The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati Announces JumpStart Theatre Program Winners

TCTC_Jumpstart 2020

2019 JumpStart Showcase at the Taft Theatre. Each school wore a different color t-shirt: Aiken New Tech High School – Cherry Red, Finneytown Middle School – Lime green, Gamble Montessori High School – Purple, Dater High School – Gold, Felicity Franklin Middle School – Texas Orange, Holmes Middle School – Heliconia (Magenta), Clark Montessori High School – Kelly Green, Oyler School – Sapphire Blue. Photo by Mikki Schaffner.

May 29, 2020, CINCINNATI:  After a months-long in-person and “virtual” 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.

Bellevue Middle School in Bellevue, KY; St. Bernard Elmwood Place Schools in St. Bernard, OH; and Pleasant Ridge Montessori in Cincinnati, OH, were selected to be part of the three-year program beginning in the 2020-21 school year.  They join Hartwell Elementary, Liberty Bible Academy, and Summit Academy Cincinnati Community School who were selected last 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 Bellevue Middle School, St. Bernard Elmwood Place Schools and Pleasant Ridge Montessori to the JumpStart Theatre Program for the 20-21 school year.  All the schools that applied were wonderful candidates and will be invited to the boot camp trainings and to apply again for the 2021-22 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:

“The staff and students of St. Bernard are excited to have been chosen to work with Children’s Theatre to put on a school musical! This is an amazing opportunity for our students and community! We are extremely grateful!” — Erin Cupito, Teacher, St. Bernard Elmwood Place Schools

“We’re deeply grateful for this opportunity to provide options for our students to continue and explore new pathways of performance. We hope to use the transformative power of performance to enrich the lives of our students.” — Chris Wheeler, Band Director and Performing Arts, Bellevue Middle School

“It is a huge honor for Pleasant Ridge Montessori to be selected for this great opportunity.  Our students have always loved being involved in the arts and the JumpStart Theatre program will bring our school to the next level.  It aligns with our school goals of putting students at the center of all we do.  Not only will students be able to perform in a full-scale musical, but they will be able to participate in all aspects of the production.  This exposure to the arts not only will encourage our students, but also will give lasting memories and a life-long love of theatre.” — Maria Kitsinis, Music Specialist, Pleasant Ridge Montessori

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.

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


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