Broadway Quality in Mason
Photography provided by Children's Theatre of Mason
“There is so much more to us than just what the name implies,” says Karen Kilgore, president of the Children’s Theatre of Mason (CTM).
It’s not that CTM isn’t a children’s theater. It is. But don’t assume the musicals aren’t up to snuff simply because all the actors are under 18. “These aren’t little kids shows,” says Kilgore. “The level of talent is incredible.”
CTM was founded in 2003 by a group of Mason mothers who wanted a local theatre organization for their children. The first show, “12 Dancing Princesses,” featured a cardboard stage because the group had no money and no volunteers. That isn’t the case now.
CTM has eight volunteer board members and a six-figure annual operating budget. Parent volunteers help build sets, create costumes and staff the performances. Support has poured in from community leaders, corporate owners and individual patrons. CTM puts on two large-scale productions every year, each with a cast of around 60 and staffed by top quality directors, production crew members and instructors. Since 2003, it has sold 34,000 tickets and cast more than 1,000 children hailing from all around Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Dayton.
“People say our shows are Broadway quality,” says Kilgore.
“We’ve never wanted to do just an OK show,” adds director Dirk Doebereiner. “We want to raise the bar with every show. Every time we try to improve and grow and be more complicated. We want to put on the most professional show we can.”
In addition to the live productions, CTM also offers drama classes, workshops and an enormously popular series of summer camps. “It’s a great experience for these kids,” says Doebereiner. “They gain so much confidence. Even if they never do theater again, some of the skills they learn they carry with them for the rest of their lives. They learn to think on their feet, and they’ll never have trouble speaking in front of the class or at a business meeting.”
For Kilgore, CTM’s programs also teach kids to learn how to take no for answer. “Sometimes how you handle that ‘no’ will define you better than how you handle a ‘yes,’ ” she says. “You’ve got to learn how to navigate the ups and downs, because that’s what life throws at you.”
There are also important lessons for the parents involved. “As a parent, we don’t want to push our kids out of their comfort zones,” she says. “But here, it’s a safe environment so we can push the kids. We might not think our kids are capable of putting on a Broadway-level musical, but we don’t realize how much these kids can actually do if they’re pushed to that next level.”
CTM will produce “Les Miserables” at the Mason High School auditorium in the fall of 2015. For ticket information, email tickets@ChildrensTheatreOfMason.com.
The Children’s Theatre of Mason is located at 308 West Main Street, Mason, OH 45040. You can reach them at 513.398.0116 or visit their website at www.childrenstheatreofmason.com.