This is the door that takes you into the auditorium of the Knoxville Children’s Theatre.  It is the door of opportunity.  It represents something bigger than just one person or one experience.  It means different things to different people.  For a young person who is going to their very first show, it may represent a feeling of inspiration and intrigue.  For a young person who is starring in their first show, it may bring a sense of accomplishment and anticipation.   No matter what this door represents for you, behind it, the same person has always been there smiling and welcoming everyone with open arms. That person is Zack Allen.  Zack has been the Producing Director of the Knoxville Children’s Theatre since its inception in 2007.  He is the co-founder.  Zack Allen passed away yesterday, and I am devastated.

My daughter told me the news last night after her rehearsal.  The leadership team brought the kids together and gave them the news.  Many are devastated, and many will need to continue to process this in the coming days.  My heart goes out to the entire team at KCT as they move forward without Zack.  Dennis, Sien, and many others have dedicated their lives to giving our youth an outlet for their creative abilities.  This door will continue to represent those same things.  There will still be a smiling face on the other side.  The show must go on, and Zack would want nothing less.

I did not have the pleasure of knowing Zack for very long.  I do know people who knew and adored him.  He was a giver.  He gave of his time, and he gave of his talents.  He was a talented and gifted actor, producer and director.  He had been part of the East Tennessee theatre scene for over 30 years.  He opened doors for so many, and his legacy will live on forever.  Recently we had the great pleasure of doing a show about KCT for an episode of The Housing Hour.  We had Sien Moon, the Managing Director, Ashlee Latimer, the Tony Award-winning Producer who credits her success to KCT, Bethany Moon and my daughter Olivia.  Ashlee was very vocal about how Zack impacted her life.  “Zack has shaped my life ever since I was 16…I would not be where I am had he not turned over opportunities to me and trusted me, even when I wasn’t sure If I was ready, he believed that I could be.”

It breaks my heart that Zack will no longer be that smiling face behind that door.  However, Zack will always be behind that door.  He helped build that door with the help of some incredibly selfless people.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Allen.  Thank you for all that you did.

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