Charlotte Carroll takes center stage in promoting community theater
If the show biz bug bites some people, then Charlotte Carroll must have tangled with a whole hive. When she was in a seventh grade talent show, Carroll says, "I got up and sang my little song, heard the applause, and there was no turning back." That little song led to performances in high school, an apprenticeship at a semi-professional theater, and - 30 years later - her first movie role, a small speaking part in this year's "Limbo," which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
But aside from being a self-described "ham," Carroll is also a vital part of Alaska's community theater movement. As Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Juneau Douglas Little Theatre, she is intimately involved in every aspect of the Theatre's mission, which is "to create theater, which stimulates dialogue within the community, and to develop artists and audiences for the performing arts."
To this end, Carroll acts, directs, and will even produce a show during the coming season, the Theatre's fortieth. While the Theatre receives funding from both the State of Alaska and ticket sales, Carroll says financing the Theatre is always a struggle. That's why, as chair of the fundraising committee, Carroll is involved in coordinating program ad sales, putting on Cabaret events and engaging in other fundraising efforts. "When all else fails," she laughs, "we beg, plead and cajole."
All told, Carroll has volunteered thousands of hours for the performing arts. She is past president of the Alaska Community Theatre Festival, a biannual event that draws participants from around the state. Those productions compete against one another to move on to regional, national and international festivals. (The Juneau Douglas Little Theatre's production of "Nunsense," in which Carroll played the Reverend Mother, took first place in international competition in Nova Scotia in 1992.) Carroll also directs for Juneau's local opera company, and has most recently played the wicked stepmother in Roger and Hammerstein's "Cinderella."
Carroll sees community theater as a great social equalizer. "You could have the shoe clerk from down the street with a huge leading role, and you can have the president of the local bank who has a one line walk-on," she exhorts. "Nobody cares, as long as you're there 100% and doing your job."
Although Carroll has a lovely family life with her husband, Steve Irwin, her two stepsons, their wives, and her "remarkably outstanding four-year-old grandson, Andrew," those she has met through her community theater work are also important to her. "I have met so many caring, generous, talented and slightly crazy people. It's like having another family - what a gift."