Popular Community Theater Kudzu Playhouse Closing Its Doors
Hit hard by the recession, Kudzu Playhouse will be closing in January 2011.
On January 14th, 2011, Jeannie and Wally Hinds will lock the doors to the Kudzu Playhouse for the last time.
Like many small businesses, the recession has been hard on the Kudzu Playhouse. According to Mr. Hinds, "It costs $7,000 each month to cover just the rent and utilities for the theater. We depend completely on donations and ticket sales to cover these expenses and, unfortunately, audiences have dwindled over the last couple of years as people look for ways to cut back."
The Hinds have been passionately involved in the metro Atlanta community theater scene for over 20 years. Noticing the lack of quality productions available to audiences outside the perimeter, Jeannie and Wally decided to open the Kudzu Playhouse in Roswell Town Center in 2001.
Three years ago, the Playhouse relocated to its current location in Brannon Square on Alpharetta Highway. The move provided space for two stages and a larger audience, but occurred at the start of the recession. "We've struggled to keep going for the past three years hoping the economy would improve. Unfortunately, the management company isn't willing to work with us any longer."
In its 10-year tenure, the Kudzu Playhouse has drawn a wide audience both locally and from metro Atlanta. The caliber of shows lured talent from across the Perimeter. This past spring, actors Colin Hughey and Amber Clarke committed to daily rehearsals and weekend performances requiring a grueling 45- to 50-minute commute in order to take part in the Kudzu's staging of the musical "Rent."
"Jeannie and Wally are the epitome of community theater." according to Clarke, a professional nurse and part-time actress who has worked with the Hinds on several productions over the years, "They believed in helping everyone who walked through the doors. They believed that theater was about the relationships as much as it was about the art. The Atlanta theater scene will miss their generosity of spirit and their willingness to take a chance on shows not normally performed outside the Perimeter."
To Hughey, the Kudzu Playhouse closing will be "a terrible loss for the Roswell and Atlanta theater communities." He states "I'm completely saddened by the news. Performing in RENT was one of the greatest experiences I have had in the theater and encouraged me to move forward with acting as a profession."
"Our goal has always been to spark an interest in the arts," says Mr. Hinds, "and several of the kids from our theater camps have gone on to perform on Broadway. When they come back and tell us what an impact performing at Kudzu has had on their lives — that makes it all worthwhile.
"We still haven't really had time to process the loss of our lease. This is the busiest time for us with Christmas productions and we haven't had time to figure out what comes next. The dream solution would be a new space subsidized by the city of Roswell. Right now, however, we have to focus on providing the best shows possible and selling tickets."
The Kudzu Playhouse is located at 10743 Alpharetta Highway, in the Brannon Square Shopping Center. Productions of "A Christmas Carol," "A Christmas Story" and "A Place in the Christmas Choir" will run through the month of December. Contact the box office at the Kudzu Playhouse at 770-594-1020 for pricing and show times.