Stage & Dance

Woodford Theatre chief resigns after 15 months on job

Steven J. Arnold resigned as artistic and executive director of The Woodford Theatre in Versailles.
Steven J. Arnold resigned as artistic and executive director of The Woodford Theatre in Versailles. Lexington Herald-Leader

After barely a year on the job, Steven J. Arnold has left his post as executive and artistic director of The Woodford Theatre in Versailles.

"Steve submitted his resignation, effective Oct. 24, and we have accepted it, and we will miss him," said Anita Britton, president of the theater's board of directors. "We understand and respect his decision, and we have begun a search for our next executive and artistic director."

Contacted via email, Arnold wrote, "Under the terms of my departure, I am unable to make any statements about it."

Arnold came to The Woodford Theatre in July 2011 from Church Hill Theatre in Church Hill, Md., after a national search. He succeeded Beth Kirchner, who retired after making Woodford one of Central Kentucky's preeminent community theaters during her 16-year tenure.

Arnold oversaw the theater in the 2011-12 season, and he directed productions of Almost, Maine and Smoke on the Mountain. He selected the current season, which opened in September with the musical Lucky Stiff, which he directed. The season continues in November and December with The Christmas Foundling, directed by Adam Luckey.

"Steve did a nice job," Britton said. "We had a great success with our most recent production, and he accomplished some very good things for us. He led a redesign of our theater Web site, which was sorely needed, and we're now able to sell tickets online. We've done some renovations of the theater space to make it more productive in its use, and he accomplished some good things for us."

Asked whether there was anything the board was not happy with in Arnold's performance, Britton said, "We're talking about personnel matters, and I'm not going to travel down that road."

Arnold said he will move to the Cleveland area, where much of his family lives, in mid-November.

"It has an excellent theater community and has some of the best professional and community theaters in the nation," Arnold said of Cleveland. "I already have some offers as a freelance actor and director there, but right now it is all in the timing with the move and getting settled, so I have not committed to anything yet."

Britton said business manager Kathy Lawson is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the theater, which is in the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center in Versailles. She said a search committee has been formed to look for a permanent artistic and executive director, and she doesn't know whether the search will be a national or local. She said the theater might appoint an interim director.

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