Our actors have the great privilege of being recognized for their work in the curtain call. But for each actor, there are many more people backstage moving sets, collecting props, balancing sound levels, adjusting lights, and just generally making the show happen. They are our Unsung Heroes. This month's "Unsung Hero" is Renee Mahon Davis, our wonderful artistic director!
What does being Artistic Director entail?
There are quite a few responsibilities as Artistic Director. One of the primary jobs include helping to select the shows for each season. I meet with a play reading committee who scour through scripts that have been submitted by CLT directors.
I also hold regular meetings with all of the CLT directors in which we discuss concerns or address issues. I report all of that information back to the Board of Directors.
Another major part of this position is to oversee the CLT Apprentice Program, which allows up and coming directors to learn the ins and outs of all aspects of a production. Soon-to-be directors must successfully serve as a stage manager, a producer, and an assistant director before that are able to direct a main stage production at CLT.
How long have you been involved with CLT?
This year is my 35th year with Community Little Theatre. My whole family joined when my sister and I auditioned for the musical Annie... my sister, Michelle was cast in the lead role. I was not cast at all. It’s a rather depressing story. But, hey, I’m still here!
My whole family stayed involved, both behind the scenes and on stage. My very first “role” was the sacrificial goat in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
What other roles have you performed in the theater?
I am also currently the chair of makeup at CLT. Behind the scenes I have directed, assistant directed, stage managed, produced and ran props. I was also a former Board member.
What are some of the challenges you face as Artistic Director?
Dealing with disagreements and conflict among directors is what I think is the biggest challenge. Another challenge is making sure directors have all the resources available for their production.
What’s your life like outside the theater?
I’m a busy mother to two wonderful boys: Noah will be a senior in high school and Connor will start middle school. Both are wonderful musicians, but have yet to really catch the theater bug (Connor is getting there, though).
I have been a Middle School social studies teacher and drama coach for over twenty years.
You’re seen often singing and/or acting in shows, any favorite roles?
On stage, I’ve had the opportunity to play lots of fun roles. My favorite role of all time was Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. I love to play the comedic roles if I can.
How has CLT affected your life?
This may sound cheesy, but CLT, played an enormous role in shaping who I am today. I mean, I was 10 years old when my family immersed itself into this theater family!
Most people don’t realize that I am an extreme introvert and quite shy in “the real world,” but onstage I can be absolutely anybody, and I always fully dive into whatever character I play.
Some of my oldest and dearest friends, who are really more like family, are from this theater.
If you could have the chance to be a part of any show, why would it be that show and what role would you want to fulfill?
I have two dream roles. One is Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd. She is such a dark and sinister character...and so incredibly arrogant. A character like Lovett would allow me to play both comedy and drama...not to mention, I would be singing Sondheim.
My second dream role is Anna from The King and I. I am a huge Rodger’s and Hammerstein fan. While it’s not the typical comedic role I would usually try out for, the character encompasses a passion that I would love to be able to explore on stage someday.
Why do you think community theatre is an asset to our communities?
Well, the word “community” is right in our name. I remember years and years ago, there was a committee formed to consider changing our name because some members felt the name “Community Little Theatre” gave off a negative vibe...that we were just a rinky-dink group putting on low-quality shows when compared to the other theater groups in the state.
Well, people who have seen our shows can attest to the fact that we put on some pretty high quality productions. Over the years, our organization has participated in parades, festivals, and trade shows. We have offered workshops, scholarships and celebrations. For nearly 80 years, this theater has embodied all for which the word community stands.