In The Moment: Sarah N. Schallern on Alden Theatre’s 2015-2016 Season

Perhaps out of the limelight to those beyond close-in Northern Virginia, the McLean Community Center is not only a “hub” of community activities but includes the wonderfully intimate, well-scheduled, 386-seat Alden Theatre as well.

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I wanted to learn more about how the Alden’s chocked-full 2015-16 professional performers schedule was developed. So I went to the source, Sarah N. Schallern, the Performing Arts Director. I quickly learned that putting the Alden season was way more than mere algorithms, big data or guess-work. It involved asking patrons what they might want for the season as well as attending talent showcase events to get to really know performers.

Sarah N. Schallern.
Performing Arts Director Sarah N. Schallern.

“We listen and respond to our audience members, said Schallern. “We have had many responses in our audience surveys that people want more theatre and comedy, so we’re giving it to them!

To give a taste of the new Alden season there is the renowned American Shakespeare Center on Tour with all three of their touring productions; Julius Caesar, The Importance of Being Earnest and Henry V;  the award-winning New York City Neofuturists who create immediate theater with the audience in a fast-paced evening with Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, as well as the hilarious juggling/comedy act Playing By Air  a wonder for the whole family and the adult, stand-up comedy of Emmy Award winners, Bruce Vilanch, and Judy Gold in Big and Tall.

But, wait, there is more noted Schallern. “We also have even more theatre for young audiences.” There will be performances Virginia Repertory Theatre’s Theatre IVs Sleeping Beauty, and kid-friendly A Christmas Carol, as well as Barter Theatre Players’ stage version of the beloved book A Wrinkle in Time, Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s gorgeous production of Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny, and Arts Power’s Chicken Dance about two feisty chicks taking on some ducks to show how to rock ’n’ roll.

When asked about any new ticketing policies and practices, Schallern noted, “We’ve also put together ticketing packages that not only offer big savings (20%) on tickets to multiple shows, but take the guesswork out of deciding which shows to attend. It’s kind of like a concierge service.

If someone enjoys the edgy humor of Bruce Vilanch, and Judy Gold, they might also like the hilarious all-male ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. We’ve put these two events together as one of our bundles to allow people to discover new acts we think they will enjoy without taking a big financial risk,” added Schallern.

There are also ticketing packages offered for the American Shakespeare Center on Tour for all three performances plus the “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” expert panel; a subscription to all three of the Alden’s silent films with live music accompaniment, and a John Eaton three-event package for his holiday concert at The Alden and two of his popular Jazz Masters seminars.

“We’ve been listening to what patrons say about our Box Office hours, and we’ve changed when the Box Office is open to make it easier for people to buy tickets in person. We’ll now be open at more convenient evening and weekend times: 4–8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and noon until 4 p.m. on Sundays,” noted Schallern. The box office is also be open one hour before any ticketed performance, and patrons can still buy tickets and select seats.

The McLean Community Center is locate at 1234 Ingleside Avenue, in  McLean, VA. There is free parking at the Alden, and McLean, VA is now served by the Metro’a Silver Live. There are many restaurants nearby and other attractions, including a community park. To learn more about Alden Theatre’s 2015-016 season, call the box office at (703) 790-9223, or visit their website.


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