In the last couple of years, Very Little Theatre has gone through major changes, including a $1.7 million renovation during the pandemic, adding a fly loft to hang backdrops on and changing the seating capacity for additional comfort.
Another change brought in Ron Evans, the community theater’s first paid executive director in its 94 years. Now Evans has decided to step down from his position after just nine months on the job, and the theater board has appointed a new general manager.
VLT Board President Tim Tendick says that this change in leadership was “a little unexpected” and “disappointing.” “We were hoping he would be a long-term executive director,” Tendick says.
Before, the theater ran solely on the help of community volunteers and members who painted sets, ushered and more. Evans brought in loads of ideas to “reinvent” VLT, as he told Eugene Weekly in a March 16 interview. He took on the role in February.
“I have completed my Ph.D. and will be pursuing other opportunities,” Evans says in a phone interview about his departure.
During his time as executive director, the theater made a number of changes. The wheelchair accessibility has improved with installed ramps, technology advances throughout the theater are in the process, guests are welcomed by name at the ticket office and concessions are available before shows. Also, members can now create an account to see past transactions and make donations on VLT’s website.
One of the many duties Evans took on was personally addressing the crowd in a curtain speech before performances. Now, longtime member and box office manager Adrienne West takes on the role of VLT’s leader as the general manager. She will focus on working with publicity, volunteers, the box office and more.
“I’ve been working with Ron. So many of his initiatives and so forth will continue,” West says. “I think we’re going to do really well.”
West will continue to make website changes to keep it updated. Another addition that will carry on is the dramaturg who provides history and context of the show to the cast and crew. She says it feels personal to her. Community volunteers are still a big part of the theater. The director, actors and behind-the-scenes crew in the most recent production of Jekyll and Hyde are all volunteers.
“Everything we do is with the support and liberation of volunteers,” West says. “To me, live theater is as close as we will get to creating actual magic because everyone brings their intentions, drive, talents and experience.”
Though Evans will no longer work at VLT, he says he plans on becoming a VLT member and staying involved with the arts.
Evans has guided the transition with the volunteer support, West and Sarah De Leon, assistant to Evans and director of the upcoming show Grand Horizons, Tendick says. “I’m hoping that it’ll be a wonderful environment going forward for well past my lifetime.”
“My biggest hope for the VLT is that we continue to honor and recognize the talents of our community,” West says.