The Durrett Stage

The Durrett Stage was dedicated in 2011 by Mr. Roger Warren Durrett and Miss Madison (Maddie) Durrett '07. Mr. Durrett shares why he and his daughter give to Charlotte Latin School.

There were other places to put capital to use. And yet, Madison was a Latin Lifer. What could be a better testament to our years at Charlotte Latin.

My earliest memories of Thies Auditorium began with the Admissions Open House in 1994. We knew we had found the right school for her, and for us.

Several years later, she shared a featured role with third grade classmate Tommy Dubick in Emilie William's Grandparents' Day presentation of "The Lion King" - Madison's first meaningful experience on the stage at Latin.

In 2004, she was cast in the opening scene of the play, "Inherit the Wind," with her future best friend, Stuart Stump. Madison would also participate in every Latin musical theater production thereafter. And she enjoyed, perhaps even more, her vocal music classes and chorus activities with CLS Choral Director Craig Estep.

I became involved at the behest of Lucy Anderson, a member of the Development Office staff, as she suggested I perform "An Evening with Mark Twain" on the Latin stage as a fundraiser for the new Media Center in 1996. Later, I would help produce the May Day Play Day Faculty Talent Show in 2001, the year of Dr. Fox's retirement. I must say, having [retired Head of Lower School] Claudette Hall in a bathtub onstage in a shower cap to the song "Rubber Ducky" was not easily forgotten! What wonderful camaraderie and many smiles were had.

As we moved through our years at Latin, I had the privilege of serving as a member, and later Chair and Co-chair, of the Friends of Theater Arts (FOTA) parent volunteer group. I also had the honor of emceeing eight Celebration of Theater awards banquets with the invaluable help of dedicated theater Moms.

And in 2003, Maria Klein asked me if I would reprise my Mark Twain performance as part of the Upper School English Department's study of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. That was a special night for me on the Latin stage in January of that year.

Eventually, the School recognized the need to plan and develop a capital campaign to update and expand the growing performing arts program and to make necessary changes to Thies Auditorium. It would be aptly named the "Foundation for the Future" campaign.

And indeed, it was. So many of Latin's Trustees, administrators, faculty, and parents worked so long, and so hard, that even against formidable odds, nothing was unachievable. In the "delayed, not denied" economy of 2007-2008, our school's leaders were prudent and prescient. The goal was eventually achieved. Dreams became bricks and mortar.

So much for history, except to say that so much of the Durrett family's time, so many of our years at Latin, so many of the very best experiences at our School, were centered on and around the stage in Thies Auditorium.

When the opportunity came to contribute to Latin's future, and have the stage named after expressing our desire to do so, it seemed a perfect way to try and "pay it forward" to successive students and classes.

Succeeding years of Latin students will never know what we experienced on that stage, and in those years. But it is our hope they will recognize that what did transpire there was important enough, worthy enough, and meaningful enough that Madison and I were desirous to commemorate it in a tangible, and permanent, fashion.

We are grateful beyond measure. And it is our enduring hope that others who follow will choose their own way to build upon, support, and preserve their years at the School to which we all owe so much.