The show must go on: Retired musical theater teacher continues to impart wisdom through new book, special programs 


By Jennifer A. Haire

Retiring after 44 years teaching musical theater to students in Indianapolis is only the beginning for Carmel resident Joyce Click, 68. She continues to teach her craft to youth through various programs in Carmel and beyond and in March, her handbook for educators, “Building a Musical Theatre Program for Kids 7-14,” released on audiobook and in print.

Click produced and directed hundreds of performances during her decades as a high school choir director and elementary music teacher for the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township. In addition, she’s spent 30 years as the children’s music coordinator at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Carmel. Over the years, finding affordable material without a lot of restrictions proved more and more difficult. 

“There weren’t very many age-appropriate shows and they were very expensive,” Click said. There were often licensing limitations, not enough characters or the inability to alter characters to fit the cast.

Fourteen years ago, at a theater festival in Carmel, Click met Denver Casado, a former musical theater camp director and founder of Beat by Beat Press, an online publisher specializing in original contemporary musicals for young performers. Their diverse range of plays consisted of large casts and fewer licensing restrictions. She’s been using their plays for the past 12 years.

When Click decided to retire, Casado saw an opportunity. Recognizing the value of Click’s extensive experience, he suggested she write a book about it. 

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From left, University of Indianapolis music education students Stephen A’vilez, Ellie Jones and Cordale Hankins display copies of Joyce Click’s book, “Building a Musical Theatre Program for Kids 7-14.” Click is an adjunct professor at the University of Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy of Joyce Click)

“Joyce has seen it all in the world of educational theater. So when we had the opportunity to work with her to distill her knowledge into this guide for upcoming educators, we jumped on it,” Casado said. “There’s nothing else like it for those just starting out. It’s like having a mentor with you every step of the way.” 

Click agreed that compiling her knowledge would be a great way to give back to up-and-coming musical theater educators, noting that there is often so much untapped knowledge that retirees can offer. 

“No matter what the career is, they have so much knowledge and experience and wisdom,” Click said. “It’s the idea that maybe you could help a first-year teacher, or volunteers starting a camp, or you could help a young community theater group.”

The writing process came easily for Click, who said she simply wrote what she knew.

“I put together an outline, which was so easy, because I just wrote all the things that we did to get ready for camp, how we taught the camp, how we put a rehearsal schedule, how we even wrote the proposal to begin with to do the camp, if we needed to write grants, how we wrote those grants,” she said. “It just came together.”

The Washington Township Schools Foundation created the Joyce Click Vocal Instruction Fund in her honor to offer scholarships to traditionally underserved students. A portion of her book sales will go to fund the endowment.

Click continues to produce summer musical theater camps for MSDWT and St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. She supervises student teachers at Anderson University and is an adjunct professor for the University of Indianapolis. 

“It’s all with the idea of mentoring new teachers or mentoring future teachers,” Click said. “Everything that I’m doing is with that mission.”

Learn more about the book at

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Joyce Click runs a drama camp in June at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Carmel. (Photo by Ann Marie Shambaugh)

A musical family

Joyce Click has had a lifelong passion for music and theater. 

“When I was growing up, our family was musical. My mother would write musicals for church,” she said. “And then at school, I was in the musicals and I was always with my friends. We were always wanting to write little plays and put on little productions just for fun. So I guess I just grew up with it, and I saw that it was a really good outlet.” 

The 40-year Carmel resident is married and has two children who live in California. She said her family has long been supportive of her work. 

“They think it’s great that I wrote down these things that they’ve had to live with hearing about for all these years,” Click said. “My son bought 10 books because he wanted to support the idea.”