Natalie McKnight Palmer: Founder, Director, Teacher, The Big Chief

“I always knew that my path would lead me to teaching the performing arts. I have traveled all over the country and lived the life of a true performer. Now, I am bringing that knowledge back to Brevard County. The key to success is to never stop learning.”

Natalie’s extensive theatrical experience and gift for educating children in the arts is what has made her a leading instructor on the east coast.

Her talents were discovered at a young age as she caught the stage bug performing in Brevard’s own Cocoa Village Playhouse productions. She was exposed to all areas of the arts – voice, piano, and dance – which led her to receive a theatre scholarship to train for a Bachelor of Arts at Palm Beach Atlantic University. During that time, she performed in honored roles such as Julie (CAROUSEL), Rosemary (HOW TO SUCEED…), and Rusty (FOOTLOOSE) in which she received a KCACTF nomination for Acting.

Upon receiving the Award of Excellence in Theatre from those in her graduating class, Natalie took her talents to the classroom to teach theatre and dance for McNair Middle School in Rockledge. While there, she launched the performing arts program. Natalie grew a thriving curriculum where students performed regularly in musicals and concerts. Natalie’s students have gone on to prestigious schools such as Florida State University, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of the Arts to name a few.

She left the classroom and traveled up the coast to pursue performance endeavors in New York City. Her time and talent in the city led to numerous opportunities, from performing in the national tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR with the infamous Ted Neeley, to workshops with the Public Theater, to readings with Linda Eder, and assisting with the production of the Vegas tour of the ever popular JERSEY BOYS. Other notable performance roles included Georgie (THE FULL MONTY), Julia (THE WEDDING SINGER), Maureen (RENT), and Ronette (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS).

Natalie relocated to New Hampshire upon accepting a position as the Youth Administrator and Company Manager for The Palace Theatre. She has been vital to the success of The Palace Theatre’s now extensive training program for young performers. She was also instrumental in mounting the world premiere productions of The Four Piano Men and Royalty of Rock and Pop, which received remarkable acclaim.

Now, having been awarded the Gary Cunningham Award in Florida, Natalie is at last able to bring a bit of Broadway back to Brevard! She is thrilled to finally join her passion for the arts with her love for the community in Rockledge. Her deep desire is to cultivate confidence by guiding students in their artistic ability and preparing them for opportunities to experience their dreams.