Seven Daysies Awards: Small-Town Arts Impresario: Doug Anderson, 2016

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Small-Town Arts Impresario: Doug Anderson 

click to enlarge Doug Anderson at Town Hall Theater - CALEB KENNA
  • Caleb Kenna
  • Doug Anderson at Town Hall Theater
Age: 63
Occupation: executive director, Town Hall Theater
Town: East Middlebury
Google “Doug Anderson,” and you’ll find a Tolkien scholar, an American gospel singer, a New Zealand rugby player and a Scottish wildlife photographer, among others. None of them is Doug Anderson, executive director of Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. Though, as he points out, the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Florida comes a little closer — conceptually, anyway.

click to enlarge gnometown-logo.png
Trained as an actor and theater director, Ohio-born Anderson — an East Middlebury resident since 1993 — doesn’t just head up THT; he is the reason the beloved venue exists. “I first walked into the building in 1997 and found out it had been a theater,” he recalls. “I said, ‘We’ll take it!’ I sensed in an instant it matched up with my peculiar skill set.”

The 1883 building had fallen into disrepair, but Anderson saw only potential — not just for a theater but for the community. When it comes to the vitality and economy of downtowns, he says, “You open a theater, and things improve.”
The restoration took 10 years and a number of creative, humorously themed fundraisers that yielded some $5 million. THT opened officially in 2008 and now hosts 165 events per year.

But from the beginning, Anderson pursued his passion, mounting performances in the space even as bats flew in the rafters. He founded the Opera Company of Middlebury in 2004. He’s directed shows for the Middlebury Actors Workshop and college theater; he recently directed James and the Giant Peach through THT’s educational programs. Next year, he says, he’ll move into an artistic director role as the board solicits a new ED.

What does he think about his big role in a small town? “It’s very gratifying,” says Anderson, “to know that the arts can have such an impact on everything.”

Vermont performer more people should know: 

Kim Anderson is the most astonishing musical theater performer I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I’d cast her yearly, monthly, weekly if I had the chance.

Best place to dine before catching a show at THT: 

A tie: Sabai Sabai (excellent Thai food just next door to the theater) and Two Brothers Tavern (our performers’ favorite after-show gathering place).

Off-the-beaten-track place to see a great show: 

Great bands, great wine and a great vibe at the Lincoln Peak Vineyard [concert series] in New Haven.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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