April Cochran doesn’t just “act” the part, she’s the real deal.

The Market House Theatre (MHT) is much more like a home away from home for the Cochran family. It is that which feeds the members’ creative spirit while at the same time giving them the opportunity to do what they love. April Cochran, Education Director, gets the enviable opportunity to “play” just about every day. And that’s a word the Market House Theatre types don’t take lightly!

Since 1999, April Cochran has seen hundreds of students gain hands-on experience in the arts. April has worked with chickens and pigs, policemen and princesses, but behind each of those masks on parade are the objects of her affection: the kids.

April has been engaging the youth of Paducah for many years. After moving to Paducah she was appointed as the Executive Director of the Market House Theatre for ten years. In order to work with children on a deeper level she left for two years to be the Youth Minister at Grace Episcopal Church, then later returned as the Education Director for MHT. April explains, “I always wanted to work with children, so I left for a position that would offer that possibility. After two years with Grace Episcopal, I was offered the new Education Director position at the Theatre and have been there for 12 years. It has given me the opportunity to develop Footlights and the Theatre in Schools program.”

Nominated by the MHT Board of Directors for the Distinguished Merit Award without her knowledge, April says, “It was all a big surprise and so amazing. Michael {Aprils’ husband and current Executive Director of MHT} brought me the letter after a rehearsal and after reading it I was surrounded by my favorite people to celebrate with . . . my students.”

This national award is presented as recognition of promoting and maintaining the highest standards for community theatre. April could not attend the annual American Association of Community Theatre Convention, where she would have been publicly recognized, because she was conducting a theatre summer camp. Ironically April was engaged in the very act for which she was being celebrated. And we’re not the only ones who have noticed!
“April has been involved with the Market House Theatre for 28 years,” says her husband and co-conspirator, Michael. “With MHT she developed a nationally recognized program in theatre arts education and productions. Her passion for using theatre to develop educational learning in language arts, science, and social studies and as a tool to expand creative thinking and improve self esteem and communication skills has been recognized nationally by the American Association of Community Theatre with this Distinguished Merit Award.”

April’s vision to see theatre education in the schools came at a time when Arts & Humanities were to be added to the Kentucky state mandated tests, which all students are required to take. To this day, all the schools in which she started a program are still actively involved in the arts. They see the importance of art education in a child’s life and have kept programming in their curricula that will nurture this need.

With over 150 main stage and youth theatre directorial credits, April has been a champion of arts education. Her dedication to the preservation of theatre in the hearts and minds of our community is what lead to this honor. Her efforts have reached beyond McCracken County as she travels throughout the Purchase area with the Theatre in Schools program.

April Cochran isn’t just “acting” the part. She’s the real deal! And Paducah is fortunate to have both Michael and April at the helm of this region’s award-winning community theatre.