected to be part of the three-year program beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

The selection process included a formal written application, site visits to the schools and interviews with administrators and the faculty who would be spearheading the program.

Kim Kern, Managing Director and CEO of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati said, “After a rigorous application and interview process, we are thrilled to welcome Hartwell Elementary, Liberty Bible Academy and Summit Academy as JumpStart Theatre partner schools for the 2019-20 school year.  All that applied were wonderful candidates and will be invited to the boot camp trainings and to apply again for the 2020-21 school year.  We are so excited to see the continued momentum of this program, and to work alongside the Educational Theatre Foundation to continue the growth locally while they expand the reach and impact nationally.”

The selected schools are incredibly enthusiastic about beginning the process:

Antwan Lewis, Principal of Hartwell Elementary, said, “We are excited to partner with JumpStart Theatre.  This is a great opportunity to showcase the talent of our diverse student population and welcome in our parents and community.  Students will now have another avenue to display their creativity through drama, art, music, technology and more.  We are ready to put this in motion!”

“Liberty Bible Academy is thrilled to be a part of the JumpStart Theatre program starting in the 2019-2020 school year,” said Julie Weber, LBA 5th and 6th Grade Teacher and JumpStart Theatre On-Site Director.  “The JumpStart Theatre team’s knowledge and training will help us build a sustainable program for years to come, and we can’t wait to watch our middle school students build confidence and strengthen their character because of this enriching opportunity.”

Lisa L. Singleton of Summit Academy Cincinnati Community School, said “We are very excited to get this program off the ground.  We plan to partner our lower school students with the upper school students.  This will open so many doors for our students who would not otherwise be exposed to theater.  Learning to make costumes; make props for the set and even mix the sounds for the production.  Students can be on stage or behind the scenes.  Our hope is that families will want to be involved as well.”

Each selected school will receive services and materials valued at $12,000 in the form of training, mentoring, and production support for a show for their community. Students will be involved in every aspect of the production, and TCT and ETF will also host an annual JumpStart Theatre showcase, bringing all the participants together to share their work.

Three teachers from each participating school are taught the techniques and skills to develop and manage a musical theatre program (everything from casting, to rehearsal schedules, to staging/choreography and technical requirements, to cultivating parent/community engagement, to achieving economic sustainability) through a series of three, full-day professional development “boot camps” each year of the three-year program, plus an ongoing mentoring/coaching relationship with an experienced theatre teaching artist.

For questions about the JumpStart Theatre Program and application process, visit or email

About The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT):
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is the oldest children’s theatre in the country.  Its mission is to educate, entertain and engage audiences of all ages through professional theatrical productions and arts education programming. Its vision is to awaken a lifelong love of theater in children and the young at heart. Today, the Children’s Theatre brings art to life for our audiences through three key programs:  TCT MainStage at the Taft Theatre, TCT on Tour (including Workshops) and TCT Academy. Each season TCT strives to reach more than 200,000 people in our region.  For more information visit

About the Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF):
The Educational Theatre Foundation  was launched November, 2017, as the philanthropic arm of the Educational Theatre Association, which is the home of the International Thespian Society. ETF provides essential financial support to enhance excellence in theatre education and to expand access to school theatre programs for every child, putting them on a more positive life path. ETF is focused on three areas: JumpStart Theatre–to create sustainable musical theatre programs where there previously were none; need-based grants to schools–to provide teaching and performance resources and equipment in under-resourced schools; and, merit and need-based grants to individuals—to nurture the next generation of theatre teachers and artists.  In its first year ETF has awarded more than $650,000 in grants, directly impacting high school theatre programs in 50 cities, and enabling the development of musical theatre programs in underserved middle schools in six states.

The JumpStart Theatre program creates sustainable theatre arts programs in middle schools where there previously were none.  Participating schools are chosen through a rigorous application process and receive training, materials, and budget support to produce their first full-scale musical production. The support continues for three years until the program becomes self-sustaining.  Non-theatre teachers are equipped with skills and resources to produce their school’s first musical through a proven combination of bootcamp style training and hands-on mentoring. The Educational Theatre Foundation operates JumpStart Theatre through a national network of regional theatre company partners who are selected based on their track-record of success in running educational programs for children. JumpStart Theatre partners are:  Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, Ga.; La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, Calif.; Mountain City Center for the Arts, Frostburg, MD; Stages St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; The Children’s Theatre, Cincinnati, OH*

*original pilot site


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