Jamie Salter, Exectutive Director VLA
Introducing the new Executive Director, Jami Salter! A Texas native, Jami credits her love for theatre to her grandmother, Mike Newton, who took her to her first show when she was 10. Her passion for the arts led her to focus on theatre performance at Baylor. Her favorite acting experience, she played Jill in Jack & Jill, alongside Derek Phillips from Longmire and Friday Night Lights. After graduating, Jami’s love for theater propelled her into a 15-year career as a theatre teacher with KISD.
A young actress reads a book as she gets ready to perform. (Contributed Photo)
With a background in costume design, she quickly became an asset at Vive Les Arts Theatre under then Executive Director, Eric Shephard. As a patron and volunteer, she fell in love with the local community and family at VLA. When the Executive Director position was vacated in 2019, Jami leapt at the opportunity, even asking the Board of Directors if she could come on sooner than her official start date. Her goal: to modernize the theater by bringing in newer, more recent works while constantly striving to increase the quality of performances. A true community theater, the future holds a steady stream of shows that are as diverse and energetic as the local community that the theater supports.
Actors young and adult perform in the VLA production of “Matilda.” (Contributed Photo)
Another priority for the new Executive Director is providing educational opportunities outside of scheduled shows. While shows are free of charge for cast and are highly educational for both aspiring and regular actors, the theatre is now offering several other recurring classes and events. The theatre is holding an acting class this fall semester for high school students. The 4-month, 12 lesson semester run from September to December and is taught by the Executive Director. Additionally, a donation only tap class is offered most Tuesday evenings. Audition workshops are scheduled for most of the upcoming productions. These workshops serve as a way for actors to hone their craft and prepare for the upcoming audition.
The need for the arts never changes. It provides an opportunity for education, a source of safety, and a place for the local community to come together. While the need for the arts is always present, the times do change. Vive Les Arts Theatre is constantly working to improve and adapt to provide the best quality experience for its ever-growing audience. A priority for the new Executive Director, Jami Salter, ensuring the theater and its productions appeal to a wide range of patrons is vital. Building on a lengthy history of serving Killeen, Vive Les Arts is constantly bringing in new talent from nearby cities like Waco and Georgetown, while the military presence at Fort Hood continually provides new faces at the theater.
Actors perform in the VLA production of “Matilda.” (Contributed Photo)
The theater has grown drastically in the past few months, despite the inevitable complications of the COVID pandemic. Jami said that early in 2020, the theater barely had enough people audition to cover the minimum casting requirements. The last three shows the theater has produced have shown a trend in the opposite direction. Over 150 children auditioned for Beauty and the Beast Jr. in February. Over 70 people auditioned for Matilda and the smaller-cast Into the Woods. Audition slots for Annie Jr. were filled days in advance.
The recent quality of performances has directly impacted both attendance and participation at the theatre. Despite the limitations of COVID, including a brief shut down, a 50% limit on occupancy, and both masked and distanced shows and rehearsals, the productions at VLA are chang- ing. Jami Salter says her focus is to “continue moving the theatre in a new direction.” One focused on bringing bigger productions that are “newer and more modern.” In addition to this new flavor, the theatre still ensures several shows each season are family friendly, as well as providing opportunities for shows with a cast that is 18 and under. VLA is truly a community theatre and thus provides offerings for all ages and theatrical tastes.