Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati

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Each year, thousands of children and teens from under-resourced schools attend our student matinees for free.

The magic of theatre.

Each season, our Fairy Godmother Program brings thousands of children and teens, whose schools have little or no arts funding, to experience the magic of live theatre for free. For many, this is often their first time attending a theatre for a live performance. The program also includes bus transportation, snacks at intermission, meeting the cast, and take-home enrichment activities.

Most performances coincide with our holiday musical in mid-November and early-December and primarily serve elementary students. These shows are fresh, modern spins on classic fairy tales and are infused with contemporary cultural references to be engaging and accessible for young audiences.

We do, however, also offer Fairy Godmother shows to qualifying schools for other productions in our season that align with middle and high school curriculum.

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During the 2019-2020 Season, the Fairy Godmother Program had:

    • 24 school partners
    • 11 shows, including 3 sensory-friendly
    • 2,000 students invited

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Three women, two white and one Black, are dressed in gowns, fairy hats, and wands.

Program history

“Hello, Ginny!”

Before the lights go down, each Fairy Godmother performance begins the same: with this enthusiastic greeting from nearly 200 young students saying hello to Ginny Hoffman, Ensemble’s very first Fairy Godmother.

The Fairy Godmother Program was founded in the memory and celebration of Ginny, an actress and theatre educator who shined on our stage from 1987 until her death in 1993. Like the fairy godmothers she portrayed in many of our early holiday productions, Ginny had a special place in her heart for sharing the magic of theatre with kids.

Nearly 30 years later, more than 2,000 students from the Greater Cincinnati region have attended our holiday shows for free, an incredible tribute to Ginny’s enduring light.

Qualifying criteria

We recognize that many schools and organizations struggle to find funding to provide arts opportunities to their students and carefully consider all requests for our Fairy Godmother Program. With a limited number of shows available, we prioritize ticket requests from schools and organizations with the greatest need:


    • Schools with greater than 90% of their overall student body eligible for federal free- or reduced-lunch programs are automatically qualified for free programming.


    • Schools with less than 90% of their student body eligible for federal free- or reduced-lunches may qualify for subsidized programming on a sliding fee scale.

How to apply

Please check back soon for 2022–2023 Season information and dates

If you have questions about the application or program, email Victoria Aslanides, Director of Education.

Ticket request form

Please check back soon for information about how to request tickets for our 2022-2023 Season.

Although requests are accepted starting in August, we may not be able to confirm until fall. If this is an issue, please let us know and we can adjust.

Shows fill quickly and are distributed based on financial need, past relationship, and request submission date. Waiting lists are available for sold-out performances or if more dates are added.

Number of tickets

We can accommodate up to 180 attendees per performance and may be able to split your school or organization into multiple dates depending on the size of your group and ticket availability.

Show dates

Holiday production
Most Fairy Godmother performances coincide with our holiday production in mid-November and early December. Please check back soon for 2022-2023 dates and information.

Other productions
We also schedule Fairy Godmother shows for middle and high school students during the season. Age ratings and descriptions of our productions are listed on individual show pages.

Email Victoria Aslanides, Director of Education, to discuss appropriate shows for your school group and the curriculum support we can provide.


Bus information

For schools and groups participating in Fairy Godmother matinees, Ensemble Theatre may be able to underwrite or help offset the cost of buses. However, this requires a minimum of four weeks’ notice.

The online ticket request will ask if your school or group will need financial assistance with buses. Should this change after submitting the request form, please notify our staff as soon as possible so that we can try to adjust.

Prior to the show, our staff will provide bus instructions for load-in and load-out of students.

Sensory-friendly performances

As part of the Fairy Godmother Program, in addition to our school matinees, we also offer several sensory-friendly performances of our holiday musical and other select productions throughout the season. These performances are for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, and other sensory sensitivities to light and sound along with their families.

This is the same professional production staged during the rest of a show’s run, but includes accommodations made for all to enjoy the show. Support materials are also provided to prepare attendees with what to expect during their theatre trip.

Visit our sensory-friendly page for more information, including how to apply:


Learn more

Study guides

Our Education Department creates customized study and educator guides to accompany our student matinees productions for in-class use. Each guide includes show information, a synopsis, educational materials that align with Common Core Standards, and integrated classroom activities to unpack the show after the performance.

Study guides for Fairy Godmother performances will be posted on this page as they become available. We try to have these posted no later than 2 weeks before the performance. If a guide is not yet posted, please check back or email us with any questions.

A Black woman wearing a crown and purple and gold royal garb looks excited with her hands in fists close to her chest.

Fairy Godmother Sponsors

Betty Huck
Mr. & Mrs. David E. Moccia

P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
The Dennis B. & Patricia L. Worthen Fund

Photo credits | Program history, Claire Slemmer, Ginny Hoffman, & Ophelia Kelly Azariah in The Sleeping Beauty (Sandy Underwood); Qualifying criteria, the cast of The Dancing Princesses greets children in lobby (Mikki Schaffner); Study guides, Burgess Byrd in The Frog Princess (Ryan Kurtz); Educator resources, Dale Hodges, R. Graham Rogers & Esther Cunningham in Sex and Education (Ryan Kurtz).