Historic Ohio Theatre Restoration

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The History Of The Children’s Theatre Workshop

In 1954, the University of Toledo’s chapter of the American Association of University Women and the Toledo Junior League wanted to bring theatrical training to Toledo-area youth. Since then, Children’s Theatre Workshop has provided theatre education through classes, programming, and theatrical productions, teaching children acting, directing, playwriting and technical crew. Through our almost 70-year history, we have stayed true to our unofficial motto, “Theatre for children, by children.”

Donor support is critical to the next chapter of Children’s Theatre Workshop.

The Historic Ohio Theatre – Our New Home!

The recent purchase of the historic Ohio Theatre offers CTW a new home and the opportunity to revive the only remaining neighborhood theatre in Toledo. Full of beautiful architecture and a rich history of providing arts entertainment to the Toledo community, the theatre is in need of major restoration to return to its former glory and serve as a functional theatre space for CTW and the Toledo region.

Offices, Classrooms, and Workspaces

Additionally, CTW has purchased the buildings adjacent to both sides of the historic Ohio Theatre which are in need of renovation to serve as the future office, classrooms, and spaces to build and store props, a costume sewing shop and storage.

The Impact Of The Children’s Theatre Workshop

The Faces Of CTW

Lyric is a senior at Emmanuel Christian Schools, class of 2022!

How long have you been doing theatre?
Going on 10 years!

What’s the best role/position you’ve had at CTW?
My favorite role was Princess Puffer in The Mystery of Edwin Drood but I have to say directing The Last Five Years so far has been the most new and exciting experience for me.

What’s the best role/position you’ve had elsewhere?
Annie in Annie Jr. I was also able to assistant choreograph, it was lots of fun!

What’s your dream role?
Jenna Hutcherson in Waitress

How has your relationship with theatre grown and matured since you first started? It’s definitely helped me come out of my shell a lot. Things that I can do now like public speaking or directing and other leadership responsibilities, I would never even dream of when I was younger. Theatre has been like my best friend and it’s been really awesome getting to grow up with it. I would be a completely different person without it.

What is a common struggle you face as a theatre practitioner and how do you overcome it?
Definitely stepping outside my bubble and becoming more confident. A lot of things did not come easy to me but I really wanted it so I dedicated my weeks to it and worked at it. I learned when to step back and when to challenge myself and I stopped looking for approval from others as long as I was having fun.

What advice would you offer younger students at CTW?
It’s okay to feel unsure, defeated, or even out of place at times, but don’t let it stop you from going after what you want. It’s not just about the roles you get but the experience you have and the people you meet. Stick with it and your work will pay off!

What is your vision for the future of theatre for children/young adults?
I want everyone to be able to have a piece of theatre in their life because it truly is magical. not just performing but every aspect of it.

Any final thoughts?
CTW has truly helped to shape me into the person I am today and discover passions I never thought I could have. Thank you Aimee for encouraging me, teaching me, and always being understanding. You are one of the reasons I fell in love with theatre!

Meet Lucas Fiscus! Lucas is a senior at Perrysburg High School, class of 2022!

How long have you been doing theatre?
I started in 2012, at CTW!

What’s the best role/position you’ve had at CTW?
It’s a toss up between being a teaching apprentice, and acting as “Alex of Trebek” in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Flying Circus.

What’s the best role/position you’ve had elsewhere?
I think the best character I’ve played in a show is Melchior in the play version of Spring Awakening, or Sonny from Grease.

What’s your dream role?
I’ve always wanted to be the Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.

How has your relationship with theatre grown and matured since you first started?
When I started out, I was really nervous in general. I also hated the idea of me singing but I think it was my mom who made me audition for a CTW show and since then I haven’t really stopped. I’ve even become more confident in singing and have been in a lot of musicals.

What is a common struggle you face as a theatre practitioner and how do you overcome it?
I struggle a lot with being more confident in both my acting and singing. It’s something I have to continuously practice to get in the right headspace to overcome.

What advice would you offer younger students at CTW?
If you like theatre, do as much of it as you can while you’re young and don’t have to worry about jobs or looking for colleges. I’ve done about 20+ shows since I started and I still wish I was able to do more!

What is your vision for the future of theatre for children/young adults?
I hope more and more people start to get involved at a younger age. It has something for everyone and can massively help better a person’s self-image. I think CTW is a great example of how theatre for young adults and children can be run simply on how much they offer. The classes ranging from writing a script, to acting, to working on the technical side of theatre are great in showing people who might be on the fence just how many facts of theatre there are to go into.

Any final thoughts?
I’d like to thank everyone I’ve met/worked with at CTW and hope that maybe in the future I’ll be able to do more!

Anjalie-Nicole Coates, Class of 2021, Maumee Valley Country Day School
I will be attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in Manhattan, New York. I plan to get my BFA for musical theatre there.

How long have you been doing theatre?
I have been doing theatre since 3rd grade, so I’d say about nine to ten years.

What’s the best role you’ve had at CTW?
I would have to say that my best and favorite role with CTW is actually my current role of Cinderella in Into The Woods. I’m so used to playing sassy and evil characters with mid to lower voices, but playing her has helped me expand my range in more ways than one. Her character also has the depth of not being a damsel in distress, but someone who is smart, caring, and can stand up for herself. She is a character who I deeply admire and it is the cherry on top to sing her fun and challenging songs while working alongside so many wonderful and talented people who I adore in this cast.

What’s the best role you’ve had elsewhere?
I am so torn between choosing Mayzie La Bird from Seussical and Mopsa in Head Over Heels, the roles I played my sophomore and junior years at my high school. Mayzie was the first true lead I ever received and I felt so honored to play her. Being usually “nothing showoff-ish” as she would have said, in real life, I loved stepping out of my comfort zone to play such a belting diva. I was especially in love with the costuming and her flourishing mannerisms. Mopsa, while not nearly as flashy, was still tough as nails and sang some of the funnest songs in the show. It was also such a rare experience to perform not only as an openly lesbian character, but take part in the Ohio premier of this musical. I was thrilled to partake in a show that was so unique, spread constant messages of love and diversity, and let me perform alongside some of my best friends to this day.

What’s your dream role?
A dream role I’ve had for forever is Eponine from Les Miserables, and a more recent addition to the dream role list is Eurydice from Hadestown. Both characters have such a wide emotional depth, are constantly compelling in spite of their tragic stories, and have beautiful and powerful songs.

How has your relationship with theatre grown and matured since you first started?
– When I first did theatre, and musical theatre especially, it began as an activity that a shy little girl looked forward to. It was a place where I could find my voice and I made friends that I still have to this day. Many years down the line, I became even braver, making bolder choices and shooting for bigger roles. I came to the realization that musical theatre is not just something I wanted to do as a hobby, but the thing I was most passionate about and wanted to do as a career. As cliche as it sounds, I came to view every cast I was a part of as a family, and I can’t wait to keep making meaningful connections on stage for years to come.

What is a common struggle you face as a theatre practitioner and how do you overcome it?
A common struggle I face as a theatre practitioner is constantly comparing myself to others. I get in my head thinking about other people who are singing, acting, and dancing better, rather than recognizing my own strengths. Throughout the years, I’ve improved with worrying less about other people being “better” than me. I instead tell myself that each of our talents come together for a common goal, and that we are not meant to outshine one another. Yes, that person is wonderful, but so am I, and I have as much to offer as they do!

What advice would you offer younger students at CTW?
To touch further on the last question, I would suggest that younger students should never worry about comparing themselves to others. They should recognize their own strengths, and yes, embrace opportunities to grow as needed too. I would also highly recommend that if they want to pursue theatre full time that they gain as much acting experience as possible. Whether it be through school or community theatre, any experience counts. They should also do research on universities that provide good theatre programs early on in order to gain all the necessary education in preparation for a professional theatrical career.

What is your vision for the future of theatre for children/young adults?
I hope that in the future, it is more common for theatre to tell the stories of those who are often left in the dark (people of color, LGBT+, disabled, etc) or at least that casts become more diverse. We are already on that path, but I would all around love to see more representation. I hope that communities continue to support youth theatre programs so that kids can continue to experience the joy of performing for others the way that I did. The arts have a wonderful way of bringing people together and therefore must be encouraged.

Any final thoughts?
Throughout my time at CTW, I have been a part of classes, workshops, and performances and have enjoyed every moment. I’ve made so many friends throughout the years and learned so much about myself and how to better my craft. I truly can’t thank the community enough for giving me a welcoming place to do what I love.

What is your title and how long have you been at CTW? 

Development and Educational Outreach Coordinator, as well as Early Stages (ages 3-6) and Players Company (ages 7-9) Program Coordinator. I have been teaching with Children’s Theatre Workshop since the Fall of 2013 but started Directing plays in 2014.

What is your favorite job at CTW? 

I love working with the students to incorporate their interests into the lesson, and their ideas into the shows. When working with younger students, you have to work on their level. There are so many different interests, skill levels, and comfort levels that you have to negotiate, and for the most part, they are still learning how to communicate their thoughts and needs so you have to watch and listen. In my experience, once you show that you are willing to watch and listen, they step forward and create. When you ask a young actor what they think their character is feeling, or have a discussion about how they think the world about their character, they have so many ideas. Fostering collaboration and ownership of the full production allows it to be their show, not the adults’.

Why theatre with children? Why not become an actress or work with adults? 

There is a certain amount of freshness in ideas when working with children. They don’t have the experiences and the background bias that adults do when approaching a story or character. They can get so much more involved in what we are creating because they usually don’t have every other occurrence of that story bouncing around their head, competing to be the “best” version. One of my favorite things to do with my students is to ask “why?” When talking with adults, you would usually get a more technical breakdown, and clear reasons, but with children, the “why” becomes much more of a conversation. They might know that it feels right, but not know the reason. When talking about the different choices or emotions for their characters, I might list three or four logical possibilities for them, and they might choose one, or the options might lead to an idea of their own. It’s like a choose your adventure, but the script doesn’t actually change.

What’s the most valuable tool you have when making theatre with children? 

Hands down, improvisation. Any teacher can tell you that the best-laid lesson plans rarely go as intended. Having the mental flexibility to listen and adapt is key to making an engaging experience. In the youth theatre world, it goes a step further because there is also the production to think about. Being able to improvise and create a world on stage for the students, usually out of items that were not originally intended to be used that way, is what our job is about. Theatre jobs tend to be well defined, just like any job, there are set responsibilities and roles. When working with youth theatre, especially nonprofit youth theatre, you end up being a jack of all trades.

What’s a common struggle you see kids having when trying to express themselves?

Communication. Especially with the younger students that I work with, they often define themselves by the people that are around them, like parents and their close friends. They know how the people around them act, but they don’t think about why that is. They try to walk the line between fitting in and showing off. They are still exploring the world; so having discussions about how they feel, how their character feels, and how it is okay for those to be different, tends to take a while to click. You also have to negotiate the different comfort levels within the ensemble. There will always be those students that will be more comfortable speaking up and taking up room in the conversation, and those that that is a struggle for. As a teacher/director, you have to advocate for those students and make sure that they know that they can speak and be listened to, without telling others that they should speak less.

What is the most important thing people need to know about youth theatre?

It’s okay if the final product is messy! As an adult, you know what live theatre productions are capable of being, all the lights, the set, the dialogue. I’m not saying that youth theatre isn’t capable of meeting those same standards, because our students and staff are. That’s just not the goal for our programs. My goal is that they are confident stepping on stage, saying their lines, and engaging with the story. If they twirl on stage more than their character necessarily would, fine. They are there to have fun, to work as a team, and tell a story. We are there to support them, to push them, but unless they feel ownership and have their drive to make it happen, it won’t.

What is your dream for CTW? 
Space and support to grow, both in our brick and mortar space, but also in our community. We are currently working on building partnerships that allow us to bring programs into our student’s neighborhoods and schools so that they don’t have to find a way to come to us. I want to be able to offer consistent and creative opportunities to our students, staff, and community members to engage with theatre together. To develop a support system in our theatre community, that when our students want to challenge themselves, there are people there to guide them, to cheer on their successes, and help them learn from their mistakes.  My big dream is that our students are able to have clear relationships and supports, that when they leave our youth programs, they are still able to have community and opportunities.

Help Us Build The Future

The Historic Ohio Theatre was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2006. In 2008, the marquee was completely destroyed by a lightning strike.

To fully restore this historic neighborhood theatre, the façade must be restored according to Toledo and Ohio historic standards. The design and creation of a new marquee must also be in accordance to modern standards, but we wish to keep a historical look to the marquee. This exterior restoration will ensure the beauty and care of this old building for generations. The 2021 estimate for restoring this façade and installing a new marquee is $1.25 million.


The careful stewardship of previous Ohio Theatre owners included the installation of accessible and updated bathrooms. The last piece in accessibility for the inside of the Ohio Theatre is the replacement of the 101 year old seats, many of which are too far gone to repair. The patrons who attend Ohio Theatre events need comfortable seats that can be easily accessed. The 2021 estimate for replacing the seats is $100,000.

South Building and Lot
CTW purchased the building and parking lot next to the Ohio Theatre, on the south side, and have made plans to transform it from an office building to the heart of CTW’s creativity, with classroom, office, parking, and rehearsal spaces for the majority of CTW’s programs. Additional funding would allow for the addition of an elevator, more classroom space, and an enclosed breezeway that connects the south building with the Ohio Theatre for better access, security, and protection from the elements. The 2021 estimate for the full renovation and addition to the south building and lot is $900,000.

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North Building

CTW is working with the city of Toledo to purchase the building on the other side of the Ohio Theatre, on the north side. This location’s renovations will allow CTW’s students to learn the hands-on technical theatre side of the arts: scenic construction, sewing, painting, and more. The building will serve as the construction and storage space for all things technical theatre. The 2021 estimate for the full renovation and addition to the south building and lot is $350,000.

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Children’s Theatre Workshop will offer naming rights opportunities for the north and south buildings to major donors. Major donors for the historic Ohio Theatre renovation projects will be commemorated on signage in the theatre lobby.

Give the Gift of Creativity

Ensure children of Toledo will always have access to the theatre arts by endowing our plays, technical theatre program, playwriting, summer camps, or musical theatre programs. By living in the heart of the Old North End, Children’s Theatre Workshop is committed to bringing the joys of theatre to all Toledo-area children. Donations to these programs put arts directly into the hands of our most vulnerable youth.

Contact Us

We would love to talk! Set up a meeting, building tour, observe a class, meet our team, or attend a show to learn more and experience for yourself Children’s Theatre Workshop

Aimee S. Reid, MFA, Executive Artistic Director



Children’s Theatre Workshop is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, which means your gift is fully tax deductible as allowed by law.

Thank you to our current sponsors and supporters

Mr. and Mrs. Darrell H. Fox Fund II
Rob and Jillian Hahn
Bridget Barelka
The Singh-Coates Family

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