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BLT bids goodbye to artistic director

Brookhaven Little Theatre is saying goodbye to its first managing artistic director as Emily Waterloo departs the Home Seekers Paradise.

Waterloo officially left the job at BLT Dec. 31. Her husband, Trey, is CEO of Landshark Companies, a logistics and trucking company in the Jackson area, where the couple and their children make their home.

Waterloo originally submitted her six-month notice in December 2019, but COVID postponed that departure. She stayed on throughout 2020 to help the theatre’s board with the transition.

“It’s been an incredible experience and I’m super proud of what our organization has done and been able to accomplish,” Waterloo said. “The backbone of the theatre is the community, patrons and supporters, and being able to keep management consistency.”

Steven McMorris, chairman of the BLT board of directors, said although he and his family had been involved with BLT for only a couple of years, they have seen that Waterloo’s leadership has been impressive.

“You can’t help but notice Emily’s devotion to excellence and attention to detail,” McMorris said. “Everything she did, she did to the very best of her ability. She wouldn’t settle for seeing BLT as a ‘small town theater.’ Even though we are a small town, the quality of what domes out of BLT is excellent quality. She always pushed BLT further and further.”

Though involved in BLT prior to taking the helm, Waterloo was hired as the theatre’s full-time managing artistic director in 2016. Since then, BLT has partnered with big name actors and directors — such as actor/directors Kevin Chamberlin and Nick Rocz — and delivered productions that included “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Seussical the Musical,” “Newsies: A Broadway Musical,” “Les Misérables: Student Edition,” “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “The Little Mermaid,” which was directed by Waterloo and was the largest revenue show in BLT’s history.

“Exposure is key,” said Waterloo. “There are talented people all over the world, but without exposure they’re like a seed that doesn’t get water. We’ve been able to expose adults, kids and the community to great directors and amazing artists that we brought in, and it’s been a privilege to do that here. It’s made a big impact on tourism, too.”

“She’s contributed a lot and under her leadership the theater has grown significantly,” McMorris said. “Brookhaven has always had a strong theater program, but under her leadership it really excelled. She was the first person in that role as executive director and having someone there in that full-time capacity, we were able to receive grants — and having that funding allowed us to do a lot more that otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed to do.”

BLT’s 53rd season of 2019-2020 was interrupted by the COVID-19 crisis. The theatre received a $7,400 Mississippi Arts Commission CARES emergency grant in May that was used to cover operating expenses.

As the longest continuously running community theater in the state, McMorris said the board is working on a plan to safely reopen and provide quality entertainment once again for the city of Brookhaven.

“I’ve been so thankful for my time here and I plan to wave the banner of BLT as I move on,” Waterloo said.