Local theater offers children summer of art

Princess Jasmine, played by Emma Lesniewski, and Aladdin, played by Ethan Turbyfill, share an emotional magic carpet ride over Agrabah in the Knoxville Children's Theatre production of Disney's "Aladdin."

Most high schools require students to have an understanding of Shakespearean literature, however none expect children to be able to preform Shakespeare’s intense tales, well, except for the Knoxville Children’s Theatre who encourage children to not only understand Shakespeare, but to be able to perform it.

That’s right; Knoxville Children’s Theatre has included Shakespeare’s The Tempest in their season this year. Alongside comedic favorites such as Shrek Jr, the theatre balances the season with a dramatic tale in order to provide an extensive educational experience to their students.

Managing director Sien Moon has witnessed first hand the impact Knoxville Children’s Theatre has had on its participants.

“All of these opportunities occur in a creative outlet where imagination thrives, self-esteem develops, and students learn the many life lessons that creative dramatics can teach,” Moon said.

The success of Knoxville Children’s Theatre is immense as former student intern Ashlee Latimer took home the Tony Award for co-producing the best revival of a musical, Once on this Island.

The company was founded by Zack Allen and Jenny Ballard in order to ignite a passion for theatre in Knoxville’s youth.

“The theatre was founded on the premise that theatre had a ‘dying’ audience and most theatre goers were of retirement and above age,” Moon said.

Since the creation of Knoxville Children’s Theatre, the company has grown exponentially. This is due to the company’s focus on providing a quality learning experience, while making sure their students are having a great time.

Parent, Katie Hannah, raves about her experience with Knoxville Children’s Theatre.

“Nowhere has more been expected of my children, no where have they achieved more, and nowhere have they felt more at home,”Hannah said.

The company has surpassed the founders’ wildest dreams as the company continues to grow exponentially.

“From performing in small rented facilities to the first home of in “garage" building to its current location with an academy and auditorium. KCT has outgrown its current location and is currently looking for a new larger home,” Moon said.

The KCT staff is not only working tirelessly to find a suitable place to expand to, but also continues to operate as normal putting on approximately 146 performances a year.

As of now, KCT is currently in rehearsal for their upcoming show, Elf Jr. The show was chosen as a holiday extravaganza for all ages to enjoy.

While the rehearsal period can be straining, students rave about their KCT experience. Twelve year old Kayla June who was once too shy to speak in front of a crowd attributes KCT to helping her conquer her fears.

“After my first play I became very outgoing and was not afraid to speak in front of crowds. Little did I know that my whole entire life would change for the better. I love to act and I love the Knoxville Children's Theater because it allows me to express my feelings,” June said.

With eleven years of theatrical fun down, Knoxville Children’s Theatre Company does not seem like it’s slowing down anytime soon. 

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