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Meet Krysti Dailey of Wildfish Theatre in Galleria

Today we’d like to introduce you to Krysti Dailey.

Krysti, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
We started in 2008 in a living room in Memorial during hurricane Ike. There were 9 students in our first show. We rehearsed in living rooms and dance studios until we finally got a space in October of 2010. We moved into our space on Post Oak on the day of the show! At this point we had 2 classes and a total of 30 students. The next semester we had about 65 students and the following semester over 90. Now we are going into our Fall 2017 with what I believe will be 310-325 students.

We have never advertised and we rely exclusively on word of mouth. Our program put a lot of time, money and effort into the performances, and I think the parents and kids really appreciate it and return to the program for it!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Oh goodness! We got our permit to occupy the space 1 hour before the first show opened! The weekend before the show there was a huge plumbing leak. AND, since we are in a basement space, we have flooded a bit twice. Luckily, we have concrete floors and a ton of families with wet vacuums!

We have received great support from the parents of Wildfish. It has helped the bumpy roads seem smoother!

I have also had two kids over the past 5 years, and that was certainly challenging. I am the director of the organization, and I also teach most of the classes. My daughter June came back to work with me when she was just two weeks old. Luckily there were some moms that were more than willing to hold a cute baby for a while.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Wildfish Theatre story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a children’s musical theater program that specializes in production based curriculum, meaning we mount, produce and perform shows. We are really known for our attention to detail and making sure that each student is an integral part of the show. Our musical numbers are staged very intricately, even for our youngest performers. We find that kids actually work much harder, and give more effort and energy when they have challenging material to work with. Children are much quicker than most adults give them credit for.

We strive to teach focus, leadership, and the importance of giving 100% effort and energy. I say it all the time to the students, that effort and energy is more exciting to watch on stage than natural talent with little expression. Once the students learn what it feels like to give all that energy and be fully present onstage, they achieve a kind of confidence and autonomy that they can take with them anywhere. Looking people in the eye and speaking with clarity and expression can be very marketable. It doesn’t matter what career you go into!

I have seen some amazing transformations in some of my students over the years. We aren’t saving lives at Wildfish, but I do believe we are creating future leaders! Theater is a special kind of team effort where everyone onstage is equally important to telling the story, and at the end of the “game” or “show” everyone wins and can go home proud of what they accomplished.

We also have opportunities every semester to give back to the community. As I mentioned creating leadership, we want to instill a desire and a need to participate in philanthropy and showing kindness and compassion to the people around us.

Sometimes the students give back by using their voices, singing at retirement homes, the zoo, Discovery Green or anywhere our presence is wanted. Sometimes we give back with donating time and energy to a cause by delivering back packs to homeless, delivering lunches with KidMeals, our annual Christmas gift card giveaway (we raised almost $4000 in gift cards that we passed around Houston) and even using all our fall semester concession money for our housekeeper to take her kids to Disney World. I personally feel that it important for our students to look beyond their small world to see things they might miss, people that might be right around the corner. Theater can be great for teaching compassion and understanding, so this aspect of giving back, I hope, enhances that.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
One of my coworkers jokes that I am a really lucky person! I have to say, for the most part, things have really fell into place.

I should have mentioned earlier that we got the space because my father, who has supported my love of theater since I was 3, got us a terrific deal on our Post Oak location in the Galleria.

He was moving a fishing store he owned at the time into the space right above us, and he talked the building owner into helping us build out the space and give us a pretty sweet deal on the rent. We are in a basement, which definitely has its challenges (the flooding I mentioned earlier), but our central location I attribute the growth in the student population. It is a convenient area for a lot of families!

The luck of a central spot with great rent outweighs the flooding and the plumbing issues for sure.

I have also been lucky to get the right people on my staff! We have an amazing artistic team from the director/ choreographers including Shay Rodgers, who is a nationally recognized children’s choreographer, to our skillful musical director Josh Green who plays half of the music from memory (you can watch him listening to the kids, and they almost never SOUND like they mess us because of him), and our super savvy technical director/set designer Torsten Louis and costume designer Julie Leavell. We hit the jackpot with staffing for sure.


  • Classes range from $250 to $600 depending on the age and the total number of hours of the class
  • Tickets range from free to $10

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Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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