Woodford Theatre planning to reopen this summer, First main-stage production set for December
Nothing is certain given the uncertainties of COVID-19. But under the
leadership of new interim Executive Director Alex Maddox, Woodford
Theatre is making plans to reopen this summer and produce a main-stage
show in December, he said.
“I had to figure out a way to get this theater back up on its feet,”
said Maddox. “I sort of felt an obligation to step up and do what I
could to make sure this theater survived this shutdown and got back on
its feet for the community ...
“It’s so important to have a community theater – especially, I think, in
this community … I’ve seen firsthand since coming here (as business
director) in September 2019 how much this community values this theater …”
Woodford Theatre cancelled its production of “Children of a Lesser God”
in March 2020 because of the pandemic, and its stage lights have
remained dark with no live performances – or a 2020-21 season.
With his onstage experience as an actor, Maddox said virtual
performances are just not the same for the audience or the performers.
“It’s a live performance art. That’s what sets us apart from Netflix or
film or TV,” said Maddox. “A humongous part of theater is the energy and
interaction with a live audience, between performer and audience member.”
Maddox said he has been working alongside Woodford Theatre’s board of
directors on a timeline to safely reopen.
His other priority has been getting the Woodford Theatre Young Artists
program, which has been very popular in the community and also
recognized nationally, “back on its feet” and going again this summer,
Maddox said. Simultaneously, he’s working on selecting shows for this
main-stage season and also securing sponsors for the productions as well
as reaching out to actors and directors for a season that will feature
four full-length productions, he said.
“It’s no secret that our main sources of revenue are ticket sales and
sponsorships for these shows as well as, honestly, tuition for our
education programming … Not having those this past year, it’s no secret,
it’s had an impact financially,” said Maddox. “So I’d say it’s pretty
important to look toward getting our main-stage productions back as soon
as we can; all while of course following CDC guidelines and making sure
that we can do so safely.”
If 2.5 million Kentuckians get vaccinated, state restrictions on
capacity limits could be lifted for venues with less than 1,000 seats,
Mattox noted. He said that could allow Woodford Theatre to open its
season at full capacity (300 seats).
Efforts are also ongoing to partner with the City of Versailles on a
variety of opportunities and special events involving its young artists,
Mattox and board Chair Danielle Bozarth said. They would also like to
explore opportunities for students in the public schools to use Woodford
Theatre’s performance space when possible.
“That’s my big goal, is to just rally the community behind the theater,”
He’s also working to hire staff.
Dawn Connerley, who’s known for her set construction, will return as
technical director, he and Bozarth said. They said a fulltime
marketing/development director and box office person will also be hired.
The scaled-down staff is being reduced from six to four, said Maddox. He
was the only staff member not furloughed when Woodford Theatre took an
“intermission” in December 2020.
As interim executive director, Maddox said he will handle the
responsibilities of former artistic director Vanessa Becker Weig, while
continuing his responsibilities as business director. His one-year
contract in this dual role allows the Woodford Theatre board to assess
its situation going forward, he said.
Depending on Maddox’s workload in this dual role, Bozarth said a new
artistic director could be hired in June 2022.
“I think we took the right steps when the pandemic happened to be able …
to reopen and to be able to stay open,” she said. “… I think we’re in a
really good place.”
People, she added, are “ready to come back to the theater.”