Lisa K. Bryant, who built the North Henderson High School theater program from a few kids doing sparsely attended performances to enthusiastic classrooms of actors performing in sellout musicals, is returning to her roots at the Flat Rock Playhouse.
Bryant has already started part-time as associate artistic creative director, under artistic director Vincent Marini. She'll start the Playhouse job fulltime on June 17, leaving a teaching job she loved for an institution she's loved since she was an 18-year-old apprentice from Elon University in the mid-'90s.
"Basically I get to work with Vincent on all things creative related to the Playhouse," she said. She will direct some shows and help with casting. "And I'll work with the apprentices, which has always been my favorite thing to do," she said.
She has made her mark at NHHS, where she expanded the program and impressed audiences with her product.
"I think my principal (Frank Edney) said it best, when I was leaving and he was offering me all sorts of things to get me to stay," she said. "He said, 'I don't mean to tease you. I know your heart is in both places.' I love the school. I'm so proud of these kids and their willingness to just go with me and let me lead them down new paths. It's tough" to leave.
"I'm so proud of what we've done. I started with 22 kids in three classes my first semester and we now have more than 125 kids. We had maybe 50 people for 'Alice in Wonderland' and three years later we did 'Wizard of Oz' and sold out all five shows."
She said she's gained an even deeper appreciation for the community having taught high school for three years and become close to kids and families from the apple country. She is married to another educator, Glenn Marlow Elementary School principal John Bryant.
"I'm really happy to have Lisa on board," Marini said. "She's strongly connected to the community from teaching in the school system. She's a Vagabond sort of through and through."
The Playhouse chose Bryant from a pool of about 35 candidates. She has a bachelor's degree from Elon and masters in fine art from the University of Central Florida.
"I think we ended up at the top of the pile," Marini said. "I can tell she's going to be directing, both YouTheatre and the professional shows, casting and planning, and she's going to take over day-to-day operations of Music on the Rock. She's going to really be an asset for us here and I'm excited to have her."