The Adaire Theatre's Road to Success
Theater has been a part of society almost as long as society has been around. Since the Greeks, we've been coming up with new, innovative ways to express theatre to the crowds that form to watch the spectacle. And while innovation is always happening, the core form of theatre hasn't changed for thousands of years.
In Pulaski, the Adaire Theatre is helping to keep that innovative streak alive, hosting several unique
performances throughout the year. In 2019 they have six productions planned, each one with its own style and presence. But the productions are only skimming the surface of what goes on at the Adaire.
The Adaire Theatre has its own distinct artistic approach to its productions, and much of that can be attributed to Kendall Payne, the artistic director since the theatre's inception in 2012. Kendall has long known that theatre was his calling; in the 6th grade, a close friend of his had starred in a play at the school. When she made her entrance, she rode down the auditorium aisle on a skateboard and went straight into her performance. The event wowed him so much that he knew he wanted to join the drama club. "Ever since then, theatre has always been a part of everything I've done," Kendall told me.
Kendall says that another key part of his success with Adaire has been through the collaboration with one of his closest friends, Keith McCoy. Keith joined the Adaire back in 2015 as the associate artistic director, and since then things have gone even better. "He's my best friend, we feed off of each other and we have a great working relationship," Kendall said of his friendship with Keith.
Of course, the Adaire always has its eyes on the future. One thing that's absolutely necessary for the theatre to do well is keeping their productions fresh. They also consistently add new things to their repertoire; other than the new shows, lessons on dancing and acting are often added to the rotation of activities on offer. They even hosted a few themed cabaret nights at the Pulaski Elks Lodge, including an Elvis night and a gospel night.
The cabaret nights went so well, the Lodge offered their space to the Adaire for a full theatrical
performance. They decided to seize the opportunity, taking the chance and putting on a performance of Chicago for the Elk Lodge last year. It was a great show, and they had a great turnout. Last December, they put on a Christmas performance, which was their bestselling show to date.
For a time the Adaire was afraid of being labeled a children's theatre; involving children in their
productions and activities is a big priority, but they're also trying to market to an older crowd. But the turnout from the Elk Lodge and Christmas productions proved that more than children are interested in their content. Still though, Adaire loves to include kids in their shows, and along with the aforementioned acting classes, they also host a summer camp for the kids.
Working in such a small area may seem like it has drawbacks, but Kendall says the overall experience of running a theatre company in a small town has been a wonderful experience. "People usually have to drive to Roanoke or Wytheville, and we get a lot of comments from people thanking us for doing thishere," he said about people who have attended their shows. He told me that a lot of times, they'll even pull from the community to find local talent to include in their performances. "You might see your doctor in a show, or you might see your grandkids in a show, and a lot of times that can be more exciting than having the best actors from around the country in your show."
The Adaire will soon begin production on their 2019 season of shows. With six different shows planned, and several dates for each show, their schedule will be a busy one in the coming months. And on top of the performance lineup, the have acting classes starting in March. Others might look at that schedule and start to feel a bit anxious, but Kendall and his crew are more than prepared for anything coming their way.