Alan Poindexter, who had been longtime artistic director at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, died Tuesday night. He was a well-known contributor to Charlotte’s theater community for the past three decades.
“It’s a tremendous loss to our community,” said Dan Shoemaker, executive director of the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte.
Poindexter, 47, had been in and out of the hospital the past week, friends said.
Barbara VanSchaick, whose daughter was close with Poindexter, said he had been sick for several years. She said he became very ill three years ago and recovered but that his “whole body shut down” this week. VanSchaick declined to elaborate on Poindexter’s illness.
Poindexter was a talented journeyman actor-director until he came to citywide attention in 1996, playing Prior Walter in the Charlotte Repertory Theatre production of “Angels in America.”
His full-frontal nude scene (and the play’s homosexual elements) roused ire among fundamentalist ministers and some public officials. The following year, the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners cut its annual contribution to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arts & Science Council, which supported Charlotte Rep.
“He was an extraordinary artist,” said Steve Umberger, who was Poindexter’s director for the play. “Some people are artists. That’s what they are at the core of their being, and that’s what Alan was. And he always delivered the goods at the highest possible standards.”
Poindexter grew up in northeast Gaston County and studied theater at UNC Charlotte. He once said taking a class at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte in 1978 changed his life. In the class, he helped produce a show called “Sword and Mirror.”
“It was a magical thing for me,” he said in an interview.
He co-founded Innovative Theater, a fringe troupe, in 1987, and was a Tarradiddle Player and occasional director for Children’s Theatre. In the 1990s, he notably played Oscar Wilde in “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” and Prior Walter in “Angels” and starred in a one-man adaptation of Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.”
Poindexter was named artistic director of Children’s Theatre in 2002 and was the director for a decade. During his time there, the company moved from Morehead Street to its home in ImaginOn, increased its budget from $2 million to $4 million and enlarged the scope of productions.
He directed several productions, including “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which broke company attendance records.
Poindexter transformed Children’s Theatre, said Bruce LaRowe, Children’s Theatre executive director. (Poindexter resigned from his post last August.)
“We are indebted to him for helping open minds and hearts of many to the awesome power of theater for young people,” LaRowe said in an email.
Poindexter lived in what Tim Parati, Children’s Theatre’s scenic artist, called the “Cat House,” which was a quadruplex in Charlotte where Parati, Poindexter and VanSchaick’s daughter all lived in apartments.
“He had a very tough exterior, could even be intimidating, but if you knew him very well, he was a sweetheart,” Parati said.
“His talent touched so many people,” Shoemaker added. “He had a twinkle in his eye ... I and think that’s one of the reasons why he excelled in everything he did.”
Staff writer Lawrence Toppman contributed.