Artistic Director Biography

Jerry R. Foust

Jerry R. Foust is our Artistic Director & Director of Education.  He is responsible for ensuring the quality of classes and performances, hiring and training teaching artists, and developing curriculum.  He also directs most of the mainstage productions at Youth Company Chicago/Windy City Music Theatre.

Jerry specializes in working with young musical theatre performers, and  has directed numerous productions, including Oliver! Bye Bye Birdie, The Music Man, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Shop of Horrors, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Beauty & the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, and Annie, to name a few. He served as Executive Director and Director of Education at Berkeley Playhouse, a professional musical theatre company and school, for three seasons, where he helped triple the size of the operating budget, quadruple the subscription base, and merge the education and performance programs with a new, permanent 328-seat theatre home. Under Jerry's leadership, Berkeley Playhouse became the fastest growing professional and educational theatre company in the San Francisco Bay Area.  In his time at Berkeley Playhouse, he served on the leadership & production team for nearly 30 professional and youth shows, and helped build education programs that served over 400 kids per semester in classes, camps and shows. He also directed and/or music directed several of the YouthStage shows in the Berkeley Playhouse Conservatory.

Jerry is a native of Northwest Indiana. He attended the Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Music Education and an Indiana teaching license, Jerry taught high school and elementary music for several years in Indianapolis and the Louisville, Kentucky areas.  In 1996, Jerry founded the acclaimed West Clark Summer Theatre program, a cooperative program for elementary and middle school students in Southern Indiana. As a teacher in the San Diego County Schools, Jerry was awarded the Classroom of the Future Foundation’s “Innovate” award for his work integrating technology into the elementary music curriculum in 2006.  While in California, he completed a Master's degree in Educational Leadership at San Diego State University, and served as Conductor of the San Diego Men's Chorus from 2004-2009.

As a choral conductor and theatre director, Jerry has collaborated with Tony-nominated Sharon McNight, Grammy-nominated Broadway star Frenchie Davis ("RENT","The Voice" and "American Idol"), the San Diego Chorus of the Sweet Adelines, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek, award-winning playwright Del Shores, Emmy winner Sharon Gless, and stage/screen legend Sir Ian McKellan, among others.

In 2011,  Jerry returned home to Chicago to be closer to his family and friends, and to contribute to the exciting arts education community here. Jerry's approach to teaching is ensemble-based - every child feels an important part of the "team" and he is guided by the concept of Challenge & Support. “Meaningful student growth happens when students are given artistic, personal, and academic challenges and provided a proportional amount of support – skills, knowledge, motivation, encouragement – to meet those challenges.” From 2011-2012, he served as executive director of The Actors Gymnasium, a circus and performing arts school in Evanston, before leaving to focus full-time on building Youth Company Chicago.

Jerry is a licensed teacher in Indiana and Illinois, and and is rated "highly qualified" under No Child Left Behind. He is continuing to refine his teaching philosophy and skills by working toward a second master's degree in  Teacher Leadership at University of Illinois-Springfield.