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Big News for Music Theatre Philly and Nest Center City!

“Dream come true” merger takes center stage for Philly families

the staff of NEST and Music Theatre Philly meeting upon their merger

Music Theatre Philly (MTP) and Nest are preparing for their newly announced merger after nearly 10 years of serving local families as neighboring businesses in a collaboration that MTP founder Mindy Baiada calls a “dream come true.”


As preparations continue, Baiada reminisced about her history with Nest in a recent interview. 


“My daughter was born in 2011 and shortly after, Nest opened their doors,” Baiada recalled. “It was a hub for Philly families and became my community. I learned how to be a mom at Nest, literally and figuratively.”


Their mission states that they opened with a “simple goal; to make life easier and better for parents of young children.” They’ve since grown to become a “premier resource” for families with children ages newborn to 6 years old. The services have included parent classes, a modern indoor playground, a cafe, a kid friendly hair salon, and more. 

young students singing


To this day, the Nest halls display the handprints of the founding members who marked the historical opening. Baiada’s daughter’s hands among those prints. So when founders Baiada and Dann Dunn set out to open MTP in 2013, the nonprofit’s first location choice was an obvious one. 


“When I started MTP I rented space at Nest to offer a triple threat dance class, and a ‘Frozen’ performance class,” Baiada said. “It was an incredibly successful trial which gave me the confidence to move into our own space.”


In the years following, MTP has offered award winning performing arts programming year round for children ranging from 3 to 17. Their production company MTP Presents has put on shows such as” Mean Girls, High School Version”, “Disney’s The Aristocat Kids”, “Boundless The Musical” and more. 


Their production of “Rent, School Edition” is among MTP Executive Director Tim Popp’s favorites. Popp joined the MTP family post pandemic and has spent years nurturing the growth of their performance program. 


“[Rent] really established us as a serious place for kids to do quality theater, and to work with other kids who are passionate about musical theater as well,” Popp said in a recent interview. “It was a big moment for the company.”


Both Popp and Baiada shared their enthusiasm as they envisioned future productions filling the modern Nest space. “This merger allows us to continue building our programs. We also plan to develop new curriculum and offerings for the Nest community,” Baiada said. 


Popp echoed Baiada’s sentiments as he shared the ways in which families will benefit from the merger.


“The programming that families have known and loved at Nest for all these years will remain essentially intact, as will the programming at Music Theater Philly,” Popp said. “It’s more about us sharing resources and living in the same space. Nest is a vital asset to the community, and so is Music Theater Philly. We’re not replacing either of them, we’re bringing them together to make them greater than the sum of their parts.”


Popp also shared that the MTP and Nest teams met recently to further discuss logistics. The camaraderie, teamwork and passion were palpable. With a team filled with such talented people with varying skill sets, the newly combined staff sets the tone for participants and parents alike. 



“Through that shared common interest, they get to form these relationships. They get to build a community where they feel valued, they feel accepted, they feel safe to try new things and make new friendships,” Popp said. “Joining forces with this Nest community gives us a bigger, more diverse network of kids and families. They get to know one another, using performing arts as the sort of vehicle to become citizens who care about one another.”


Since announcing the merger, MTP has received waves of support and excitement from the community. Their June 2024 Summer Camps will begin the next chapter in what Popp hopes to be a long and beautiful journey.


“I’m hoping that this becomes a vital part of the cultural offerings of Philadelphia. That it’s a place where families know that their children are safe, they’re supported, and they’re respected,” Popp shared.


“Our goal is to provide a warm, loving, supportive, inclusive environment where everyone is welcome. Where everyone is celebrated and everyone is safe to explore their creativity and imagination,” Baiada echoed.


MTP and Nest are planning to host an open house to celebrate their merger this fall. 


Read more about Music Theatre Philly, here on Philly Family!


This story for Music Theatre Philly was written by Jen Warner.

At MUSIC THEATRE PHILLY, their goal is to create a professional training ground for young artists by cultivating a creative and encouraging environment.