Former “Andy’s Kid” makes good in New York

  • Sarah McLellan, a former summer resident of Dublin, has been hired as the new Executive Director of the Manhattan-based Ensemble Studio Theatre.  —Courtesy photo by Jean Andzulis

  • Sarah McLellan. COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, March 14, 2018 6:29PM

As a child performing with Andy’s Summer Playhouse, Sarah McLellan already knew she was heading for a career connected to the stage.

“I was certainly one of those young people that knew right away, pretty much as soon as I could formulate sentences, that this is what I wanted to do with my life, which I thought was pretty normal – later I realized it’s not that common to know what you want to do pretty much as soon as you can form thoughts,” said McLellan in an interview Monday.

McLellan spent her summers as a child in Dublin, and though she now lives in Brooklyn, New York, she still considers Jaffrey, where her mother and brother still live as “home”. 

Andy’s, a children’s theater company based in Wilton, was one of her first exposures to the theater, when her mother took her to a show one year. 

“I was spellbound, and in love at first sight,” she said. She was immediately interested in being an “Andy’s kid” as the participants of the summer productions are often called.

Like most young people with a fascination with theater, said McLellan, she was first convinced that she would be an actor. But in college, she was recruited into a producing program, and fell in love.

“I like bossing people around,” said McLellan. “Which you’re allowed to do if you’re producing. If you’re an actor and you’re bossing everyone around, that’s usually not OK.”

Earlier this month, McLellan was hired by the Manhattan-based Ensemble Studio Theatre as their executive director. She is moving from her prior theater company, Clubbed Thumb, to take the role as of March 5.

“We are also ready to embrace this opportunity for change and feel so lucky to have found Sarah McLellan, who will be bringing a new generation of leadership to EST,” said EST Artistic Director William Carden. “In managing another theatre for the last four years she has proved herself to be an inspired advocate and leader who shares our passion for developing artists and new work”

Both Clubbed Thumb and EST, McLellan said, are companies that have a focus on producing shows by emerging playwrights and play development. 

And on pushing boundaries.

“It gives them a space to do things they might otherwise not be able to,” said McLellan. “It provides support and resources that really work for artists that are pushing themselves.”

She said that the theater is focused on providing opportunities for writers to develop their voices, and give space for them to be “weird, or even uncomfortable and awkward.”

“If it’s not making you nervous, why are you doing it?” said McLellan. “Well, at least to an extent.”

Sometimes, a play will catch on and find synergy with a larger audience. EST premiered “Hand to God,” a comedy by Robert Askins, which went on to be a Broadway hit and nominated for five Tony awards.

“That can happen, and it’s great when it happens,” said McLellan. “But the point is more to give our artists the best experience that we can give them. When it comes to things like weighing commercial viability versus something like ‘just how weird is this,’ that’s something we have to worry less about.”