FOST Names New Artistic/Development Director
The Friends of the State Theatre (FOST), a non-profit volunteer organization committed to preserving and revitalizing Stoughton's historic State Theatre announces the appointment of Michael La Fleur of Las Vegas, NV as Artistic/Development Director, launching FOST's mission to restore the Theatre, and provide enriching cultural experiences in dance, music, theatrical performances, visual art, literary readings and film events to the region.
For the past several years, the all-volunteer FOST has made significant progress towards reopening the facility. Projects including a feasibility study, the application and approval of status as a non-profit corporation, and efforts to raise awareness for FOST's mission have allowed the organization to raise important funds. Under La Fleur's direction, the organization plans to actively restore the theatre as a vital organization to the Stoughton community.
Founded in 1927, the State Theatre's history began as an incredible edifice, noted for its granite façade, grand proscenium stage, an Estey pipe organ and ornate décor. For the 1920's, it was a modern masterpiece of architecture. According to historical records, the State Theatre presented daily moving pictures and vaudeville performances, making it one of the finest amusement facilities in the region.
"The arts are one of the most, vital components of any community," says La Fleur. "Arts provide us with the mirrors in which we see our culture and ourselves, opening doors to communicate our beliefs, our flaws and our dreams. I see the State Theatre as far more than a "stage", a place to present entertainment. It is our ambition, to create one of the nation's most respected venues for performing and creative arts education."
In his new position, La Fleur will oversee several aspects of the revitalization. He'll be charged with implementing FOST's organizational and strategic plan, including raising funds to restore the institution to its original grandeur as a centerpiece of culture, and boost the regional economy by creating new jobs and entertainment revenues as a multidisciplinary arts center. By creating a new cultural destination, the State Theatre aspires to attract residents and tourists from the region, thus stimulating the regional economy through the arts. La Fleur will be the driving force to raising visibility for the organization, allowing FOST to achieve its original vision to fruition.
A revered director, choreographer and established entertainment consultant, Michael La Fleur has a long list of achievement and accolades in the industry nationwide and abroad. He has served legendary Broadway directors, producers and performing artists for decades, including actor Burt Reynolds, Director Joshua Logan and recording artists Sarah Brightman and Celine Dion, and has worked with an impressive list of legendary celebrities that includes Ethel Merman, Dick Van Dyke, Alan Arkin, Marilu Henner, Charles Nelson Reilly, and many more. He previously served the world-renowned Walt Disney Company and subsidiaries as an Imagineer in the US and Japan, originating record-breaking stage productions, and contributing to major television shows and special events. La Fleur also created Universal Studios legendary productions of The Wild, Wild, Wild West Stunt Show and Beetlejuice's Rock & Roll Graveyard Revue, raising the bar for theme park entertainment worldwide, receiving praise as best themed shows in history. He also created The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and served as one of the creative directors Islands of Adventure and several of his show creations. Off-Broadway and in regional theatre, he has made an indelible mark in critically acclaimed theatrical productions, musicals, outdoor festivals and corporate. His creative work on "The Glow-In-The-Park Parade", has been seen by millions, and continues to draw ecstatic crowds to Six Flags Parks around the world. He most recently completed a two-year role in Asia, serving as Artistic Director for Resorts World Sentosa, where he created and staged the multi-million dollar hit productions, "Voyage De La Vie" and "The Lightseeker". Both shows featured celebrated performers, circus acrobats and musicians from around the world, and starred leading players from London's West End.
As a theatre arts educator, La Fleur has served as Professor of Theatre for Florida State University, Co-Director of the renowned Asolo Theatre Conservatory, Co-Director of Burt Reynolds' Institute for Theatre Training, and is in demand for his informative performance and audition workshops by major entertainment and educational venues. While residing in Las Vegas, he served as Artistic Coordinator for Celine Dion during the creation of her spectacular, "A New Day" at Caesar's Palace. He continues to create scripts and show concepts for notable organizations including Universal Studios, Genting, and The Hard Rock Cafe. His work is visibly represented in Las Vegas through productions at The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, the New York, New York Hotel and Casino, and a co-production with Cirque Du Soleil.
Excited for a new project in New England, La Fleur has already begun networking and brainstorming his vision for the theatre. "We'll bring in some brilliant stars, producers, designers, choreographers and creative experts from Broadway and Hollywood, wonderful people who I have had the honor of collaborating with throughout my career. They'll conduct classes, workshops and intensives for aspiring arts professionals of all ages and experience levels. That's just the beginning!"
"We couldn't be more pleased to bring Michael on board," says John Stagnone, FOST President, "Having the resources of Michael's experience and talent to preserve this magnificent historic atmospheric theatre for the region and beyond to enjoy is exciting. He will start-up the business, plan performances, community events, educational classes and develop partnerships with local businesses, civic and educational groups. It is only through our collective efforts that we can ensure a successful, sustainable long-term plan for the theatre, with the ultimate goal of enriching the cultural fabric and economic vitality of our community. The theatre will serve as a hub for learning and the arts, as well as an economic impetus for the Town of Stoughton and the region."
The theatre's rich history makes the space uniquely appealing to performers and visitors alike. "We look forward to bring exciting special events to the town of Stoughton and neighboring communities. Outdoors festivals, Shakespeare, holiday spectaculars, arts and crafts fairs, the possibilities are endless, all geared toward making our community a destination for culture and entertainment," shares La Fleur. "We're on a mission to open the doors to growth, development and the rejuvenation of our wonderful community."