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The man behind the curtain

todayMay 23, 2024 3

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Premiere Playhouse is preparing to wrap up season 21 with “Hair” next month at the Orpheum Theater in downtown Sioux Falls.

The season officially started last September, but the local theater group is active year-round.

Behind the scenes of every show The Premiere Playhouse performs is Oliver Mayes.

“What’s really cool about working in a community based theater is you’re working with like-minded people who want to be creative and who are curious and want to learn,” The Premiere Playhouse Managing Artistic Director Oliver Mayes said.

Mayes grew up in Portland, Oregon, where he fell in love with acting long before setting foot in a theater.

“I think early on I was introduced to it in a variety of ways through church and school and things of that sort, and I noticed that I was funny, people liked when I performed essentially, and I kind of liked the concept of creating something,” Mayes said.

After earning his Master of Fine Arts at the University of South Dakota, Mayes moved back to Portland. He was doing freelance work when an opportunity to direct Cabaret arose at The Premiere Playhouse.

“They brought me out here to direct that show, and that’s about the time my predecessor was leaving and so I assumed the role after that and kind of just got lucky to be able to do what I love in a city that I love,” Mayes said.

Mayes is Managing Artistic Director and a man of many hats.

“It’s my responsibility to provide overall management for all functional areas of the organization, so that includes artistic and production, administration, operations, finance, marketing, development, and fundraising,” Mayes said.

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“I work with Oliver basically on every task that I do in the company in general,” Production Specialist & Education Coordinator Alex Newcomb Weiland said.

Alex Newcomb Weiland is production specialist and education coordinator for The Premiere Playhouse.

“We collaborate on classes and titles for educational shows. We collaborate on tech schedules, rehearsal schedules, documentation, kinds of anything in that realm of the production sphere as well,” Newcomb Weiland said.

She says Mayes is an ideas guy who encourages independence.

“He’s someone who gives you the tools that you need to succeed and the support that you need, but he also gives you the freedom to discover how to learn how to do it,” Newcomb Weiland said.

“It’s my job to manage the best ideas, so I’m going to come in with my concept, the vision I want to do, work with different artists of their specialties to bring that vision together and I think it’s just really important to hear everyone’s perspectives,” Mayes said.

“I think the theater is just a place that’s always brought me joy and happiness,” actor and volunteer Audrey Simmons said.

Audrey Simmons is an actor and volunteer, working on-stage and behind-the-scenes after a ten-year absence from the theater.

“The Premiere Playhouse was so welcoming and so encouraging, and I felt so supported by Oliver and all the people here that it really is kind of become like a second home for me which sounds really cheesy to say, but working with Oliver I just feel comfortable,” Simmons said.

While also nudging her to step outside her comfort zone.

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“He pushes me in a way that’s really encouraging and makes me think about the choices that I’m making on stage, so I’ve grown and learned with him through this process,” Simmons said.

The Premiere Playhouse has nine shows throughout the course of the year, but also offers camps and classes for actors of all ages and skill levels.

“We do have our community-based classes which are all free or low cost classes for a variety of ages,” Mayes said. “We’re about to do Shakespeare, stage combat, acting, musical theater, choreography, the works, so we’re really excited for continuing that program and to see the enrollment continue to climb,” Mayes added.

And teaching in the theater is an important part of Mayes’ plan.

“My ultimate goal is to be running a full blown theatrical, educational facility and so being at The Premiere Playhouse is not only a dream come true but a stepping stone toward that ultimate goal,” Mayes said.

“He has an objective. His big word is objective, he has an objective, he will achieve it, he will make it happen no matter what it is, no challenge is too scary for him,” Newcomb Weiland said.

And it will all play out on stage.

Mayes and The Premiere Playhouse present “Hair” June 13th through the 23rd at the Orpheum Theater.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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