Magic Valley residents enjoy many offerings of local arts, music, and theatrical productions. Anyone who has attended – or participated in – one of Magic Valley’s local musical theater productions, has likely seen a show directed by Lori Henson.
Lori has always loved the stage, majoring in vocal performance with a minor in theater in college. Shortly after coming to Twin Falls in 1998, a friend told her about a local theater group, the Dilletantes, and she auditioned for their production of The King and I. Even though she nailed her audition, she figured she wouldn’t get the lead role, since she was the new girl in town. She happily took a role in the chorus, but a last-minute illness of the leading lady prompted the director to ask Lori to take the part just one week before opening. Lori was up for the challenge and ended up having a great show.
Since then, Lori has been hooked on local theater.
Lori served on the board of directors of Magic Valley Little Theater for 21 years and is also a four-time past president of the Dilletantes. She has directed multiple shows for both organizations and also recently worked with Junior Musical Playhouse Company (JuMP). “It’s a totally different animal working with kids,” she said cheerfully.
For many years, MVLT focused on performing smaller shows. But in 2005 they took a risk and did a larger musical production, Annie. The show did very well and MVLT has been doing larger scale musicals ever since. “In this community, people love musicals,” Lori said. “You can do a musical here and people will come.”
Lori has a long list of directing credits. Most recently she directed Curtains, a musical comedy “show within a show,” in which she also starred as Carmen.
Lori says her favorite show was The Secret Garden, 12 years ago. During the show she fell and broke her leg. She only missed three rehearsals, but spent the entire production in a wheelchair and heavily medicated. She laughs about it now, recalling how she wasn’t “with it” when they ran through a scene she previously blocked. She turned to her assistant and said, “Did I do that… because it looks awesome.”
As of January, Lori is acting in Death of a Salesman. She is also ecstatic to direct The Secret Garden again with the Dilletantes, to be performed Spring 2011.
“We definitely need to do something to pull the masses in,” she said. “You hate to see hard work go into a show and not have people there. It’s a conservative town, so I tend to err on the side of caution.”
Lori teaches a drama class at Lighthouse Christian and also teaches private voice lessons, which has a waiting list.
When Lori’s students ask her, “Do you think I’ll make it?” she replies, “It depends on how you determine ‘making it.’”
“I am a professional director of musical theater. I would say I’ve ‘made it’ in this business. You don’t have to live in New York to have a rewarding career doing what you love.”
Anyone who sees one of Lori’s productions can see she invests her heart and soul.
“If I could describe my life as one hyphenated word, it would be ‘musical-theater.’ It’s just who I am.”