Situated on Summerville's sleepy Main Street in the historic James F. Dean Community Theatre, the Flowertown Players have always been an intensely community-oriented company. Local actors make up the cast in many of the shows, donors are listed on several pages in the back of shows' bulletins, reading like a who's who of Summerville residents, and the Players make sure to call up loyal subscribers when considering a new play that might offend.
Flowertown's new artisitic director, Miami-born Sean Lakey, embraces that sense of community — but don't be surprised if he shakes things up a bit as well.
After growing up mostly in the mountains of N.C., Sean, 30, earned his acting degree at Western Carolina University. After graduating, he and his wife Michelle (who occasionally volunteers at Flowertown) lived the gypsy life for several years, working in various theatres in Asheville, N.C., Phoenix, Wisconsin, and Colorado. But after awhile, that lifestyle started to wear thin and Sean found a job listing online: the small-town Flowertown Players were looking for a technical director. He got the job and moved South, where his only gripe is with the hot summers. "It's like Phoenix, except instead of sticking your head in a hot oven, it's like sticking your head in a bathtub of hot water."
After a year as TD, the Board of Visitors promoted him to artistic director, which leaves him responsible for maintaining a level of quality throughout all the company's productions. "My primary function is to make the place a fun, friendly place where everyone and anyone can come together and put on a show," Sean says.
Sean's currently working on his second production as artistic director, Of Mice and Men (his first was the recently-concluded comedy Dèjá Vu). He promises lots of "bells and whistles" for the production, including some live music and an actor who, according to Sean, "is quite possibly the cutest sheepdog you ever did see." Besides this next production, Flowertown plans to add a second season of shows to the 2008/2009 season, featuring more experimental, modern plays than the mainstage shows. Guess who pitched that idea to the conservative board? Sean admits it's a big step for Flowertown, but says that everyone at the company agrees it's in the right direction. —Erica Jackson