Wayside director Crocker resigns

By Josette Keelor

Warner Crocker has resigned as artistic director of Wayside Theater.

Crocker, who has directed productions at Wayside since 1999, said Friday that he gave the theater’s board of directors his resignation this week.

“Seven years is the average lifespan of an artistic director,” Crocker said. “I’ve been here for 15 years, and I think it’s just time to move on.”

Indicating the theater’s continued financial strains as a motivator, he added, “I think maybe Wayside Theatre needs another voice.”

The theater has, in recent years, been plagued by financial problems, particularly when in 2007 it renovated the historic building at 7853 Main St., Middletown, and then later when the economy took a turn for the worse.

In January, the board of directors announced the theater would have to consider closing its doors if it could not raise $90,000 in 90 days and be assured of making enough to keep the theater going throughout the 2013-14 season.

As a result of the theater’s efforts, as well as community reaction, fundraisers and donations, Wayside reached its $90,000 goal by the end of March and announced its plans for another season.

The 2013 season started June 1 with “Church Basement Ladies,” which ends Sunday.

Crocker said his last day will be July 14, opening night of the production “Boeing Boeing.”

Dr. Byron Brill, president of the theater’s board of directors, noted in an email Friday evening that “The Board wishes to thank Warner for his fifteen years of service to Wayside and extend our best wishes to him in all future endeavors. We look forward to the continuance of a successful 52nd season and toward that end, Warner will be serving as Guest Director of “Boeing, Boeing” which will premiere on July 14th.”

Brill added, “Two major initiatives recently begun under Warner’s tenure are particularly significant with respect to positive change. One is the recent hiring of Joyce Kernodle as Marketing and Sales Director and the second is the purchase of the online Vendini ticketing system. As we move forward, we look to your continued patronage and support and extend our warmest thanks to the Wayside Theatre community.”

In a 2001 interview, Crocker said he saw Wayside making a growing impact on the community. It’s something he has continued to say is important to him and the theater.

“I’ve been touched as I see the impact Wayside has on people,” he said in 2001.

“Whether you’re a kid who interns with us to find meaningful activity, a dramatic arts student who dreams of hitting the big screen someday, or a busy person who needs a night’s vacation, people are moved by their experience with Wayside. And that’s what it’s all about.”

Contact Wayside Theatre at 540-869-1776 or at www.waysidetheatre.org.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com>