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Remembering Alan Poindexter

by Mark I. West

Remembering Alan Poindexter

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Picture by T. Ortega Gaines / Charlotte Observer

July 14, 2013

I had heard that Alan Poindexter, the former Artistic Director of the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, was ill, but it still came as a shock to me when I learned that he died on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. He was just 47 years old.

I have memories of Alan as a young man in his 20s. He was an undergraduate student at UNC Charlotte at the time, and he took a children’s literature course from me in the 1980s. I remember his enthusiasm for children’s stories, his animated comments during class discussions, and his tendency to defy traditional interpretations of children’s stories. In our class discussion of fairy tales, for example, he liked to look at the tales from the villains’ point of view. He later told me that his experiences in this course contributed to his interest in children’s theatre.

Alan launched his theatrical career before he actually graduated from college. He always struck me as a man in a hurry, and for him, satisfying a few lingering graduation requirements took a backseat to pursuing his passion for acting and directing. Beginning in the late 1980s, he established himself as a major player in Charlotte theatrical circles. He co-founded the experimental troupe known as Innovative Theater and 1987, and he started directing productions for the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte around the same time period.

In 2002 Alan became the Artistic Director of the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, a position he held for a decade. Because of Alan’s artistic vision, high energy, and exceptional leadership skills, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte developed into one of the leading children’s theatre companies in the United States. In the opinion of many people in the local theatre community, the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte is the most influential and highly acclaimed theatrical organization in the entire Charlotte region, and Alan has a lot to do with the company’s excellent reputation.

In 2007, the company celebrated its 60th anniversary season, and to mark the event, Alan decided to stage a lavish production of The Wizard of Oz. He set out to make this the most ambitious production in the history of the company, and he completely succeeded. The flawless acting, the original sets and costumes, the astonishing special effects, and the live musicians combined to make this production a high point in the history of the company. For those of us who admired Alan’s acting as well as his directing, this production was made even more memorable because Alan played with great zeal the role of the Wicked Witch of the West. Like many others in the audience, I absolutely loved his evil cackle.

Although Alan is best known for his work with the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, he had an ongoing relationship with UNC Charlotte. He performed in a number of UNC Charlotte theatrical productions, and he worked collaboratively on various projects with several UNC Charlotte professors, including Kirk Melnikoff from the Department of English and Delia Neil from the Department of Dance. He facilitated the involvement of UNC Charlotte students and faculty in numerous Children’s Theatre productions, and he helped establish an internship program designed to provide UNC Charlotte students with opportunities to work with the professional staff associated with the Children’s Theatre.

The special talent that Alan brought to his directorial and acting endeavors is widely recognized in this region as evidenced by the fact that he won nearly every theatrical award given in the Charlotte area. In my conversations with him, however, I had a sense that awards did not mean that much to him. What motivated Alan was his passion for live theatre and his desire to share this passion with young people.

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Tags: Mark West, Alan Poindexter, Children's Theatre, Charlotte

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