Perfect fit

Published 8:30 pm Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lindsey Duoos Williams settles into the Riverland directors chair, taking over Jerry Girton who recently retired - Eric Johnson/

Lindsey Duoos Williams settles into the RCC director’s chair

Lindsey Duoos Williams knows her way around a stage. She has loved the performing arts since she was a girl, when she saw shows at the Guthrie Theater and Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. She knows her way around a classroom, too, as she has taught in almost every job she has held.

She’ll soon know her way around Riverland Community College. She’s the new Riverland director.

“It’s the perfect fit for me,” Williams said. “It’s my dream job.”

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Though she grew up in Minneapolis, Williams moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was in high school, where she eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Theatre at the University of Southern California.

It seems she was destined for the classroom, as she worked for Performing Arts Workshops, a mobile theater troupe that brought theater classes and opportunities to Los Angeles schools that didn’t have performing arts programs.

“You learn a lot about yourself teaching others,” Williams said. “I’ve found the most fulfillment in this field, in teaching. There’s something wonderful about imparting knowledge to students, to watch them grow, to watch them improve.”

Williams obtained her master’s degree in musical theatre from San Diego State University in 2008 after several years of acting, producing and directing shows. She found her passion in directing shows more than anything, which fits her teaching preference. Coming to Riverland, Williams is impressed with how many theater opportunities students have here.

“You can come here your first semester and be in two productions,”

she said. “You don’t get that at a four-year institution.”

Now that Williams is back in Minnesota with her husband Sean E. Williams, a comic writer, she has a few ideas where she wants Riverland Theatre to go. Williams hopes to give budding playwrights a chance to see their work on stage. She also wants to bring in productions that haven’t been seen at Riverland before. That’s going to be tough, she said, as former director Jerry Girton brought many productions to Riverland. There’s going to be a few edgier productions and a few more multicultural shows, according to Williams.

“Maybe things people haven’t seen, but will really enjoy,” she said.

Williams wants to bring a little diversity into Riverland. She was nominated for a NAACP Theatre Award in 2007 for directing “The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin” at L.A.’s Pico Playhouse, and she hopes to get shows dealing with stories from around the world.

“It’s important to me to get stories and characters that reflect the diversity here at Riverland and here in Austin,” she said. “I would love to be able to present plays, musicals and works that reach out to those communities.”

There’s plenty of opportunities for students this year. Riverland’s season opens with “The Fantasticks,” in October. Considered the longest running musical in the world, “The Fantasticks,” centers on a boy and a girl falling in love in spite of a family feud.

“Be Aggressive,” will open in November, a play Williams describes as funny, if a bit edgy. It’s recommended for ages 14 and up.

“It sort of skewers that southern California culture everyone sees on TV,” Williams said.

The second semester will bring “Ring Round the Moon” to Riverland, a smart comedy about twin brothers in a social ball in France in the ‘50s. Williams describes it as a nice, light, fun show.

The last piece of the season is April’s “Rent,” the modern day classic about artists struggling to survive.

“I’ve been a huge fan of that show ever since it opened on Broadway,” Williams said. “It’s one of my all-time favorites.”

Though Williams is a new addition to Riverland’s Theatre department, it doesn’t mean things will change drastically.
There will still be fun times and lots of show tunes, if the recent Riverland Theatre Open House shows anything. And students will still have plenty of opportunities to walk the boards.

“It’s so important for students who are studying theater … to be involved in productions,” Williams said. “What struck me about this program is there’s so many opportunities for students to just do theater.”