A Return Home:  The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati at the Emery 

TCT_The Emery TheaterCincinnati – The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) has embarked on a campaign to purchase, restore, and reimagine the historically significant Emery Theater. This partnership will revitalize the theatre, a treasured cultural asset, and provide a permanent home for The Children’s Theatre in Cincinnati’s vibrant urban core.   

What TCT envisions is not simply a restoration, but a reinvention of the theater into a modern and memorable venue equipped with the latest technology that inspires and teaches diverse audiences. TCT’s plans to incorporate the most modern technology, stage lifts and projection mapping will enliven the audience experience and overcome backstage and wing limitations. Through this remarkable technology and planned expanded programming, TCT will revitalize an icon, return to its original home, and put Cincinnati on the map as a family theatrical destination.  

This move will allow TCT to expand its annual production schedule beyond the 40 days currently allowed within their home in the Taft Theatre, enabling the theater to expand their programming and produce more original works.  

It will also preserve a rare, theater-style, symphonic concert hall – one of only four in the United States – that has hosted the likes of George Gershwin, Bette Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.    

TCT’s Managing Director and CEO, Kim Kern, states, “This project is of vital importance to our community for so many reasons. First, providing a permanent home for the nation’s oldest professional theatre for young audiences, but also restoring an iconic venue while honoring Mary Emery’s wishes of keeping it a place of gathering and education. TCT’s future home will continue to revitalize our city’s core – keeping Cincinnati a place where people wish to live, work, and play.”  

“Restoring the Emery for theatrical use has long been a challenge,” says GBBN associate principal, Steve Karoly. “Because the size and configuration of the stage was originally designed for an orchestra, it did not have the depth or wing space of a traditional theatrical stage. We had to develop some innovative solutions—such as using a large video screen at the back of the stage to create depth and using a large lift to access the basement for quick scene changes—to overcome that challenge.”   

“Working within the constraints of a historic theater like this has been really rewarding,” observes GBBN Director of Arts, Marcene Kinney. “This will not only be a space that weaves together different historical moments, but it will also be a space that welcomes children. So, the design is really embracing whimsy and illusion as we create a fully immersive environment that brings the magic of the theater beyond the bounds of the stage.”  

Celebrating 103 years this season, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is the oldest children’s theatre in the country and the only professional theater in the region that devotes its entire MainStage season to children. 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 audiences through three key programs: TCT MainStage at the Taft Theatre, TCT on Tour and Workshops, and TCT Academy. Each season TCT strives to reach more than 200,000 people in the Cincinnati region.    

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