Along with forming the StageWorks Inc. theater company with her family in 2005, the Cartersville resident also has been involved with The Pumphouse Players and is a former executive director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Cartersville-Bartow County.
"Arts organizations are constantly changing and the ones in Bartow County are no exception," McCrary said. "The change brings in new people with new ideas and over the past 10 years, the arts in Bartow County have continued to grow and be an important part of the culture of our county.
"I have always felt -- and it's part of the mission statement for StageWorks -- that the arts are the heart and soul of the community. I think it's important to have this rich layer of creativity, talent and artistic expression available. It's an outlet for those who have a talent to share and a treasure for those who enjoy their efforts."
Name: Leslie McCrary
City of residence: Cartersville
Family: My daughter, Morgan, lives and works in Cartersville. My parents also live in Cartersville.
Occupation/community involvement: Producing artistic director for StageWorks, a nonprofit theater company.
When and why did you feel led to form StageWorks Inc.? What are your short-term and long-term goals for this theater group?
A: I had been involved with Pumphouse Players beginning in 2002 where I directed eight plays in five years. I was also theater operations director for a while. My late husband, Dale, also was involved being on the board and was technical director during that time. Don Kordecki had always been a mentor and encouraged us to try something on our own. We had always wanted to do something together, so we did a little research and decided that the community could support another theater group and in December of 2005, along with our daughter, Morgan, we launched StageWorks.
We have done 14 shows, including main stage shows at The Grand and have recently been doing Shakespeare in the amphitheater at the Clarence Brown Conference Center. We also do the Oak Hill Cemetery show each fall for the Bartow History [Museum] and have done character portrayals for the Booth Western Art Museum. We plan to continue doing all of this including our next show, "Foxfire," at The Grand and Shakespeare outdoors at the Brown Center.
When did your involvement in theater productions begin? What do you enjoy most about it and what is it like sharing that interest with your daughter Morgan?
A: My interest in theater was in set decoration when I was in school. It wasn't until my daughter landed the role of Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" that I began to get interested again. I enjoy the process from the first audition to the final curtain. Since theater has been the career direction my daughter has taken, it's something we both love that we can share. We make all the decisions for StageWorks together.
Describe your current/past connection with the Cultural Arts Alliance of Cartersville-Bartow County Inc. and explain how it benefits the arts community.
A: I am the past executive director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Cartersville-Bartow County. Prior to that, I was on the board for over 10 years. The CAA serves as the focal point of arts programming in the county. It [gives] people like me who are running nonprofit organizations a chance to get together and work to bring arts to everyone who is interested.
How can Bartow's arts community grow in the future and how can its theaters/community theater groups continue to thrive and operate during the sluggish economy?
A: The arts can't survive without support of the community. Because the things we do provide a service ... whether it's a play, concert, dance or cultural activity ... we depend on people to attend. Even though economic times have been tough on the arts organizations, we are surviving and will continue to bring great creative activities to the community. We are fortunate that the city and county recognize the importance of arts programming and support us.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
A: Appreciates each day
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
A: I'm really very shy. The outgoing nature is a learned skill. I guess that makes me the best actress of all.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
A: When it stops being fun, don't do it anymore. So far, theater has been wonderful. I have met people who have become friends for life and have a second family in the theater. It's a lot of hard work, but it's a true labor of love. We have a good time ... and when it stops being fun, I'll stop doing theater.
What is your favorite meal or Bartow County restaurant?
A: All of the Bartow County restaurants are good, but I especially like Moore's Market, The Cellar and Swheat Market. Not only do they have great food and wonderful staff, they allow us to hang posters for our upcoming shows in their windows. Every little bit of publicity helps.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I have recently purchased an SLR digital camera and joined the Booth Photography Guild. I am also a writer and watercolor artist.
Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?
A: Bartow County offers a lot of great places, but I think my most favorite place to be is in the back of a theater watching actors perform a show I have directed. It's a thrill like no other.