November 01, 2013 | Matt Kucinski

Dress rehearsal for the cast of "An Ideal Husband"

Some of Julia Kimble’s first steps were taken on stage, under the lights.

“Theatre has always been in my life.”

The senior theatre major grew up in a theatre family. Both of her parents and two of her siblings have been involved in theatre for decades. And, having a sister as stage manager for a high school theatre company provided Kimble with plenty of stage time. She appeared in her first show when she was just two years old.

“Anytime she needed a little kid to act, I was in there,” said Kimble.

Passion for arts and sciences

And Kimble’s love for theatre has not faded, but as she went through high school, her interests expanded to include science and engineering as well. And, when she started looking at colleges, she didn’t want to have to choose between her passions.

“When I asked about studying engineering and theatre (at another school), they said, ‘you might have theatre friends.’”

At Calvin, Kimble said her three-hour conversation with professor David Leugs took on a different tone. “We talked about how engineering and theatre could complement each other.”

Where art and science meet

That’s all she needed to hear. Kimble began at Calvin as an engineering major, but she soon realized her number one passion was theatre.

“I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I didn’t have it,” said Kimble. “I stopped singing to myself, stopped painting, I wasn’t myself without the creative output of theatre.”

But with her other passions still there, Kimble has moved from the spotlight to behind the scenes, where she uses her passion for science and engineering and meshes it together with her creative talents.

Kimble’s an assistant designer for two shows this year: An Ideal Husband this fall and A Midsummer Night’s Dream next Spring. In February, she’s the lead designer for Into the Woods.

An understudy to the pros

In her role, she works alongside professional designers and is responsible for designing certain parts of the set—which she says is just as much science as art.

“An aspect of theatre is problem solving—how can I make that work on this stage, with this group of people, with this budget … and make it worth it for a show to come see,” said Kimble.

On her first show this year, she’s working alongside her adviser David Leugs.

“You don’t get the opportunity to design for a big show at other places,“ said Kimble. “You may get opportunities to design for small student shows, but you have the opportunity to work with professionals here.”

Taking a faithful approach

Leugs says that providing these opportunities to students is important. But, what he says is most important is helping students understand how Christians should do their work in this area of the world.

“We talk about this intentionally here at Calvin,” said Leugs. “I tell students if they want to be a better Christian artist to become a better Christian, work first on your relationship with Jesus Christ and what you produce will grow out of that better relationship with your Creator.”

“We’re trying to get students to understand that theatre is bigger than just entertainment, it can also change minds and hearts. And, by showing mankind in sometimes their worst possible condition, it can point out how badly we are in need of redemption.”

When she graduates next spring, Kimble wants to get her masters in set design in England, a place where theatre is well respected. She then hopes to take all she’s learned and go out and make a difference in the world of theatre.

“I want to help people,” said Kimble. “theatre does that. It makes people laugh, cry, think about the society they’re in and want to change it.”

On the 2013-2014 playbill

An Ideal Husband
By Oscar Wilde
Director: Debra L. Freeberg
Show dates: Nov. 7-9, 14-16

Into the Woods
by Stephen Sondheim
Director: Debra L. Freeberg
Musical direction: Charsie R. Sawyer
(In conjunction with the Calvin music department)
Show dates: Feb. 6-8, 13-15

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
by William Shakespeare
Director: Stephanie L. Sandberg
Original music by David Fuentes
Show dates: Apr. 10-12, 24-26
Note: Apr. 29-30 high school matinees at 10 a.m.

*All shows (unless noted) are at 7:30 p.m. in Calvin College’s Gezon Auditorium. For ticket information, contact 616-526-6282 or visit

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