By Brooke Stiles, marketing and engagement coordinator for Columbus Children’s Theatre
Zac DelMonte is no stranger to the Columbus theater scene. For the last decade, he has been a producer, music director and conductor, voice teacher, and accompanist for theater companies around Central Ohio. In addition to role of Artistic Director with CCT, Zac serves on the Choral Conducting Staff at The Ohio State University, as Assistant Artistic Director of the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus and Director of Illuminati, the CGMC’s sacred vocal ensemble, and as the Vocal Director for Musical Theatre at Wellington. He music directs and conducts School of Rock, opening May 12 at the Lincoln Theatre.
Brooke: Your inaugural season at CCT was a big one – 60th season. How did that affect your vision for CCT and moving forward with choosing titles?
Zac: There are many motivating factors when selecting titles for a season, but celebrating the history of this Central Ohio institution raised the stakes in selecting our 2022-2023 productions. Along with this being the first full season post-COVID lockdowns, this season needed to represent not just the long-standing tradition of excellence from the company’s past, but where CCT is headed and how we see ourselves creating theater for the next 60 years and beyond. We have shown Columbus that in addition to CCT’s educational mission and outreach endeavors, we are also producing professional quality productions on a scale not often seen in the city. As we look to the next year, I am excited to be introducing a couple of brand-new titles, a world premier production and several large-scale musicals — all of which further our goal of producing exceptional art and creating transformational experiences for our artists and patrons.
Brooke: What are you most excited for CCT?
Zac: I’m excited to be bold! We are growing our educational programming, increasing our in-school presence across the state and looking for even more ways to introduce state-of-the-art technology into our teaching spaces, especially through our design and technology classes.
I’ve also learned that our audiences are craving theater that transcends the four walls of a traditional theater setting. Our audiences want to see theater that is diverse and representational that serves not just to entertain, but to make them think. We accept that challenge, and I’m exciting to bring more thrilling, transformational theater experiences to Columbus.
Today, the company is committed to thinking outside the box to create mind-blowing experiences and continue to build on our 60-year legacy. You can expect to see more of the amazing work that CCT is known for and expect us to be bigger and better than ever before.
Brooke: What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Zac: Don’t be afraid to lean into secondary skills. I have been very fortunate to make a living in the arts, but I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t allow myself to lean into the other indirect skills I learned through being involved in music and theater from a young age. Leadership and management skills, problem solving, knowing how to collaborate with other professionals with a variety of backgrounds — all of those transfer to most career paths, and the flexibility has allowed me to pivot when needed, to take on new challenges and to help create the path that I’m on as an arts leader.
Brooke: What’s the best advice you can give?
Zac: “Don’t be tied to the outcome.” My college mentor used that phrase frequently and I’ve seen it in action more times than I can count. It’s important to advocate for yourself as an artist and expect payment to reflect your abilities, but some payouts aren’t monetary. Sometimes, we take on projects that may not come with a big paycheck at first, but we do it because it feels right or because we know it’s the right thing to do. And more times than not, when I’ve taken on projects like that, more doors have been opened because of it.
Brooke: What keeps you in Columbus?
Zac: After graduating from The Ohio State University, I was fortunate enough to find sufficient work as a freelance music director and voice teacher to make a living here in Columbus. Over the last decade, that work has turned into meaningful collaborations and a network of brilliant artists I get to collaborate with, which are definitely driving factors for me in my craft and keep me excited to be living and creating in Columbus.
Brooke: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Zac: Columbus is a city that loves the arts! The scene here is vibrant already and growing rapidly. Whether it’s theater, music, film and cinema, visual art, the city is buzzing with new and exciting projects. There are few cities where the arts are so much a part of the lifeblood of the community and culture, and Columbus is quickly becoming a “must visit” kind of city for arts lovers and practitioners alike.
School of Rock opens on May 12 at 7 p.m. in the Lincoln Theatre. Tickets can be purchased in advance through CAPA here. Learn more about CCT, School of Rock and summer programming at columbuschildrenstheatre.org.
This article is part of a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council as part of the Art Makes Columbus campaign. Explore a calendar of events, public art database and artist stories at columbusmakesart.com. To learn more about GCAC grants visit gcac.org.