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Bryant's new role is 'how to succeed in business'

Lisa K. Bryant is director of the Flat Rock Playhouse. Lisa K. Bryant is director of the Flat Rock Playhouse.

How did you pick the shows for this season?

“Because of the changes, it was really multi-tiered process. It started with a group of folks that was really an artistic advisory committee. We met three or four times, made up of different civilians in the area, with a couple folks from staff and board members. Just talking about shows — what were the good shows and the pros and cons of each. From those conversations we created a shorter list. … included Pump Boys, included “Always Patsy Cline,” included “Driving Miss Daisy.” “Fly” was part of those discussions.
Other decisions came from box office feedback in terms of requests that have come in over the years. There was a real pull for the classic pieces — ones that we had not done already (such as “Gypsy.”) I really feel like “Driving Miss Daisy” will be sold out. …
For most of the shows including the musicals, there’s conversations on what is sustainable, what can we afford to produce? — matched with what people want to see. That’s the balancing act that every theater everywhere has to do. (The budget) is a very conscious conversation every day. Most of the shows including the musicals with the exception of ‘Gypsy’ are one location. The casts really are very modest in every show. I would say outside of the major musicals where we have the support of the apprentices, I think the next largest cast size is like six or seven or lower. So that’s a conscious choice in terms of cost and fiscal responsibility. It’s all a balancing act.”

How are those things different from the way it is two years ago?
“The sets will still be spectacular. We’ve also condensed the season to really capture when the tourists are here and when snowbirds are really concentrated here, which means that we’re not opening Patsy Cline until the first week of May, which is two months later. We were going into rehearsal in March last year for ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor.’ Our season was fully cranked, which means things were being built even before that, which means our technical staff was in place in January and February.”

How much savings have you come up with?
“Over $100,000. Basically we dissolved eight fulltime positions. Instead of having a fulltime resident music director we’re now hiring musicians on contract including music director.”

What’s it like for an actress and a schoolteacher, hired as Playhouse artistic director, to evolve into an administrator who has to bring in eight people and say, Sorry, we’re eliminating your job?