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We are Acting Against Cancer.

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, we are a nonprofit theatre company that strives to produce excellent and affordable musical theatre programming and education in Louisville while working to change the lives of children touched by cancer through the arts. By staging theatrical productions, we raise awareness as well as funds in support of our commitment to helping children touched by cancer. We offer completely free drama programs to children either undergoing cancer treatment or working through a loved one’s cancer diagnosis. Our mainstage shows allow us to continue operating these programs, and also see community outreach to bridge who we help with what we do.

Our Story

Jaclyn and Whitten Montgomery founded Kids Acting Against Cancer in 1999 in honor of their mother, Sandy Montgomery, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1996.

Moved by their mother’s diagnosis, the girls wanted so badly to help that they transformed one of their most beloved hobbies, theatre, into an entity that could fight cancer. After getting their footing, the sisters soon learned more about this ubiquitous disease and the prevalence of it even in children. Thus, the organization Kids Acting Against Cancer that targeted specifically pediatric cancer was born. The realization of the Montgomery girls’ dream began in the basement of their Indian Hills home with a ragtag production of Annie and a cast of fifteen children aged seven to twelve. This Annie performance, which would be the first of five stretching through 2004, raised a humble $200, all of which was donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

From 2001 to 2004, Kids Acting Against Cancer produced four productions of Annie at various locations around Louisville.

During these productions, they incorporated silent auctions into the events as more robust ways of fundraising. The four productions of Annie together, along with other fundraising efforts, raised over $85,000. In 2005, the sisters switched the show from the standard Annie to the equally renowned musical Grease, which would be performed twice: once in 2005 and again in 2006. With these shows also came the introduction of the Kids Acting Against Cancer Producers’ Reception. This event would precede the performance and feature drinks and hors d’oeuvres in addition to the silent auction. Consequently, Kids Acting Against Cancer began embracing its one-night-only fundraising model, which would continue developing in the subsequent years.

In 2005, the organization branched out in two new philanthropic directions.

As a form of outreach in 2005, KAAC volunteers began distributing KAACpacks (backpacks filled with fun goodies) to children undergoing cancer treatment at Norton Children’s Hospital. Additionally in 2005, Kids Acting Against Cancer reached out to the national organization of Gilda’s Club, which had been planning to open a branch in Louisville, and officially pledged to sponsor the Game Room at Gilda’s Club Louisville with a $100,000 donation. The first major step toward this goal was the 2007 production of the United States premiere of A Little Princess – the first show to be produced in The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts by Kids Acting Against Cancer. Following that show, Jennifer Cobb, recipient of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year Award, chose Kids Acting Against Cancer as her beneficiary and donated $30,000 to the nonprofit.

The organization proceeded with its one-night-only formula for the next several years.

Kids Acting Against Cancer continued to perform various musicals as fundraising events – wherein the focus was on fundraising, not necessarily on the quality of theatre itself – from 2007 through 2012, including Into the Woods, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, High School Musical and Cinderella. Cinderella, which was performed in the Bomhard Theatre of The Kentucky Center for the Arts, received significant media attention and yielded sufficient funds in ticket sales and donations to pay off the $100,000 pledge to Gilda’s Club Louisville.

The next show, however, saw a major change for the organization.

In October 2012, after watching a production of Dracula at Actors Theatre Louisville, Whitten Montgomery and Remy Sisk, who had grown from just an actor and volunteer into a leader in the company, began to toy with the idea of performing a straight play instead of the usual expensive musical. Thus, in January of 2013, Kids Acting Against Cancer chose to stage the murder mystery And Then There Were None in the more intimate MeX Theater of The Kentucky Center. And as the show was cheaper to produce, there was room to run the show over multiple nights as opposed to the standard one-night-only. Many were trepidatious of the organization’s change; however, fears were assuaged as the show was a success with the group’s following and marked KAAC’s first sold-out show. With lower expenses than ever, And Then There Were None proved to be the most successful show to date in quality and in fundraising, leading the team to begin focusing just as equally on artistic integrity as on fundraising.

Kids Acting Against Cancer continued to produce straight plays through 2013 before performing another musical.

KAAC continued to develop its emerging new brand while producing small-scale straight shows for the rest of 2013. With renewed confidence, the organization returned to its musical roots in January 2014 with the regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening. The show brought the organization more public attention than ever, which resulted in a sold-out six show run. Reception and profits were both overwhelmingly positive, which prompted the group to perform another edgy musical, RENT, in June 2014. The show was similarly successful and was performed experimentally in the gritty venue of The Tim Faulkner Gallery. Working with Charlie Meredith, who had become more involved in organization leadership during pre-production for Spring Awakening, KAAC embraced its burgeoning identity as a theatre company that focuses on modern, pop/rock-oriented musicals and planned its first official season.

Kids Acting Against Cancer continued to produce straight plays through 2013 before performing another musical.

KAAC continued to develop its emerging new brand while producing small-scale straight shows for the rest of 2013. With renewed confidence, the organization returned to its musical roots in January 2014 with the regional premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening. The show brought the organization more public attention than ever, which resulted in a sold-out six show run. Reception and profits were both overwhelmingly positive, which prompted the group to perform another edgy musical, RENT, in June 2014. The show was similarly successful and was performed experimentally in the gritty venue of The Tim Faulkner Gallery. Working with Charlie Meredith, who had become more involved in organization leadership during pre-production for Spring Awakening, KAAC embraced its burgeoning identity as a theatre company that focuses on modern, pop/rock-oriented musicals and planned its first official season.

To kick off the rebrand in sincerity, the organization relaunched in 2014 as Acting Against Cancer.

Together, Whitten, Remy and Charlie worked with a local designer to develop a new logo and name – in the end, the simplest seemed to make the most sense: they weren’t “Kids anymore, but they were still “Acting Against Cancer.” With a new brand, Acting Against Cancer dove into its season of The Rocky Horror Show, Next to Normal and The Real Inspector Hound while working more closely with Norton Children’s Hospital and its expressive art therapy program in particular. Rocky Horror would in fact prove to be the first in a string of yearly Halloween-time productions of the show by the company, now an annual tradition in partnership with PLAY Louisville. 

By 2016, Acting Against Cancer had grown into the company it is today.

Following the 2014-15 season, as well as the 2015-16 season of The Addams Family, American Idiot and The Last Five Years, Acting Against Cancer began to focus more on its children’s programming, which grew out of a 2015 summer camp at Louisville Collegiate School. AAC now operates as a full-fledged theatre company that produces mainstage shows in order to raise awareness as well as funds for the company and its children’s programming, which takes the form of both after-school programs and summer camps. Children who have been touched by cancer – either they’re sick or have a loved one who is sick – undergo AAC programs free of charge and are encouraged to explore the arts as creative outlets for healing. Heading into the 2017-18 season, AAC also looks forward to sturdier partnerships with local nonprofits to bring the arts into the lives of children affected in some way by cancer and spread the positive outcomes that the arts, particularly theatre, can yield.

Getting Involved

We are always looking for volunteers! We take pride in producing excellent theatre for a meaningful cause, and we can’t do it without your help. If you want to act, take tickets, run lights, enroll your child in children’s programming or get involved in any other way, we’d love to have you! Keep an eye on our website and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with auditions and events, or click on one of the sections below to learn more about getting involved with our shows.

Auditions

Acting Against Cancer holds season auditions in the late summer of every calendar year. Some shows may require specific show-by-show auditions, so stay on our Facebook page or sign up for our email list to stay totally informed. If you’re new to town or missed auditions, feel free to send us an email expressing your interest and we’ll talk more!

Tech Crew

Wanna get in on the action behind the scenes? We’re always looking for folks to join our crew! Send us an email and let us know we should talk!

Theatre Professionals

Are you a seasoned theatre professional interested in working with us? We would certainly love to talk to you! Email us and we’ll go from there!

Kid's Programs

Head on over to our Kids page to learn more about how to enroll your child, or shoot us an email with any questions!