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Feature in Bold Life Magazine


For the first time in more than a year, school-aged children will be singing, dancing, and performing live at Flat Rock Playhouse. The Studio 52 Summer Camps program has revived in-person classes after a year of strictly virtual education.

“We’re thrilled to bring in-person training back this summer,” says Playhouse Director of Education Anna Kimmell. “We’ll offer students of all ages theatrical experiences through classes, workshops, and performance opportunities.”

Flat Rock Playhouse, the state theater of North Carolina, sits on eight wooded acres in the village of Flat Rock. Although the 500-seat main theater remains empty until pandemic restrictions are lifted, Studio 52 classes will be taught by Kimmell and other theater professionals on the landscaped grounds.

“We’ll keep the classes small and safe,” Kimmell says. “All COVID precautions will be taken. We’ll gather outside, or [in] large, well-ventilated inside spaces.”

A petite, energetic young woman, Kimmell brings a rich background in theater and theatrical education to Studio 52. With a Bachelor’s degree in musical theater from Elon University, she honed her acting chops in regional productions from Alaska to Rhode Island. And she was part of The Wizard of Oz national tour.

Somewhere among the stage lights and curtain calls, she realized her true passion was education. “I want to share the joy of theater with younger generations.”

Kimmell became director of education at Virginia’s Mill Mountain Theatre and, later, Arkansas Repertory Theatre. She also led a series of theater workshops for elementary students in Los Andes, Chile. Last August, the Playhouse hired her to develop online classes and build momentum for a post-pandemic future. “We’ve taught more than 300 students from 15 different states through our virtual theater classes,” Kimmell says with pride.

Virtual classes will continue to be offered, but starting June 21, Studio 52’s in-person classes are back, teaching acting, musical theater, and improv.

Kimmell says Flat Rock Playhouse has held a special place in her heart since 2007, when she was a student intern there.

“That internship catapulted my career in the arts. Although I’d been in the performing arts my whole life, I’d never been involved with every aspect of a professional theater. Here I got experience in the marketing. I worked with the costumes and props. I helped with set building and I was cast in a play. That summer was a huge confidence boost for me.”

Confidence is one of the characteristics she hopes to develop in this year’s students.

“Theater skills are life skills,” she insists. “Theater teaches you to use your imagination, to listen, to collaborate. Theater is an empathy gym as you learn to step into another character, another world. And creating together with others, being responsible for your part, no matter how small, builds an excellent work ethic. You realize you are part of something bigger than yourself.”

Flat Rock Playhouse’s Studio 52 Summer Camps are held in person and virtually for rising 1st through rising 12th graders. Programs run June 21 through July 30. For more information, call 828-692-0731 or see

June 1, 2021

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