On Stage: Serenbe Playhouse

Playhouse in Paradise

Since 2006, the Serenbe community has gently manicured a reputation for bucolic bliss. This summer, among the carrots and strawberries, the sleepy town of 200 is cultivating its own professional theater company.

But don’t expect the new Serenbe Playhouse to produce the theatrical equivalent of Fourth of July parades and hand-churned ice cream. Brian Clowdus—its ebullient, Alabama-born, Amherst College–educated director—has little interest in staging what he laughingly calls “the thirty-seventh revival” of Hello, Dolly! Instead, he is inaugurating the courtyard venue with the likes of John & Jen, a quirky two-person musical by Addams Family composer Andrew Lippa (through July 4), and Shakespeare’s R&J, the classic as read by four young guys at a Catholic boarding school (July 16 to 25).

“I want everyone to leave each piece thinking about something and not just thinking, ‘Oh, that was fun and I was entertained,’” says Clowdus, who has already impressed his employer, the Serenbe Institute for Art, Culture & the Environment, headed by former Woodruff Arts Center president and CEO Shelton G. Stanfill.

Image courtesy of Serenbe Playhouse