Succession in Play at Albuquerque Little Theatre

 Executive director retires after 16 years

Long-time executive director Henry Avery, 84, has retired from Albuquerque Little Theatre (ALT) after serving the popular and historic locale for 16 years. The theater’s former managing director, Rob Armstrong Martin, was named to take the helm in July.

“My goal is to transform ALT’s work both in children’s theater education and in adult vocational training into a unifying mission offering whole-family arts and lifelong learning to the community,” Martin said.

Avery, with husband Dehron Foster, led the theater from the 2008 Great Recession crash through almost two decades of audience rebuilding and expansion. This included preservation of staff and production of shows through the pandemic.

Despite his retirement July 1, Avery isn’t stopping: “I’d like to continue being involved with ALT through teaching and donor relations. I’m even entertaining the idea of writing a memoir of my years on Broadway and at Theatre Baton Rouge.”

ALT Board president Paula Ann Stein along with Avery and a search committee, comprising theater professionals, community members and ALT Board members, conducted a year-long search for Avery’s successor after he announced his intent to retire last spring.

“We focused on finding a leader who had experience in both business and the arts, which is not a common combination,” Stein said. “We are confident that Rob has the unique set of skills and professional background to take our beloved historic theater to its 100th birthday in the next five years, and to continue the legacy of Henry (Avery), Bernie Thomas and many others before him.”

Martin, an Albuquerque native, professional actor, and stage/film producer, undertook a three-month tryout under Avery before being selected for the executive position. Martin came to ALT after a nine-year term as assistant dean for Continuing Medical Education at New York University’s Grossman Long Island School of Medicine, where among other things, he wrote and directed training films for the medical staff.

“The storytelling tools I learned as an actor and director, I used to write healthcare grants and continuing education films for clinical professionals. Working with actors playing standardized-patients in medical simulations was a favorite part of my last job, and we joined the recent trend to use arts, theater and humanism to improve health care training in hospitals,” Martin said.

Martin’s education in drama began at Eldorado High School under local legend George Nason before going on to study both drama and dance at Dartmouth College. His professional acting career started in 1987, at Dartmouth Summer Repertory and the Wool Warehouse Dinner Theater. His early years also included performances in plays and musicals at Albuquerque Civic Light Opera, the Vortex Theatre, and ALT before he moved to New York City in 1997. There, he performed in off-Broadway hits like The Hollywood Pinafore and West Side Story.

Martin continued to study acting and directing at Atlantic Theater Acting Conservatory, producing at the Commercial Theater Institute, and film industry business at New York University, before earning his master’s degree in business administration at Yale University.

This spring, the community may have seen Martin on stage at ALT in Something Rotten and The 39 Steps.

Albuquerque Little Theatre is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to cultivate appreciation of the theater arts through participation in fully-staged productions and to nurture aspiring talent through innovative educational programs. Located just south of historic Old Town at 224 San Pasquale SW, the theater offers the opportunity to make performance and educational activities available for all ages and to develop programs to enhance the cultural environment. ALT was founded in 1930 by a group of civic-minded citizens, spending its first six years in the KiMo Theatre downtown.

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