Ginger Poole, the producing artistic director of Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT), has decided to retire from her role after 18 years of service. Poole, who is credited with reviving the theatre twice from financial and pandemic crises, will leave the theatre in good shape and celebrate its 60th anniversary season.
A remarkable tenure with MMT
Poole joined MMT in 2006 as an actor and choreographer, and later became the director of education in 2008. She was the only full-time employee who stayed with the theatre when it nearly closed its doors for good in 2009 due to financial struggles. She took over as the producing artistic director, becoming the first woman to hold this position, and reinvigorated the theatre with classes and holiday shows for four years.
Under her leadership, MMT regained its artistic and financial health, producing high-quality shows and attracting audiences and donors. Poole also expanded the theatre’s education and outreach programs, creating opportunities for young and diverse artists and audiences.
Navigating through challenges and successes
Poole faced another challenge in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the theatre to shut down its productions and operations. Poole gracefully navigated the theatre through the post-pandemic struggles, securing grants and donations, and adapting to online and outdoor performances. She also implemented a “Season of Song” strategy in 2023, consisting only of musicals, which proved to be a successful comeback for the theatre.
The most recent production, “Elf, The Musical”, surpassed the record for ticket sales previously set by “The Sound of Music” to become the top-grossing show in MMT’s history. Poole said that the show sold more than $200,000 in tickets, representing a triumphant culmination of her efforts.
Leaving the theatre in terrific shape
Poole announced her plans to retire from her role on Monday, saying that she felt that this was the right time to pass the baton to the next person. She said that the theatre is financially and artistically healthy, and has a fantastic staff and board of directors. She also said that she is confident that the theatre will continue to thrive and serve the community.
The board of MMT has formed a search committee to find the best candidate for Poole’s replacement. The committee consists of an accomplished group of past board officers and presidents, who have worked closely with Poole and understand what it takes to maintain the level of excellence she has established. Cynthia Lawrence, a past president of MMT and the chair of the search committee, said that Poole is at the top of her craft and has left the theatre in terrific shape. She also said that they will conduct a thorough national search and will be very thoughtful about who they choose as her successor.
Poole said that she will assist with the search process and hopes to have time to work with the new director before departing for good. She also said that she is grateful for the opportunity to work with MMT and that the theatre will always be a part of who she is.