Nancy Schaeffer elevated to Artistic Director at Dallas Children’s Theater
(Dallas, TX) When Robyn Flatt founded Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) in 1984, she envisioned a community of artists… actors, directors, designers, technicians and educators, all coming together to work toward the common goal of producing high quality theater. She wanted these artists to be able to flex their creative muscles, to be appreciated and to be nurtured. Over the past 37 years, that is exactly what has happened.
One such artist, who has been a remarkable team player for DCT since its inception, is Nancy Schaeffer. She has been recognized nationally as a strong director, teacher, actress, choreographer, and is a strong member of the senior staff. She is valued in the field and has been instrumental in shaping the vision and direction of the organization since its earliest days when DCT operated out of Withers Elementary. Now in 2020, Schaeffer formally steps into a new role as the organization’s Artistic Director.
Flatt recently shared the news with key stakeholders, “It is my delight to announce the promotion of our own multi-talented Nancy Schaeffer to the position of Artistic Director,” Flatt said.
Flatt added, “Nancy is an award-winning theatrical director who has mounted a wide variety of productions in the last 36 years, thrilling DCT audiences of all ages. She has charmed the very young with her productions of GO, DOG, GO! and SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL. She has captivated elementary-aged children and their parents with the majesty and suspense of plays like Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST; GOOSEBUMPS; and ELLA ENCHANTED: THE MUSICAL. She has challenged teen audiences with new works such as Linda Daugherty’s THE SECRET LIFE OF GIRLS and dont u luv me? Nancy not only directs, but she choreographs and coaches actors – whether seasoned professionals or student performers – melding them into powerful storytelling ensembles. She soars whether interpreting the production of a new script or breathing fresh life into a timeworn favorite. She truly stands tall with the best group of directors in the country.”
DCT Board President, Todd Ranta, agrees. “We are excited,” he said, “about the creativity, wisdom and energy that Nancy Schaeffer brings to DCT. I’ve had the honor of witnessing her talents over the many years. She is perfectly prepared to officially assume the role of Artistic Director, and we look forward to the imaginative journey that her leadership will take us on as we continue to advance forward.”
Schaeffer’s association with DCT dates to its beginning days in 1984 when she was not only a leading actress in many productions, but also took on the administration of its fledgling school of theater classes.
With her energy and expertise, DCT’s school has grown to become a highly sought-after Academy serving up to 4,000 students a year, and now including a vibrant musical theater conservatory as well as the Blue Pegasus Players classes for children with sensory sensitivities. In addition to her new duties as Artistic Director, Schaeffer will continue to lead the Education Department while a search begins for her successor.
When the COVID crisis hit in 2020, Schaeffer immediately responded with a determination to continue to serve every child. By pivoting DCT’s entire Academy program into virtual experiences, Schaeffer made it possible for young theater students to sustain their creative growth by continuing their studies via ZOOM while remaining under the guidance of their original classroom teaching artists.
“I love Dallas Children's Theater,” said Schaeffer, “and I love to create plays and programming for the young people and families of our community. I am so honored to be a part of an organization that highly values our most important citizens – our children.” Schaeffer continued, “What a joy to be able to work with such an amazing and dedicated group of artists and creators. Robyn Flatt has planted so many seeds of love and connection that will continue to grow and thrive for years to come. Thanks to her investment and care, our children and teens are will be able to take advantage of live theater at their DCT home for years to come.”
“There is no doubt in my mind,” said Flatt, “that Nancy Schaeffer, who has developed so many of DCT’s very successful educational programs, and who has tirelessly contributed to our growth and recognition as a national leader in theater for youth, has earned formal elevation to the role of Artistic Director.”
Flatt added, “My personal involvement with DCT will continue as Executive Director/Founder, reporting directly to the Board of Trustees and overseeing the remarkable staff that is so valuable to daily operations and the forward vision of Dallas Children's Theater.”
Schaeffer will assume her new role on December 1.
About Dallas Children’s Theater
Dallas Children’s Theater features professional actors performing for an annual audience of as many as 250,000 young people and their families through mainstage productions, a national-touring company, and an arts-in-education program. As the only major organization in Dallas focusing solely on youth and family theater, DCT builds bridges of understanding between generations and cultures, instilling an early appreciation of literature, art, and the performing arts in tomorrow’s artists and patrons.
COVID-19 has taken its toll on theater and the performing arts around the world, but at DCT the show must go on. Working with new and entirely unexpected circumstances, DCT has pivoted, re-tooled, re-thought and has continued to provide audiences with compelling programming.
About Nancy Schaeffer:
Nancy Schaeffer has directed numerous DCT productions including Schoolhouse Rock Live!; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; Ella Enchanted: The Musical; Magic Tree House’s Holiday Musical: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens; Goosebumps the Musical: Phantom of the Auditorium; Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook; Teen Brain: The Musical; Skippyjon Jones; Rapunzel! Rapunzel! A Very Hairy Fairy Tale; Go, Dog. Go!; Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat; Pinkalicious, The Musical; How I Became a Pirate; dont u luv me?; Madeline’s Christmas; EAT (It’s Not About Food); Goodnight Moon; The Secret Life of Girls; and 12 productions of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Nancy also directed DCT’s highly successful touring production of The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fair(l)y (Stoopid) Tales which toured the U.S. and then traveled to Shanghai, China, playing at the 2006 Shanghai International Children’s Culture and Arts Expo. Nancy has directed for The Dallas Opera and Shared Stories for the Sixth Floor Museum. She has also directed the Christmas Celebration for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. She serves as DCT’s Education Director and Associate Artistic Director.
About Robyn Flatt:
Robyn Flatt co-founded DCT in 1984. Under her artistic leadership, the theater’s creative and operational stature has grown over the past 36 years to reflect its pre-COVID annual budget of more than $4 million. During her tenure as a member of the Dallas Theater Center Resident Company, she served as Assistant Artistic Director, director of Mimeact and Theater-in-the-Parks, and a member of the Graduate faculty for 24 years. She holds a BA and MA Degrees from Baylor University and her directing credits include many major titles in the youth theater canon as well as acclaimed world premiere productions commissioned by DCT. Ms. Flatt has served on the boards of AATE and ASSITEJ/USA and is a recipient of the 2006 Center for Nonprofit Management Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership, The 500, Inc.’s prestigious Ken Bryant Visionary Award, Dallas Historical Society’s 1999 Excellence in Community Service for Creative Arts, the 2002 Leon Rabin Standing Ovation Award, and the YWCA Centennial Award. Ms. Flatt has also been inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theater and served as treasurer of the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America from 2009 - 2014. She received Northwood University’s 2011 Distinguished Women’s Award and was nominated by The Dallas Morning News arts staff for the Texan of the Year Award in both 2010 and 2015. Robyn was honored in 2016 with the Orlin Corey Award for Artistic Excellence from the American Alliance for Theater and Education.