Annie Russell Theatre

The Annie Russell Theatre, considered one of the most beautiful and best-equipped small theatres in the country, was a gift of Mary Curtis Bok Zimbalist (1876-1970) in honor of her longtime friend Annie Russell (1864-1936), an internationally acclaimed actress of the time. At the theatre’s dedication on March 29, 1932, Annie Russell took to the stage after fourteen years of retirement for a special performance as the Queen in Robert Browning’s drama In A Balcony, a production that was directed by herself, and supported by a professional cast.

Annie Russell laying cornerstone in 1932

Annie Russell sketch as displayed in Tomokan in 1934

Designed by Richard Kiehnel of Miami, the theatre was constructed in a Romanesque style and is joined to the Knowles Memorial Chapel by two sets of loggias and a cloister garden. With a capacity of 375, the theatre was equipped with a complete motion-picture sound-recording system, given to Rollins by Harry M. Warner, president of Warner Brothers at the time. Covering an area of 37,252 square feet of space, the Annie Russell Theatre was constructed by G.W. Hessler, Inc., and cost approximately $122,500, of which Zimbalist donated $100,000. She also contributed $13,000 toward the garden between the Theatre and the Chapel. In the fall of 1976, renovations were made to a number of areas, including lighting, seating, carpeting, and painting. A year later, a new box office area and restroom facilities were added, and a section of the building underwent re-roofing. Additional office space was added in 1980, along with a scene shop, which was renovated in 1986. The Annie Russell Theatre has been included in the National Register of Historic Places since 1998.

The original interior of Annie Russell in the 1930s

The current interior

The Rollins Players, established in 1922, offer the College and surrounding communities a season of seven productions each school year.

Annie Russell gargoyles

Annie Russell Theatre in 2000