Making Magic at the Bluffton Youth Theatre

This local theater company inspires children to be their best — both on and off the stage.

“Winds in the east, there’s a mist coming in, like something is brewing, about to begin.” —Bert/Mr. Dawes, Sr., “Mary Poppins”

Cyndy and Greg

When Cyndy Ford’s father became seriously ill with Parkinson’s, she left her family and performing arts school behind in New York and headed to the Lowcountry to care for him for a “few weeks.” A year later, the school was closed, everything except her piano and a few other instruments  were in storage, and her husband Greg and youngest daughter Jennifer joined Cyndy in Bluffton.

Miraculously, her father managed to live another two years, and now Cyndy is a full-time caregiver for her mother, as well as her sister with special needs, in addition to running the nonprofit Bluffton Youth Theatre, serving as the Children’s Director at church, tutoring children with special needs and actively supporting the Special Olympics.

A 40-year theater veteran who once worked at Main Street Youth Theatre on Hilton Head Island, Cyndy soon realized there was nothing similar in Bluffton and rushed to fill the void.

“I basically did rehearsals in my home because it was kind of difficult to find places to rehearse,” she recalled. “I have written several musicals, so I decided to just use one of those, which was ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ It was very successful. We had about 15 kids try out for that.”

Te cast of “Beauty and The Beast”

That show was followed by “Pilgrim’s Pride,” another musical written by Cyndy, then “Annie,” “Beauty and the Beast” and a one-night Mystery Dinner Theater held at Sigler’s Rotisserie & Seafood this past January. On March 15-17, nearly 40 kids will perform in the Bluffton Youth Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins, Jr.” at Main Street Youth Theatre.

“I want to have an all-youth theater here in Bluffton,” said Cyndy. “I believe it’s something that’s needed. I’m primarily an education center—I want to teach youth up to age 18 all aspects of the theater. They do everything. I’m teaching them about the lighting, the sound and acting.”

Cyndy is dedicated to ensuring that children of all ages and abilities enjoy access to theatrical productions in Bluffton.

“We use all youth,” she continued. “We are also all-inclusive, meaning that we have kids with special needs who are incorporated into our shows. Every kid that auditions, we give a part to. We don’t turn away any kids.”

To challenge each child and provide growth opportunities, shows usually have two casts that alternate during performances. If a kid is cast in a leading role in the first cast, he or she may serve in the ensemble in the second.

“These kids have to learn two parts, which is huge training for them. It challenges them a lot,” Cyndy noted. “I’ve been doing this for years, and I know kids can do a lot. And if you’re a lead in our play, you’re a leader. You encourage the other kids.”

While directing dozens of children ages 5 to 18 can be demanding, the biggest challenge facing the Bluffton Youth Theatre is the lack of affordable places to rehearse and to stage performances.

Rehearsals currently take place on Fridays and Saturdays at Kids College preschool on Goethe Road, and the group has staged past shows in a variety of venues, from Hilton Head Island to Sun City. The theater is working closely with Freedom Life Church to secure a building in Bluffton, and perhaps someday to have their own permanent stage. The group’s summer camp production will take place the week of August 6 at Main Street Theatre, but the location for the winter musical “Elf” is still undetermined.

“We’re hoping to buy our own building and make a state-of-the-art theater here in Bluffton,” Cyndy noted. “Obviously, we need sponsors and donors to help us in this endeavor because one show may cost us $10,000. We’re looking to expand, but our major push is to get some kind of building here in Bluffton. We’re really trying to get the youth involved and have a total youth theater in all aspects.”

In the meantime, Cyndy and the dedicated board members at Bluffton Youth Theatre stay true to the mission of “inspiring children to be their best—both on and off the stage.”

“I can teach any kid!” declared Cyndy. “I’m a teacher by trade. I have my master’s degree and I can teach any kid, as long as they want to learn and they are willing to learn. That’s my goal.”

For more information about the Bluffton Youth Theatre, call (843) 422-9660 or visit

March is National Youth Arts Month, and there are plenty of opportunities for local kids to experience the visual and performing arts.


  • March 2-11
  • Main Street Theatre, 3000 Main St.
  • Main Street Youth Theatre presents the famous fairytale, refashioned and set to music by masters Rodgers and Hammerstein.
  • (843) 689-6246 or

Youth ArtsFest

  • March 3, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, 14 Shelter Cove Ln.
  • Crafts, performing arts workshops, food, art exhibitions, performances, crafts and more. Free admission; fees for activities.
  • (843) 842-2787 or

5th Annual ISCA Rising Stars

  • March 3, 2-4:30 p.m.
  • Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, 14 Shelter Cove Ln.
  • The 5th annual youth performing arts talent competition and showcase hosted by the Island School Council for the Arts.
  • (843) 842-2787 or 

Society of Bluffton Artists (SoBA) Judged Show

  • March 6-April 1
  • SoBA Gallery, 6 Church St.
  • The 24th annual SoBA Judged Show is open to all artists residing in the Lowcountry.
  • (843) 757-6586 or

Bravo Piano! A Festival from Bach to Brubeck

  • March 8-12
  • Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, All Saints Episcopal Church and
  • The Jazz Corner
  • A variety of performances
  • by previous prize winners of the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, as well as renowned artists from both classical and jazz genres, educational lectures and more, hosted by the HHIPC.
  • (843) 842-5880 or

Music on Malphrus: Harpeth Rising

  • March 10, 7 p.m.
  • Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry, 110 Malphrus Rd.
  • Three conservatory-trained musicians playing original music, as intricately arranged as a string quartet, lyrically rooted in the singer/songwriter tradition and wrapped in three-part vocal harmonies reminiscent of both Appalachia and Medieval Europe. General admission is $20.
  • (843) 837-3330 or

Mary Poppins, Jr.

  • March 15-17
  • Main Street Theatre, 3000 Main St.
  • Bluffton Youth Theatre brings Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Practically Perfect” musical to Hilton Head Island.
  • (843) 422-9660 or