The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem has named Philip Powell as its interim executive director, replacing Lane Fields who stepped down in October to take a job with Papa John’s International.

Powell, who started work in November, will lead the theater during its 85th year of productions. Acting and directing professionally for more than 25 years, he has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and Theatre from Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky.

Since 1987, Powell has owned and been a video director for Leading Edge Video in Winston-Salem, doing work for Amazon, LG Electronics, Walmart, SyFy Channel and HGTV.

Powell has been on the board of the Little Theatre for five years and has worked on marketing with Kristina Ebbink, the marketing director. He has also been on the play-selection committee for several years and has also worked in development.

“I’m excited about the insights that I can bring to the table having been on the board,” Powell said. “I know all the players and have a production background and financial knowledge.”

“We are pleased to welcome Philip to lead The Little Theatre during our 85th Season,” Jay Matthews, the board president, said. “He is a seasoned theater professional and this, along with his expertise in business, is bound to be a huge benefit to the organization.”

“Lane did a great job,” Powell said. “And we are great friends.”

Fields came to the Little Theatre in February 2018 and led it through a challenging transition that year, when the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County sold the building the theater had called home for many years.

This past August, the Arts Council opened a 200-seat renovated theater space, Reynolds Place Theatre, in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. The Little Theatre now shares the building with other organizations, including the North Carolina Black Repertory Co., which was also displaced in the sale. The Little Theatre also performs in the Dunn Auditorium at the Southeastern Center for the Arts on Marguerite Drive.

“I loved working with the Arts Council,” Fields said. “Chris Jones makes sure that everything is done professionally and everybody is taken care of.” Jones is the Arts Council’s operations director who oversaw the renovation of Reynolds Place.

“I got a great opportunity with Papa John’s, for a whole lot more money, and I just couldn’t refuse,” Fields said. “I’ll be managing co-ops and markets — a large footprint west of the Mississippi.

“Still, it was a bittersweet decision. The (theater) board has been very supportive, and I have kept them informed all along the way. I’ll be a donor for life.”

Fields came to Winston-Salem from CityRep, a theater in Oklahoma City, Okla. He is not sure yet where he will relocate, but Tucson, Ariz., and Salt Lake City, Utah, are possibilities, he said.

“We are still in transition,” Powell said. “And figuring out new and different ways to bring production values to new spaces. It’s a little like downsizing an organization, and are having to figure out how to do things differently.

“I want to thank audiences for following us and the Arts Council for supporting us. I’m really sure that we are going to wind up in a good place and have a theater that Winston-Salem has been and will be proud of moving forward.”

The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem is the oldest performing arts group in Winston-Salem. In addition to its mainstage plays and musicals, the Little Theatre provides acting classes for children and adults and summer camps for children and teens.

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