Director Susan Jung recognized by

Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy student casts – past and present

CHCA: By Tammy Rosenfeldt

SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, OH (December 9, 2021) – Fifty shows. That means fifty casts and crews. Fifty sets of costumes. Fifty set builds. Fifty tech weeks. Fifty seasons of memories. Fifty experiences that never equal each other.

Susan Jung has directed 50 shows at CHCA (Provided)

Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy’s recent production of It’s a Wonderful Life on November 19th-21st was not only the perfect story to tell right now, but it also celebrated CHCA’s Artistic Director of Theatre Susan Jung’s 50th show at the school.

After the cast took their bow on Saturday evening, they led the audience to have a seat as a surprise awaited their favorite director. Showing on the big screen was a video compiled of clips from current and past theater students who shared what Susan’s influence has meant to them. 

This was followed by a long line of alumni who came on stage in person to express their gratitude for Susan. The final surprise was a reception held in CHCA’s Miracle Commons, where fellowship, food, and memories were shared by all who could be there.

The following quotes from students give a glimpse into the impact Susan has had on CHCA’s musical theatre program: 

You’re not only making memories inside the show, but you’re also making memories outside of the show. That’s what’s so incredible about you – as alumni, we can take everything you’ve taught us and beyond from the shows that we’ve gotten to do with you.

You have touched so many lives and we are so grateful for all that you do and for how serious you take the craft.

You inspire so many people in so many different ways – thank you for inspiring me.

I’m so thankful for all that you’ve taught me.

Thank you for being an awesome director and making theater so much fun. It’s such a great environment here and rehearsals are often one of the highlights of my day.

One of the many wonderful things about Susan that means so much to me in particular is how inclusive and welcoming she is toward everyone. She always went out of her way to think of ways to include me and I appreciated that more than words can say. You are so loved by so, so many people.

You have been an incredibly influential person in my life. I don’t think I would be where I am today if it weren’t for you – if God hadn’t planted you where He’s planted you.

I execute on others’ visions and the person I’ve loved executing the vision of the most is you.

You have taught us all so much, not only about theater, but life in general.

You have encouraged me to abilities that I didn’t know that I had, and I am forever grateful for that. I was nervous as the new kid, but you made me feel so welcomed and it just immediately became a safe spot for me and I’m so incredibly thankful.

Because of you, we get to become these wonderful adults and performers who you have made us to be.

I have always admired you – your determination, your hard work, your heart and drive and passion for musical theater. I loved the community and that was fostered by you. You facilitated the amazing family dynamics that the CHCA theater department now has and it’s all because of you.

“It was amazing to celebrate Susan’s direction of 50 shows at CHCA with many alumni here on Saturday night or sending a message to her to be shared in a video. Susan is a brilliant and creative theatre director who has blessed hundreds of students involved in theatre and thousands who have come to see the shows. We would love to see 50 more!” – CHCA Fine Arts Director Mona Summers

While reminiscing over the past 20+ years, Susan thought through what 50 shows means to her and shared her thoughts with us.

Do you have a favorite show that you have directed?

  • I can’t possibly choose just one. There have been so many that I loved for different reasons. Godspell (2012) was groundbreaking in using technology to help tell the story. Les Misérables (2019) felt like we created an artistic masterpiece. Little Shop of Horrors was super creative with the pop art concept. Fiddler on the Roof (2017) had the contemporary subway moment. I could go on and on. I’ve celebrated shows for what was created onstage, for the way students grew in their levels of performance, and for the friendships that were created and deepened through the show.

Do you have a personal favorite moment?

  • I have a thousand and one memories that make me cry from the depth of emotion or from belly laughing. I cried every time at “A Little Fall of Rain” in Les Misérables. I got goosebumps at our Young Mary saying “George Bailey, I’ll love you till the day I die.” I laughed every time Kalaya Jones (’19) was in a comedy. I jumped up and down when 82 students finished singing “Red and Yellow and Green and Brown and Blue” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

How did you get started directing theater at CHCA?

  • My whole career has been a series of “why nots?” instead of “of course I cans”. I had only choreographed cheerleading routines when a director asked me to choreograph a musical. I had never done improv when a college professor suggested that I audition for the team. I had never directed a show when my friend asked me to take over for one show. I have just trusted that God knows me best and so when opportunities come up that seem like a good idea, I take them. I love performing, but what I love more is coming up with a creative vision and working hard to get everybody to challenge themselves to believe in their abilities and that vision to create something meaningful.

Anyone directed by Susan knows when she says, “We have a show!”, she means all the hard work has finally come together and they are officially ready to perform for an audience. Thanks to Susan and all that she brings to the CHCA theater department, audiences have been awed by 50 shows and are ready for more.