Lindsay takes final curtain call as AFAA executive director

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 15:26
  • The cast of “Guys and Dolls, Jr.” takes a bow at the Alaska Fine Arts Academy. Executive Director Holly Lindsay (middle in green) is stepping down from her position. Photo by Lailani Cook for The Star

Outgoing Alaska Fine Arts Academy Executive Director Holly Lindsay took an emotional curtain call on Saturday night after the last performance of “Guys and Dolls, Jr.”

After a reprise of “A Bushel and A Peck,” by the cast, Lindsay thanked everyone for their hard work and handed out gifts.

The small cast spent three weeks in dancing, singing and acting classes, followed by learning scenes from the play and building sets.

“We knew we wanted to do a period play. We wanted the kids to get to see some part of the past,” she said, adding that as soon as “Guys and Dolls, Jr.” became available she jumped at the chance to direct it.

“Guys and Dolls” is a classic boy-meets-girl story with a smattering of church ladies, gambling and even some rum consumption in Cuba. The intimate stage at AFAA was transformed into Times Square with yellow duct tape and the addition of minimal set dressings and props were just enough to push the story forward.

“We talked a lot about different parts of the play,” she said in a recent interview with The Star.

Expectations for the roles of men and women in society were different, back then, she explained. But also, working with younger actors, there’s a fine line between educating kids and over-exposure to more grown up situations.

“All of our kisses were fake,” she said.

In the play, principal characters use props like hats, to fake kiss behind.

“These kids not only had to act, sing and dance, but they did it with a New York accent,” she said of the cast’s performance.

Lindsay has always accepted a challenge, and nothing became more challenging that casting “Guys and Dolls,” when the available actors, were pretty much all girls. Many of the support characters, which would have been played by boys, were played by female actors. But the girls didn’t miss a beat when it came to line delivery, songs and choreography.

“It’s just timing,” Lindsay said, adding that the next intensive coming up at AFAA, “Cinderella,” has more boys signed up than girls. She laughed at the prospect of changing the name of the production to “Cinderfella,” but it won’t be her responsibility as director this time.

“Guys and Dolls, Jr.” is Lindsay’s last intensive class, but she remains on staff as music director as the transition continues. Lailani Cook, the new executive director is already settling making some changes. Lindsay and her family will be leaving Alaska next spring.

“This was will be the first time for me being a full-time, stay-at home mom,” said the 36-year-old mother of two. Lindsay will have one more play to direct before she’s gone, but wanted to start now with peeling away a bulk of the responsibility she has carried for the past three years.

Lindsay came to Alaska with a lot of teaching experience from her time in Texas, and in cities like Detroit and New Orleans. But she remembers each of the kids she has taught, including those who have come through the program at AFAA — about 100 in total. She said with social media it’s easy to keep track of “her kids.”

“Oh yeah, I remember them all. I think as a teacher, that’s just a teacher thing,” she said.

Lindsay said what she loves most about teaching is, “Having the kids in more than one play, and seeing the growth, interacting with the parents and building a community.”

From her beginnings in school plays as a kid and then later earning degrees in music education, vocal and theater, as well as stage management and technical design, she brings a lot to her students.

For the rest of 2016, AFAA will bring “Cinderella,” “Clue,” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” along with many other classes and programs.

Fine out more about AFAA at www.akfinearts.org. 

Suzanne Ashe can be reached at suzanne.ashe@alaskastar.com.

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