The Story of HITS
In 1980, Carolyn Franklin, an experienced actor, director, and teacher, founded a school on the second floor of an office building. She called it "Houston Upstairs Theatre School." Four years later, when the school moved into its own theatre in the Heights, it became known simply as HITS.
Since then, HITS has been helping students achieve life skills through stage skills by addressing the need for a quality performing arts education while providing a nurturing and affirming environment for young people to learn and grow as performers and individuals.
Today, HITS Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with two major goals for children in the arts: education and performance. However, a HITS education involves much more than learning to sing, dance, and act. It helps transform students into disciplined team players, creative thinkers, and confident communicators. While many of our alumni have gone on to careers in the performing arts, many more have used the life skills and confidence they developed at HITS to become successful in other careers, including medicine, law, and business.
At HITS, children in grades 1 through 12 learn about musical theatre and plays by attending after-school and weekend classes held throughout the year and taught by skilled professionals. All classes culminate in public performances at HITS Theatre in the Heights. Each class is organized by grade level and has an enrollment of 20 to 30 students. HITS programs serve over 1,000 students per year, with many of those students receiving partial or full needs-based scholarships.
The highlight of HITS’ year is our free-to-the-public, Broadway-style production at Miller Outdoor Theatre each spring, which attracts 20,000-30,000 people over six performances and features a predominantly student cast. We are proud to exercise our civic responsibility in partnering with the City of Houston to present a quality musical theatre production for Houstonians and visitors alike free-of-charge. HITS’ productions at Miller Outdoor Theatre also provide our talented students with the unique experience of performing for large audiences in a full-scale theatrical production.
At HITS, students receive a performing arts education, which they may not have access to in their schools due to budget cuts or other circumstances. Children who participate in theatre at HITS see their language skills improve dramatically while learning scripts and songs, special-needs students make great progress after interacting in a show, and shy students blossom in this encouraging, nurturing environment.
Time and again, HITS hears from parents how their children's grades have improved since enrolling in our programs. For many students, HITS becomes a creative outlet that motivates them not only to do well on stage, but also to perform well in the classroom. That motivation helps to fuel their confidence and direct their focus. HITS' programs offer an outlet for children beyond their regular classroom to explore and grow through theatre in a positive and affirming environment.