Turning the corner

The Seacoast Rep’s new leadership team looks to the future

When Craig Faulkner resigned as artistic director of the Seacoast Repertory Theatre last October, it was the latest in a long line of difficulties for the performing arts venue. The Rep’s next main-stage show, “The Wizard of Oz,” was on the horizon, and the theater didn’t have enough money to stage the production. And, without “Oz,” the theater might have had to close its doors permanently.

Three months later, though, Miles Burns, the Rep’s interim artistic director, said the organization has turned a corner. Burns, interim managing director Kathleen Cavalaro, and director of marketing and development, Brian Kelly, are part of the new leadership team that is rebuilding the Rep. And, though there are still challenges ahead, the three said they’re optimistic about the theater’s future.

A fundraising campaign last fall helped save the theater from immediate danger and ensured “Oz” made it to the stage, Burns said. And, while preparations for “Oz” began, Cavalaro and the Rep’s board of directors and volunteers set to work on rebuilding the theater’s administrative structure.

“Suddenly, no one was paid late, which we had become notorious for. Materials came in. There was a complete turnaround from the old disjointed practices and it’s hard not to feel that there is something big around the corner,” said Burns.

How did the Rep’s infrastructure break down? According to Cavalaro, many of the problems were caused by a disconnect between the theater’s youth programs, the main-stage productions, and the Red Light series.

“There was a feeling of separate teams competing for the same space,” said Cavalaro, who was a board member before taking on her new role. “Each program was also in charge of running and marketing their own programming. We would also run into problems where our sold-out youth camps would be without a space one day, despite that they brought in nearly 30 percent of our income, because main stage was rehearsing.”

Another problem was that actors were also given administrative roles and put on salary. According to Cavalaro, heavy rehearsal schedules meant administrative work took a backseat. Those jobs are separated now, though people with administrative positions can take part in productions, she said.

“Now that we aren’t in crisis, we are seeing how the new system and budget reflect and work. We think we can get out of hand-to-mouth living.” — Brian Kelly

Now that they have moved out of what Kelly refers to as the “darkest days of ‘Oz,’” he said the team at the Rep is able to look to the theater’s future.

“Now that we aren’t in crisis, we are seeing how the new system and budget reflect and work,” said Kelly. “We think we can get out of hand-to-mouth living.”

So far, the Rep’s board has approved the theater’s 2015 budget, finalized the main-stage production schedule, and brought on new staff members, including youth program manager Seraphina Caligiure and front of house manager Mark Adams, who previously managed the Coat of Arms pub.

This year’s main-stage shows include Broadway favorites like “Avenue Q” and “Into the Woods.” But the first production of 2015, starting Feb. 6, is the musical “Guys and Dolls,” chosen for its bright colors and light-hearted energy. According to Cavalaro, Kelly, and Burns, it’s a sign of brighter days ahead for the Rep.