Alan Poindexter, artistic director for the last 10 years of the largest theater company in Charlotte, has left Children’s Theatre of Charlotte abruptly. Education director Michelle Long has stepped in as interim artistic director while the company searches nationwide to fill the position.
Poindexter actually resigned on Aug. 21; the company’s board of directors and management decided not to make the announcement public until the Observer asked about it Wednesday afternoon.
“We made the decision not to say anything until we kicked off the season,” said executive director Bruce LaRowe. (It begins this Friday with “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”)
“We wanted to know what our transition plan was, to know who would do the pieces of work Alan was doing, to announce Michelle in the interim capacity and be able to talk about when the search process was going to commence. It was a personal decision of Alan’s, and we wish him well,” LaRowe continued. “We don’t have a comment to make about it.”
Poindexter didn’t respond to calls to his cellphone and a visit to his home on Thursday.
His decade at Children’s Theatre involved tremendous growth. The company moved from Morehead Street to its home in ImaginOn, increased its budget from $2 million to $4 million and enlarged the physical scope of productions.
“He expanded our creative vision to explore what was possible technically, musically and artistically,” said LaRowe. “We flew actors, utilized new scenic elements and traps. As a team, we explored the craft and artistry at a level we couldn’t on Morehead Street. But our success is also representative of a strong artistic team of directors, actors and (technicians).”
Robert Touchstone, president of the Metrolina Theatre Association, called Poindexter “a fixture of the Charlotte theater community for over two decades, from involvement with Charlotte Repertory Theatre to tremendous artistic leadership at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. His legacy will be one of passion for the art form and a commitment to providing audiences with the highest caliber of theater.”
Changes caused by Poindexter’s departure may not be immediately apparent to audiences: He was scheduled to direct just one mainstage play in the 2012-13 season, “The Secret Garden,” and Long will do that.
She knows her way around a stage: When she worked at Charlotte Christian School, her drama program won the statewide N.C. Theatre Conference competition in 2009 and was invited to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
LaRowe didn’t know whether she would apply for the job during the upcoming search. That search will encompass children’s theaters in other cities, graduates recommended by programs in theater arts, and professional youth theater networks. LaRowe wants to screen applicants this fall, begin face-to-face interviews after Jan. 1 and hire someone before the 2013-14 season begins.
“More than almost any other children’s theater in the country, we have an equal commitment to the work done on stage and the work done in classrooms and schools,” he said.
“Because of our relationship with the Public Library, we look at plays from a literature connection, and that’s a strategic focus we’re concentrating on even more. Alan endorsed the collaborative nature of what we do, and potential candidates need to believe in it.”