Flagler Playhouse: Bringing the Performing Arts to Flagler County

DSC 0294 scaled

Flagler Playhouse is a quaint little playhouse located in Bunnell. I had the pleasure of meeting with the President of the Flagler Playhouse today, Jerri Berry, who gave me a quick tour of the whole place, before our interview.

We started off in the main lobby area, where they have concessions, and even an area where a children’s choir practices.

As we went down hallways, towards the main theater, Jerri showed us the wall of photos, which highlighted the shows they have put on from the last year. She also told us about how they have trained and used high school students to run the lighting equipment for all of their shows.

The next show on the books will be a Barnum themed show Jerri said. As we went through the backstage areas, costume rooms, rehearsal rooms, Jerri told me of her plans for expansion and how she and the Playhouse could offer more for the community than just plays. She told us how lucky they are to own the buildings that they have, which makes storage so easy. One of the things that Jerri would love to see happen is in the main rehearsal room of the playhouse, she would love to host an improv night.

Jerri took over as president of the Flagler Playhouse in July of 2020, and she spent a few years on the board prior. Most all of the staff and board of the Playhouse are full time employees, and they are always looking for volunteers.

They host 5 main shows a season, and they are looking to expand into the community. They are always expanding into education, both for adults and kids. They want to give back into the community beyond just providing plays and shows.  One of the ways they are helping give back to the community is with the Penguin Project; which is theater for students with disabilities.  The Penguin Project quickly became the focus of our interview, being that Jerri was so excited about it and I was eager to learn what this project was all about.

The Penguin Project is a national non-profit that was founded by Dr. Morgan in Illinois. He is a pediatrics doctor who also loves theater.  There are roughly 55 to 60 national chapters throughout the country, and last checked there were only 5  chapters in Florida.   This program is a 4 month commitment that allows a child with disabilities to be the star of the show, and each child with disabilities is paired with a mentor, a child with no disabilities, who will help them both on and off the stage.  The first project being worked on is Annie Jr. which will hit the stage on June 9th, 10th and 11th.

The Flagler Playhouse has been so fortunate to get an equal number of both stars and mentors. They have 17 students with disabilities currently as well as 17 or 18 mentor students who are giving their support. The range of disabilities includes everything from ADHD, Autism, Down-syndrome and a myriad of other disabilities.

This is Jerri’s project. She first heard about this project in a virtual theater conference during COVID. It was being marketed as a way to bring in more funds and sales, etc., but Jerri fell in love with the idea. Because of her background in special education, it lit a fire in her. Not only is Jerri so excited to bring this to the community, but we are excited for her. This is a great way to bring kids of all backgrounds, abilities, and knowledge together to learn, support each other and have fun doing it. To add to the wonderful nature of this project, the cost is virtually nothing for the participants. Children wanting to participate as a star or a mentor have minimal costs, making it feasible for many families.

The Flagler Playhouse is always looking for sponsors, volunteers, and support in any way shape and form. If this is something that resonates with you, then check out their website: https://flaglerplayhouse.com

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *