Wintergreen Resort – A spring day at the end of snow season is an odd time to spot a man riding a ski lift. But Brian Clowdus is a theatre man doing theatre things and Wintergreen Resort is about to become a stage.
“100% for me, theatre comes to life in the place it’s meant to be performed, like Sleepy Hollow in an actual covered bridge, Christmas Carol in a Victorian House, etc. etc.. And for Wintergreen, the hills will be alive with something.”
We’re chatting by text (it’s the only way Brian and I could get our schedules to match) and after the “hills will be alive” comment, he inserts the eye wink emoji. 😉
You see, Brian is known nationally as a Site Specific Theater Producer and part of that job is honoring confidentiality clauses in contracts while at the same time drumming up press for upcoming shows. If we were having this interview at The Edge, I could at least try to tease this big secret out of him with an après ski beverage, or maybe a sweet tea because this boy’s from Alabama (even though he’s currently on a work trip in New York City). So back to the nuts and bolts of being a Site Specific Theater Producer.
“I go into really cool environments and choose shows that make sense naturally in the location. So for Wintergreen it’s the breathtaking mountains and valleys. Producing in September, there will be no snow but audiences will have to ride a skit lift to get to the show. That is a first for me, but freaking cool, right?”
Totally freaking cool. Bring the kids-freaking-cool. The whole family-is-invited-freaking-cool. Brian’s production coincides with a rebranding effort underway on the mountain by what used to be Wintergreen Performing Arts, now known as Wintergreen Music. It’s annual summer music festival is also getting a reboot with a schedule that features events such as “Fresh Perspectives” on Wednesdays and “Fiery Fridays” two days later. Sunday’s Coffee & Kids is now “Social Sundays,” a series of family-friendly concerts. And though the event Brian is putting together for September is separate from Wintergreen Music, it is clear the Resort is embracing family-centric events when the snow guns are getting a rest.
After all, it was as a young child in Alabama that Brian was first bitten by the theatre bug.
“Mr. McGregor in Peter Rabbit in Kindergarten!,” Brian beams as you do in a text. “Even then I was seeing the potential of environmental theatre.”
Fast forward to 2019 and the timing feels right. With the explosion in popularity of Hamilton, I ask Brian if he thinks musicals are having a moment.
“I think reinvented art is having it’s moment,” he counters. “Hamilton is successful because it’s not your typical musical and it’s bringing in a new audience. This is what I do: I reinvent things and put them in locations that blow people away. This may be a classical musical everyone knows but I promise you they have never seen it or experienced it the way they will at Wintergreen Resort. Where else can you actually sit on the side of a mountain watching the sun set with a Broadway musical happening all around you?”
And come May, we should officially know how alive these hills are about to get.
– Yvette Stafford