- About KCT
Knoxville Children’s Theatre, an education-based 501(c)(3) non-profit, is a local theatre company producing professional plays for children, by children. KCT is committed to providing children opportunities to acquire and hone skills that enhance creative thinking, public speaking, project management, personal responsibility, leadership, and team work. 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.
-We believe that theatrical arts are for everyone, so we have established a diverse organization where any child can participate in a production at no cost.
-We believe that our community benefits from quality theatre, so we are committed to superior productions and professional instruction.
-We believe that theatre teaches vital life skills, so we provide an environment where children improve public speaking, develop self confidence, practice teamwork, build a strong work ethic, become problem solvers and future leaders.
-We believe that children’s theatre is fun! So we nurture it’s energy and excitement into a lifelong love for the performing arts.
Sien has been involved with KCT since her children first appeared on stage in 2009. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Business, Sien spent ten years climbing the BellSouth corporate ladder, eventually retiring to raise twins Bethany and Wheeler. Sien has volunteered for various community organizations including Bijou Theatre, Knoxville Museum of Art, Dogwood Arts Festival, Ijams Nature Center, Junior Achievement, American Heart Association, Clarence Brown Theatre, and many others. She has chaired many community events and fundraisers including Zoo Knoxville’s Zoofari. Sien has served on the Board of Directors of Junior League of Knoxville, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tennessee Valley, and the University of Tennessee Alumni Association Women’s Council. She is a member of the UT Alliance of Women Philanthropists, Town and Country Garden Club, Junior League of Knoxville, Saint John’s Cathedral, and the Nine O’clock Cotillion. In the rare time she isn’t at KCT, Sien enjoys spending time with her husband David and twins Bethany and Wheeler.
Dennis has been with the company since 2011. Dennis is a director, writer and instructor for KCT. He manages the Academy as well as all the productions for KCT. Dennis’ credits include The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; A Bridge to Terabithia; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; Shrek, Jr; The Giver; and To Kill a Mockingbird among others. In addition to directing many of his own adaptations, he has written and directed two original scripts: Quoth the Raven and Quest for the Grail. In addition, Perkins teaches Scene Study, Audition Technique, and Introduction to Shakespeare acting classes at KCT. In 2013 he had the pleasure of directing a staged reading of Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffman’s play Something That Belongs to You produced by UT’s College Scholars Program. He has directed and performed at the Actor’s Co-op and Black Box Theatre, has twice directed at Hungary’s Csokonai Theatre, and shared a Joseph Jefferson citation for Best Ensemble with the cast of Corpus Christi at Chicago’s Bailiwick Theatre. He is a Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Tennessee’s College Scholars program.
After a thirty-year history with theatre in east Tennessee, Zack co-founded KCT in 2008 with the mission of creating a love of theatre to young audiences. Zack wrote 18 full-length plays for young audiences and directed 38 productions during his ten years with KCT. As a UT student and subsequent 7-year member of the Clarence Brown Theatre Company, he performed in over 30 shows in twelve years. As a company member of the Actor’s Co-Op from 2001-05, he directed and acted in numerous shows at their Black Box Theatre. During that time, he won the Best Supporting Actor award from the Knoxville Area Theatre Coalition for his performance in The Importance of Being Earnest. From 2003-07, he was Executive Director of Rose Center, where he administered Tennessee Arts Commission grants in an eight-county area east of Knoxville, among other duties. Zack also directed for other local theatre companies, including Shakespeare On The Square (Othello, Much Ado About Nothing), Tennessee Stage Company (The Foreigner), and Theatre Knoxville Downtown (Driving Miss Daisy, The Trip To Bountiful, Blood Relations, Picnic, Bell, Book and Candle, Heroes, Absurd Person Singular). Zack has created a love of theatre in thousands of area children and his legacy will live for many years.
JP Schuffman is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist whose joy and privilege for the past twenty years has been to explore stagecraft from the various perspectives of designer, director, playwright, technician, dramaturge, and performer. He is the founding artistic director of the Wild Thyme Players, Nashville Stagecraft, and The Knoxville Theatre Club. He has directed and designed over 50 shows including several world premiers and off off… off Broadway productions. His original works have been staged in Nashville, Dallas, New York, and Knoxville. His dad taught him how to swing a hammer and his mom how to organize his thoughts; both encouraged him to pursue his interest in theatre from a very young age. He started out building sets in middle school and just couldn’t ever bring himself to stop. He loves the theatre because no matter how much you know about it, there’s always something new to learn. He is incredibly proud to be KCT’s Technical Director, and is thrilled to pass on his knowledge of the craft to the next generation of theatre artists.
Emily is a senior in the University of Tennessee’s theatre program. Recent stage credits include The Crucible, A Christmas Carol, Top Girls, and The Great American Trailor Park Musical. When not in rehearsals or emailing professors for deadline extensions, she can be found at Knoxville Children’s Theatre or Beaumont Middle School teaching and playing with Knoxville’s youth. As always, she would like to give special thanks to Malone, Flatt, Ford, Kim, Gope, Carol, Maranda, Mom, Erin, and Casey, for being strong women and true educators who never cease to amaze her.
Michelle earned her Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Tennessee and has worked for the past 10 years in local theater, films, TV reality reenactment series, and commercials. Stage roles include Weyard Sister #1 in Macbeth and Vincentia in The Taming of the Shrew, both with Tennessee Stage Company’s Shakespeare on the Square; Madame Pernelle in Tartuffe and The Wife in The Music Man, both at Clarence Brown Theatre; Vicki Nichols in The Full Monty at Oak Ridge Playhouse; Peggy in Godspell and Mrs. Winthrop in The Secret Garden, both with The Wordplayers. Michelle performed for eight years with Knoxville Opera and U.T. Opera. She musically directed KCT’s Annie, Jr., and assisted with the musical direction of CBT’s A Christmas Carol. She has taught Voice & Diction at KCT since 2010. Michelle also maintains a private vocal teaching studio.
Laura Beth is extremely excited to be teaching at KCT. Laura Beth made her Broadway debut as Emily Osborn in the original company of Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, directed by Julie Taymor and Philip McKinley. A classically trained actor known for her versatility and her quirky, yet human, characters (Julie Taymor once asked her “do all these people just live inside you?”), her acting credits include: Kafka/Waitress in All in the Timing (Hangar Theatre/Matt August, dir.), Gwendolyn Pigeon in The Odd Couple (Ivoryton Playhouse), Madeline True in LaChiusa’s The Wild Party (Columbia Stages/Saheem Ali, dir.), Mrs. Walker in The Who’s Tommy (CRT/Gabriel Barre, dir.), Rizzo in Grease (NCT/Matt Lenz, dir/Michele Lynch, chor.), Brenda/Babe and Mable u/s in The Pajama Game (David Ira Goldstein, dir./Patti Wilcox, chor.), and many others. She has also worked as a Producing Artist with Tennessee Stage Company, and appeared in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and Two Gentlemen of Verona this past summer in Market Square. Laura Beth holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and an MFA in Acting from Kent State University.
Her work as a teaching artist includes a year as a Resident Professional Teaching Artist at Cornell University, where she taught introductory acting classes, mentored students, and performed during the theatre department’s season, most notably as Mindy in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress and as Guildenstern in a student-directed production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, and a year as an adjunct acting professor at Syracuse University and SUNY Binghamton in upstate New York. She has also taught classes and workshops for students of all ages for the Hangar Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Syracuse University, SUNY Binghamton, and Calaveras Repertory Theatre.
A current theatre student at The University of Tennessee Knoxville. She is the current President of All Campus Theatre, an undergraduate theatre club, and a proud performer of “ISP” Involuntary Sports Party ‘Improv Troupe’. Growing up in Middle Tennessee, she spent many of her younger years performing at the Cumberland County Playhouse. Since then she has moved to Knoxville where she has worked with the Clarence Brown Theatre in many facets onstage and off. Over the past few years she has been expanding her experience in youth education with programs including YMCA Camps, and Shakespeare In Shades. She is excited to be joining the Knoxville Children’s Theatre Family!
Casey Maxwell has grown up loving all things Broadway and musical theatre and now works in BOTH arenas of the art form…both as a musician/music director, and onstage as a performer.
Julia Stark is a senior at the University of Tennessee in the College Scholars Program with a Performing Arts Outreach major and a Hispanic Studies minor. Julia has been involved in the Knoxville Children’s Theatre since 2012 and is passionate about theatre education for children. In addition to teaching at the Knoxville Children’s Theatre, Julia has worked with the Great Schools Partnership’s and the Clarence Brown Theatre’s “Shakespeare in Shades” theatre summer program for rising 6th graders at Northwest Middle School. In her free time, Julia enjoys playing her pedal harp, singing, and watching Predators hockey. Julia is honored and excited to serve as an instructor at the Knoxville Children’s Theatre and continue to impart the love of theatre to Knoxville’s youth.
Jennifer is a veteran KCT artist. She began working with the company as a child actress in 2008. Throughout her time at KCT she worked as a props designer, costumer, make-up and hair artist, set designer, choreographer, stage manager, and more. She became KCT’s second directing intern in 2012, making her directorial debut with Sleeping Beauty in 2013. Jennifer’s other directing credits at KCT include Charlotte’s Web and Bambi. Jennifer was trained by Zack Allen, Jenny Ballard, Caroline King, and Dennis Perkins. Jennifer continued perusing her theatre education at the University of Evansville. Jennifer is always humbled to be a part of theatre in whatever small way she can. Her hope is to reveal beauty through broken stories as theatre so often can do. She loves to see children break out of their shell and discover they are capable of so much more than they ever thought possible. Jennifer is endlessly grateful for the mission and work of KCT and is honored to be a part of the team.