|Retirement of two directors will bring changes|
Rex Stephenson is known for his portrayal in “Mark Twain on the Lecture Circuit,” along with Jody Brown as the reporter. The director duo will retire from the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre this year.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Although two key leaders are retiring after this season, Ferrum College will continue its partnership with the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.
Rex Stephenson, BRDT artistic director, and Jody Brown, BRDT executive director, announced earlier this year they are retiring from those posts after 33 years.
The promotions for this season's plays raised questions about whether BRDT would stay in business.
Dr. Jennifer Braaten, Ferrum College president, has put that speculation to rest.
"While Rex and Jody will be a hard act to follow, the show will go on," she said. "The lights will go up again in the Sale Theatre, and we're also exploring new venues and innovative ways to sustain Ferrum's tradition of providing you with quality entertainment."
Braaten praised the work of Stephenson and Brown and thanked supporters of BRDT.
"We are blessed that so many thousands of you returned year after year to enjoy acclaimed dramas, comedies and musicals, as well as the outstanding original productions that debuted on the Sale Theatre stage," she said. "We are extremely grateful to the businesses and individuals who have been so generous in their financial support."
Braaten said the decision by Stephenson and Brown to "go dark at the close of this 33rd season was a difficult one for them to make."
"This talented duo, along with the gifted Emily Rose Tucker in more recent years, has been responsible for bringing top notch theatrical entertainment to the region," she said.
Ferrum College has fully supported the BRDT throughout its history by providing the use of Schoolfield Hall for rehearsals, staging and storage, the services of the dining hall staff and the housekeeping and maintenance staff, she added.
"We'll be working hard behind the scenes during the coming months to develop programming that you will find enjoyable, thought-provoking and, most importantly, entertaining," she said.
Braaten said changes may include a children's theatre and summer outdoor performances at Hart International Plaza in the center of campus.
The Jack Tale Players will continue, but may be under the auspices of the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum (the official state repository of Blue Ridge folklore).
"Now and always, along with profound gratitude to Rex and Jody, we are grateful to you, our devoted friends," she said. "Your support has always been the backbone of Ferrum's theatrical efforts, and we will be faithful to your dedication and commitment."
Stephenson has been with the Ferrum College Drama Department since 1973. He has been the writer, producer and director of the Jack Tale Players since 1975. Over the years, Stephenson has written and produced more than 25 plays and directed over 150 productions. He has also produced, written and directed eight stateside USO tours for Veterans' Administration Medical Centers.
Brown has been a professor at Ferrum College since 1975. She was the chair of the Fine Arts and Visual Arts divisions at Ferrum College from 1985 to 2001. Brown has been a member of the Jack Tale Players since 1984. She has directed 10 plays for the BRDT and produced a number of others. Brown has written and edited numerous publications dealing with drama and English composition and rhetoric.