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Curtain rises on new director

Staff Writer | April 16, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - After three weeks on the job as executive artistic director of the Lake City Playhouse, George Green is often asked this question: "How do you feel?" His answer? "I feel great."

COEUR d'ALENE - After three weeks on the job as executive artistic director of the Lake City Playhouse, George Green is often asked this question:

"How do you feel?"

His answer?

"I feel great."

When the 38-year-old accepted the job, he knew well of the theater's financial troubles and frequent fight for survival. But he also knew well of its 50-years as part of the community, its reputation for outstanding productions, and its role as a beloved part of Coeur d'Alene.

"I felt this was the challenge I wanted to take on," he said as he sat in his modest Playhouse office.

"I feel confident the community is going to see a very strong product next season, and they're going to see a very different momentum than they've seen in the past at Lake City."

Playhouse board member James Duram agrees.

He said Green's 30 years of theater experience, plus his business background, give him financial and artistic talents that are hard to find in one person.

"We're very excited to have all of that in one package," Duram said. "He brings a tremendous amount of energy to the position."

Green replaces Brian Doig, who led the Playhouse for four years. Doig is moving to the Las Vegas area with plans to pursue other interests and spend more time with his children.

Green's most recent post was development director at the Spokane Civic Theater.

"I felt I had done everything I could do at that organization in three years," he said.

Change is coming

Green said there will be some changes at the Playhouse.

One big change will be that it will no longer produce a children's show.

"I know that's going to kind of raise some eyebrows at first," Green said. "I felt we needed to offer more to the adult theater patron."

He pointed to the Christian Youth Theater, Ain't It Good Productions and summer camps available to kids as other opportunities in the area.

"There's a lot of activity going on for children in the theater environment," he said.

The Playhouse has added a show for next season's lineup, meaning it will have eight productions. The shows will run three to four weeks.

"It's going to be a whirlwind to do," Green said. "But there will be plenty of opportunity for people to see theater."

He's already working on fundraisers, with new opportunities for the public to give and get involved by being a show sponsor or join the "50 Year Foundation." There's also what's being billed as "Opening Night Owner," which is a change for a business to have 160 seats of the Thursday opener and have "exclusive right to view the production prior to the general public."

"There's no doubt that Lake City Playhouse has some urgent and immediate needs that we need to take care of, but I don't want the public to perceive that as a cry for help, as a 'Help us survive' mode. Because it's really not that."

Green believes the Playhouse can have a larger role in the community. Moving to a new venue might even be possible down the road.

"How can one organization that's the only game in town for full-time theater not have a packed house every night," he asked. "That's what I'm still trying to wrap my head around. I don't quite know what the answer is."

He knows there is the potential for improvement, but said it will take patience, trust and sound decisions both artistically and financially.

This is where he'll rely on his experience.

As director, he'll have to decide whether some shows will draw crowds or play to an half-filled theater.

"Is this really what's going to sell? Those are things I'm constantly having to weigh," he said.

Acting early

Green is originally from San Antonio.

He recalled that his first role was when he was just 4 years old in the preschool play.

"I was a young TV commercial announcer and I did 10 different commercials for Christmas," he said with a laugh. "That got me hooked."

He went on to do community and professional theater, and moved to the Inland Northwest in 1996.

Green served in the U.S. Air Force as a medic and physiologist, and has worked in radio and print media. He was also CEO for ViVo Publications Group.

In 2007 Green received the AACT National Award of Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Lee Harvey Oswald in "Assassins."

He has also played the role of McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," and George in "Of Mice and Men."

Green is a family man, too. He and his wife, Briane, have four daughters.

Duram said Green is the right man to guide the Playhouse into a financially stable future, and at the same time oversee production of premier plays and musicals and build solid community support.

"George sees this as a major challenge. He has some exceptional goals for the theater," Duram said. "What interested him was the opportunity, the opportunity and the challenge."

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