Science Teacher Steps from Backstage to Onstage in Broadway Show

Skylar Schultz, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

While she is a familiar face in the NDA science wing, Mrs. Kim (Simon) Flinchum  shines in a different light onstage in the Birder Players’ production of Chicago.

A musical theater veteran from her high school days, Flinchum says she has been performing “forever.”

“My mom actually put me into dance lessons when I was very young,” she recalled. In high school, the NDA teacher participated on her school’s dance team, as well as their musicals. 

“In college, I was a competitive cheerleader, which was still a dance component,” she said. “I coached cheer and dance all the way up until I came here.” 

Now, Flinchum contributes backstage at Notre Dame, being the head choreographer in the musical program.

Even from her performance days, Kim Flinchum always loved what happened behind the scenes. 

“Yeah, the performing is great, it’s fun,” she said, “but the friendships you make with the people in your cast are different. There’s something special about all the rehearsal time you put in together and all the fun stuff that happens. It’s unique.”

Outside of her time working with the cast, Flinchum also teaches at the Aerial Dance studio.

“I started there as a student, actually, six years ago,” said the science teacher. “As my skills progressed, the owner, the founder, asked me to start training to become one of her instructors, and I agreed. Then when she wanted to expand and build a second location, she actually asked me to buy into the company, and I did. I not only teach and do all that great stuff, but I’m also part owner.”

Her experience in impressive aerial dance helped Flinchum to book her first role with the Birder Players as an aerialist and choreographer in their 2018 production of Pippin

Described by Warren Gerds, critic at large, as “a stylish, physical, cerebral musical that dazzles as it explores life’s meaning in a show-business setting,” the show was, undoubtedly, a success.

One other success was Flinchum’s friendship with the show’s choreographer, Anna Allen.

“In our conversations we said musicals we would love to be in,” she explained.
“So when Chicago came up on their bill to do, their choreographer reached out to me, like I had asked her to.”

As for her role?  “I am Annie, one of the murderesses and then also just an ensemble part,” said Flinchum. “So I’m in a lot of different scenes, just as an extra, if you will.”

“It’s a very different style of dance,” she said.  Chicago is known not only for its provocative story line, but its distinct dances, a hallmark of the show’s original choreographer, Bob Fosse.

“I feel like the choreographer, Anna, did a really great job doing her research and really bringing Fosse’s style to life,” Flinchum praised. “It’s a lot of specific hand gestures, isolated body parts, so if you’re moving just your hips, you’re making sure everything else stays stationary so that people’s attention is drawn just to that one body part. I think she did a really great job bringing that Fosse style to life.”

“For this one in particular, it’s a very risque piece,” she said. “It’s a lot of sarcasm and a lot of things are implied. If you don’t really listen to the words and stuff, you miss the jokes. It’s a funny show; it’s a fun show.”

However, the most fun for Flinchum occurred, once again, behind the scenes.

“My favorite part is exactly as I remembered it, all the behind-the-scenes stuff,” she said. “Just the fun that we have at rehearsals and backstage, just getting to know all these great people on a different level, people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

With its run now completed, Chicago received rave reviews from local critics like Warren Gerds to students lucky enough to see the cast in action.

“It was phenomenal,” said freshman Emily Hoeppenor. “It was really good.”

“The show was absolutely stunning,” said Abby Elfner, a sophomore. “Mrs. Flinchum is so talented and simply doesn’t get enough credit for it. It really was so nice to see such an amazing show come to life right here in Green Bay.”