Barry Hamlin, a native of Porterville who has theater experience across the state, has been selected as the new managing director of the Visalia Fox Theatre. He has a lot of ideas for the Fox.
“The Finish the Fox program has its sights on several projects involving the audio and lighting systems, which will help insure the future of the theater downtown,” Hamlin said. “We currently must rent systems and generators to present shows here. This is an additional cost which limits our ability to bring a lot of popular artists to Visalia.”
He is also working towards allowing season ticket holders to have their own seats for the whole season, and he is dealing with attracting more volunteers and revising the theater’s fee structure.
“Our volunteer support group has dissolved over the last year,” Hamlin said. “We hope to reconstitute this support group and get more of our community directly involved with their theater. And we are reviewing our fee schedule and working to be more accessible to community groups who wish to perform on a professional stage.”
Hamlin also wants to continue and grow the Independent Film Series that former manager Paul Fry began after Regal Theaters discontinued their series.
“We feel that there are a lot of people appreciative of independent films and see the value in the quality stories and acting found only in these films,” he said.
But it is expensive to rent and show the films. Right now, the Fox has to rent a projector each time they show a film. The Visalia Heritage Society has given them a grant to buy a quality used LCD projector that will be on hand for the March film. The current plan is to show a film once a month, usually on the third Thursday.
Hamlin was raised in Porterville, where he was involved in the public schools’ music program and where, he says, his love of music and the arts flourished. He was a music major at Bakersfield College and eventually transferred to Fresno State, where he became involved with event production. While at Fresno State, he worked with local production companies and was able to do some short tours with Donnie and Marie Osmond, as well as with Frank Sinatra.
He relocated to southern California and accepted a position at the Orange County Performing Arts Center as a technical lead. While there, he worked with Rudolf Nureyev, mounting the Paris Opera Ballet’s presentation of “Cinderella,” as well as Mikhail Baryshnikov’s world premiere of “Swan Lake.” The center also presented national tours of many Broadway plays including “Cats,” “Rent,” “Cabaret,” “The Sound of Music” and “Phantom of the Opera.”
He left OCPAC to open the Poway Center for the Performing Arts as its technical director. While he was there, the center presented Johnny Cash, Mel Torme, the Smothers Brothers and many others.
In 2000, he moved up the coast to Arroyo Grande and assumed the responsibility of completing and opening the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. He helped the center develop outreach programs at no cost to the students of the area. The center also hosted national acts like Colbie Caillat, Rhonda Vincent and Peter Yarrow.
Hamlin recently returned to the area and lives in Three Rivers.