Vision: To be the premier theatre for children and by children in East Tennessee.

Mission: To cultivate a love for theatrical arts in East Tennessee through professional production, advanced instruction, and community outreach.

Knoxville Children’s Theatre, an education-based 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.


 Zack Allen (Executive Director) has a thirty-year history with theatre in east Tennessee.  He is a co-founder of KCT, for which he has written 18 full-length plays, and directed 28 productions.

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 directs 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).

Dennis E. Perkins (Academy Director) has been a director, writer and instructor for KCT since 2011.  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.

Emily Helton (Academy Instructor) is a Junior 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 Fratus (Academy Instructor) 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.

Mandi Lawson (Academy Instructor) is an acting instructor at KCT. She received her Bachelor’s in Theatre in 2005 from the University of Tennessee. She performed in many productions at the Clarence Brown Theatre during her time as an undergraduate. She was a part of several children’s theatre tours with the Bijou Theatre, and also acted in many productions with the Actor’s Co-op. In 2016 she wrote, produced and acted in her first short film, You And Me and Also A Whale. It premiered at the 2016 Knoxville Film Festival. She most recently appeared on stage in Time Stands Still with Encore Theatrical in Morristown, Tn, and The Great American Trailer Park Musical with Flying Anvil Theatre in Knoxville, TN.

Laura Beth Wells (Academy Instructor) 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.