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 The lowdown on the Little Theatre 

Executive director Kevin Harris of the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre talks about Gypsy and exciting changes for the new season

click to enlarge CATCHING UP WITH THE LITTLE THEATRE :  The current performance at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre is Gypsy, running through June 21. Don’t miss their summer fundraising show Vegas, Baby!, which runs July 10 – Aug. 2.  All performances are at The City Playhouse, 888 Morro Street, SLO. Tickets and more info available at 786-2440 and slolittletheatre.org. - PHOTO BY SANDRA CORTEZ
  • PHOTO BY SANDRA CORTEZ
  • CATCHING UP WITH THE LITTLE THEATRE : The current performance at the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre is Gypsy, running through June 21. Don’t miss their summer fundraising show Vegas, Baby!, which runs July 10 – Aug. 2. All performances are at The City Playhouse, 888 Morro Street, SLO. Tickets and more info available at 786-2440 and slolittletheatre.org.

New Times Tell me about your job as executive director at the SLO Little Theatre and your role in the productions.

Kevin Harris
Basically, I am responsible for making sure the directors stay on budget and for making sure the productions have a certain artistic consistency. I make sure the theater runs from day to day and that everyone’s needs are met, from artistic teams to the volunteers and staff.

New Times Do you attend the performances?

Harris You definitely want to see [each show] at least once. If it’s good, you want to see it more than once because a tremendous amount of work goes into these performances. In the community theater, there is a huge amount of volunteer hours. Gypsy alone has 70 volunteers putting in thousands of hours. You want to come and celebrate how it all comes together. It’s really kind of a miracle.

New Times Where do you source your volunteers? Do they come to you, or do you have to advertise?

Harris We do a little bit of advertising, but most of our dedicated volunteers are people that had the theater bug in the past and haven’t been able to get rid of it. They were in theater in high school or have some desire to express themselves artistically on stage or by helping out with productions backstage. It’s really a nice way to hang out with a great group of creative people. It’s a lot of fun, which is what I think the volunteers are in it for.

New Times
How does the community of SLO compare to other arts communities that you have lived and worked in before?

Harris I have only been at the Little Theatre for six months, but so far SLO seems to be extremely supportive of the arts across the board. The Little Theatre has an incredible amount of community support, which comes from being around for 70 years. It is a cornerstone here, and the subscriber base is unbelievably loyal. A lot of theaters would kill for such a long history and loyal subscription.

New Times
Do you think the Little Theatre aims to provide shows for all age groups? Is Gypsy a show for little kids, too?

Harris That all depends on how you’re raising your kids. I personally would not feel the least bit wary about taking my 6-year-old daughter to Gypsy because there is nothing overtly risqué about it. While it may have been a bit of a thrill back when Gypsy was written in the ’50s and early ’60s to see some of these strip numbers on stage, by today’s standards, this is as PG as it gets. A lot of the adult content is in the subject matter, so that would go over a little kid’s head anyway. And even if they were to get it, it’s not as if they’re talking about anything worse than you could see on VH-1. [laughs] I know from experience, unfortunately.

New Times A lot of the performing arts shows around SLO are out-priced for students and lower income families. How is the pricing at the Little Theatre?

Harris One thing that was important to me when I got here in December [2008] was making the students able to come to our shows … our demographic is old. We need to start reaching out. We live in a college community and over half the people here are under the age of 30. We have to make it more accessible, so next season we are cutting the ticket price for students almost in half … all student tickets will be $15 for any show, any time. That is as low as I can go without people throwing stuff at me.

New Times I think that’s great. The students need more entertainment options.

Harris We have to start tailoring our seasons. We have an incredible mix of plays coming up—and they’re all good—that I think will appeal to a wider demographic than in seasons past. We are hoping to start up late-night cabaret performances for younger people as another alternative to going downtown on Friday night.

New Times Get a little culture in them!

Harris A little. Not too much.

Arielle Perez is the arts intern. Reach her through the calendar editor at cheron@newtimesslo.com.

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