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About Youth Education

Skills for Theatre…Skills for Life

KIDSTAGE is uniquely designed to use theater arts to build critical life skills in each participant. In KIDSTAGE classes and rehearsals, our techniques encourage creativity, collaboration, problem solving, concentration, public speaking, and a strong work ethic. While some students are on a path to Broadway, all students are improving their futures and increasing self-confidence through involvement in KIDSTAGE and our Technical Theatre Program (TTP). In addition, Village Theatre is home to robust school programs, such as student matinees, in-school classes, and more.

Village Theatre’s Youth Education and Community Outreach programs serve over 57,000 young people, families, and educators throughout the Puget Sound. Available to all regardless of the ability to pay, the programs provide healthy out-of-school time activities and stimulate learning through the arts in schools.  We provide access to the arts for underserved populations to develop young artists and promote skills for enriched and successful lives.

Are you a former KIDSTAGE kid? We want to hear from you! Fill out the KIDSTAGE alumni form to stay in touch.

KIDSTAGE Leadership

Photo of Kati Nickerson, Director of Youth Education & Community Outreach

Kati Nickerson
Director of Youth Education & Community Outreach

For 21 years, Kati has been the driving force of what is now one of the largest and most in-depth theater arts education programs for youth in the country. Over 1 million people in King and Snohomish County have been impacted by Village Theatre’s youth education program since she took the helm. Over half are young people from 3 to 20. Today the programs serve 26,000 diverse youth each year throughout the region, with dedicated theater facilities in both Issaquah and Everett. Kati leads through her philosophy of “Skills for Theatre …Skills for Life” and her innovative leadership ensures that staff and theater artists are skilled at providing not only exceptional arts education but also 21st Century, and social emotional skills. Kati developed free outreach programs including in-school workshops, sensory friendly performances and theatre in the Wetmore Plaza in Everett. Kati has the second longest tenure on the senior staff of Village and is an active leader in equity, diversity and inclusion efforts for the program and organization. She serves on Everett’s Cultural Commission, and in 2014 received the Everett Mayors Arts Award for her achievements and contributions to theater education.

Photo of Suzie Cameron Bixler, Associate Director of Youth Education

Suzie Cameron Bixler
Associate Director of Youth Education

Suzie enthusiastically joined Village Theatre in 2003, days after leaving high tech corporate life to follow her lifetime passion of working in a theater. She has directed The Little MermaidAidaThe Little Mermaid Jr.Seussical Jr.13High School MusicalThe Secret GardenLes Misérables, and the 2005 Last Exit for KIDSTAGE. In her seventeen-year tenure at KIDSTAGE she has produced over eighty shows for KIDSTAGE including several original musicals. Suzie has been a driving force behind the KIDSTAGE Originals Program and is passionate about youth voice and encouraging future writers, composers, directors, and designers. She spearheaded the youth program quality initiative over the past seven years leading the efforts in incorporating Social Emotional Learning skills into the KIDSTAGE curriculum. She is passionate about developing future leaders both on stage and off and has been an active partner in equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts for the program. Suzie has a B.A. in theatre arts from Western Washington University with concentrations in both directing and acting. Her directing credits include Crimes of the HeartSteel MagnoliasA Shayna MaidelRoyal Gambit, and The Firebugs. She has performed at Intiman, Seattle Children’s Theatre, the late Pioneer Square Theatre, and was in the 1985 Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of Bye, Bye, Birdie.

Photo from the KIDSTAGE production of School of Rock. A young girl stands on stage with an electric base. Her hair is flying as she plays. Students behind her rock out to the sound of her music.

KIDSTAGE production of School of Rock

Facts & Figures


  • 11 Full-scale KIDSTAGE productions annually
  • 250 Students in Institute and Pathway to Institute
  • 1200 Students in KIDSTAGE Summer Camps
  • 460 Students in KIDSTAGE productions
  • 41,945 Total youth who experienced Village Theatre and Youth Education programs including youth audiences.
  • 25,888 Number of students in KIDSTAGE and Pied Piper programs. (This does not include KIDSTAGE or Mainstage youth audiences.)
  • 6,474 Number of students who receive free tickets, financial assistance or free programs.
  • 26% Percentage of students in programs receiving free programs, tickets, or financial assistance.
  • 33% Percentage of KIDSTAGE students receiving free programs or financial assistance
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