Wildfish Theatre specializes in teaching musical theatre arts through a production based curriculum. Each semester students learn study and perform a Broadway show that is fully costumed and staged. The Theatre’s mission is to instill in children a sense of leadership, discipline, self-worth and confidence through the challenge of rehearsal and live performance. The semester of weekly class meetings (rehearsals) culminate in a total of 27 performances. Wildfish Theatre filed with Texas Secretary of State as a Domestic Non-Profit Corporation known as “Krysti Wilson Productions,” a subsidiary of Ms. Wilson’s father’s for-profit corporation, “I Fly Corporation.”
Krysti Wilson – History and Background
Ms. Wilson began studying at HITS Theatre when she was just 4 years old, and has continued to pursue musical theatre as a performer, director, and administrator ever since. She studied at Bellaire High School and HSPVA, performed in productions throughout the Houston Metropolitan area including as far afield as Clear Lake (Royal Academy of Fine Arts) and Texas City (College of the Mainland). She holds a BA in Theatre Arts from St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX. Ms. Wilson served as the Artistic Director of HITS Theatre from 2004 – 2008, until electing to resign when the Board installed an Executive Director with supervisory authority over her. That event led her to begin the first steps towards her own theatre company.
Origin and Evolution of the Theatre
Following her resignation from HITS, Ms. Wilson was a freelance teacher and director, most notably at the Jewish Community Center (Summer 2008). The first production (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) involved 9 students, rehearsed in a student’s home, and performed rent-free at the JCC. Subsequent shows from 2008 – 2010 were held at various locations. Rentals were covered through ticket sales. In 2010, the Non-Profit Corporation filing with the State of Texas was made and construction began in the Theatre’s current location (1703, D1 Post Oak Blvd.) Wildfish Theatre’s programming is entirely based upon the HITS model of programming
Initial start-up financing took the form of a loan from Ms. Wilson’s father’s corporation. The theatre’s 110 seat space was acquired and built out as an add-on to her father’s now defunct fly fishing store upstairs from Wildfish. The loan allowed Wildfish to purchase and install lighting and sound equipment.
No business plan or financial projections were made at the time that Wildfish was founded nor at the time that it acquired its space. Hopes that enrollment would increase were definitely high and have been fulfilled: 9 students in 2008, 24 in 2009, 30 in 2010, 65 in 2011, 93 in 2012, 130 in 2013, currently 210. Semester tuitions currently range from $225 for Ladybugs (ages 4-6) to $575 for ages 13-17. Wildfish Theatre currently employs two “full time” employees (Artistic and Associate Artistic Directors), one part time (Business Manager), and 2-5 1099 independent contractors as musical directors, choreographers, etc.
Ms. Wilson wishes that she had taken a year to set up structures and systems, and perhaps a business plan, before getting started, but on the flip side, acknowledges that she might have lost the momentum with which she was able to start. She has always intended Wildfish to be a non-profit, but also having a year to prepare the 501(c)(3) application would have helped. In restructuring the financial situation and in forming a Board of Trustees, she now feels that she has a good cross-section of professionals to continue to advise in moving forward with the non-profit status.
Looking Forward – Goals and Hopes
Wildfish currently plans for no physical growth, i.e. larger space, but they do plan for an expansion of the home school classes. Ms. Wilson is considering the addition of a straight (non-musical) play to the season, perhaps for the Junior High and High School classes first and looks forward to the completion of 501(c)(3) status.