The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
Trish Clark, former drama teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and former artistic director of the Lexington Shakespeare Festival, has been named as the interim artistic and executive director of Woodford Theatre.
Clark steps in for Steve Arnold, who left the theater in October after just over a year in the post. He had succeeded longtime director Beth Kirchner, who made the Versailles theater one of the region’s premier community theaters during her 16-year tenure.
Clark, 59, said the opportunity came along at a good time after her position with the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s educational outreach programs was eliminated in a widespread round of layoffs earlier this year. She says she has not decided whether she will apply for the permanent director job at Woodford.
“They needed some immediate care, and that’s what I can do,” Clark said, taking a break from watching rehearsals of The Christmas Foundling, which opens Friday and runs three weekends. “Being around so long, I knew I could get people together, and they’ve been really good about stepping up.”
In two weeks, Clark has retained directors for the three remaining shows on the season after The Christmas Foundling, including bringing Kirchner back to direct Driving Miss Daisy, Feb. 1 to 17. She changed the April production of Neil Simon’s God’s Favorite to Simon’s The Odd Couple, because she said the cost of the set for the originally scheduled play would be prohibitive. Tonda-Leah Fields will direct Odd Couple and retired University of Kentucky Theatre professor James W. Rodgers will direct the season finale, The Secret Garden, May 31 to June 16.
Clark said she does not know what role she will play in selecting a 2013-14 season for Woodford Theatre.
Clark’s daughter, Ellie Clark, is one of three co-directors of Lexington-based Project SEE Theatre, so there are now two theaters in the family.
The Woodford Theatre has named Steven J. Arnold as its new executive and artistic director, succeeding its longtime leader, Beth Kirchner.
For the past four years, Arnold has been executive producing director of the Church Hill Theatre in Church Hill, Md. He has worked as a professional producer, director, designer, playwright and actor, and he has amassed more than 80 production credits in the past 30 years, the theater said in a press release.
A graduate of Ohio State University, he also has worked as a freelance director and designer in central Ohio and eastern Maryland; was the artistic director of The Mansfield Playhouse in Mansfield, Ohio; and was a founder of the improv comedy group Under the Influence.
The theater says Arnold was selected from more than 70 candidates from across the country.
Brett Butler, chairman of the theater’s search committee and incoming president of its board of directors, said, “Beth Kirchner has built an incredibly solid foundation of artistic excellence, business acumen and educational commitment over the past 16 years. … It is now up to Steve to advance The Woodford Theatre from best in the Bluegrass to best in the Southeast, to our eventual goal of being the best community theater in the nation.”
- This comes from the desk of Herald-Leader arts and entertainment editor Scott Shive, who penned a couple of our ArtyFacts briefs at the end this busy week.
Woodford Theatre has announced a four-show 2010-11 season that will include the first local production of a recent Broadway hit and three American classics.
The season is:
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Sept 17-Oct. 3. The show, which ran nearly three years from 2005 to 2008, centers on the anxieties of students (played by adults) participating in the school spelling bee.
It’s a Wonderful Life, Dec. 3-19. This is retired University of Kentucky theater professor and Versailles resident James Rodgers’ stage adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic film about a distressed man who finds out what life would have been like for his loved ones if he had never been born.
Crimes of the Heart, Feb. 11-27. Beth Henley won the Pulitzer Prize for drama with her play, which had its world premier at Louisville’s Humana Festival of New American Plays, about three women struggling with their problems as they reunite during what they expect are the family patriarch’s final hours.
1776, May 13-29. The Sherman Edwards-Peter Stone musical follows several founding fathers as they struggle with declaring the United States’ independence from England.
Season subscriptions are $57.60 adults and $36 students. Call (859) 873-0648 or visit www.woodfordtheatre.com for more information.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich