Just last week, my husband and I took a trip up to the Hippodrome in Baltimore to see “Hamilton,” where one lyric in the first act stuck out to me in particular: Look at where we are. Look at where we started.
It’s been more than 60 years since Children’s Theatre of Annapolis started with a production of “Hansel and Gretel” in 1959. Despite being on CTA’s Board of Directors for more than seven years, I realized that I knew very little about the early years of the organization. With a little digging into the files in the theatre’s back office, I was able to find a typewritten history that filled in a few blanks for me.
Here’s what I learned: CTA was founded by Jane Young Davis, who directed “Hansel and Gretel,” along with Lydia Nolan and Martha Wright—and others, because we all know it takes a village to get those productions mounted each and every year. As the years went by, the group added workshops, they added productions and they moved from elementary schools to Anne Arundel Community College to, finally, CTA’s current building in Bay Head Park.
Just think about how much CTA owes to Jane, Lydia, Martha, and the others who saw the organization through its early years! How many children’s lives have been changed due to their creativity, persistence and dedication?
I think that’s why the song lyric from “Hamilton” resonated so much with me, particularly since just two days earlier, I had officially taken office as the 2019-2021 CTA president. The organization has come so far in the past 60 years, from one production staged at an elementary school to a full-fledged theatre arts company with three mainstage performances and a wide roster of classes, camps, and workshops, all taking place in its own building. When I say it’s our own building, I truly mean it—this past May, CTA reached the major milestone of paying off the mortgage on the facility, just 10 years after its opening in 2008. And, yet, there’s always so much room to grow.
Sixty years in, we still have big dreams for CTA, including the replacement of the auditorium seats (which were secondhand when purchased 10 years ago!), development of the annex into a more useful rehearsal, education and/or production space, and bigger and better productions and educational opportunities for the people who we are all here to support: the children. You can be a part of CTA realizing those dreams—and others!—by donating via a secure PayPal link today.
In 2000, as CTA celebrated its 40th anniversary, The Baltimore Sun did a piece on the theatre and quoted Jane: “We were there to make the children's lives better and to teach them responsibility and respect. I think it's worked pretty well."
Jane, I think you might be right.
Kelsey Casselbury, CTA President