Carthage's Legacy Theater hires new manager
By MATT DUTTON Herald-Whig Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Ill. -- Legacy Theater in Carthage will be under new management as it enters its third year of operation.

Carthage transplant Amy Walen recently became the venue's new theater operations manager, replacing Matt Saunders. A North Dakota native, Walen has an extensive background in theater.

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She had a hand in every play put on at West Fargo High School in West Fargo, N.D., while she was a student there. As an upperclassman, she began to focus more on stage management. She was an officer in the drama club and formed an improv group at her school.

Walen attended Millikin University in Decatur for two years before transferring to Brigham Young University-Idaho and majoring in business management with an emphasis in finance. At Millikin University, she majored in theater administration. She moved to Carthage after graduation to be closer to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple in Nauvoo.

"I knew I wanted to come back to Illinois," Walen said. "The temple in Nauvoo drew me to this part of Illinois."

Walen has been volunteering often at the Legacy Theater since her arrival in Carthage. As manager, she will be covering everything from selling tickets to securing acts for the theater and negotiating those contracts.

Walen comes on board as the Legacy Theater is in the middle of a push to diversify the genres of performers it brings to Carthage. The theater's 2018 schedule includes the more traditional bluegrass performers like Molly Tuttle and Branson acts like the Bretts Show, but the theater will play host to more than music this season.

Chicago magician and mentalist Dennis Watkins will put on a show at 7 p.m. Feb. 22. Walen said tickets to see Watkins, who has been featured in American Theatre magazine, at the Legacy will cost about half as much as his Chicago shows.

Walen hopes to start holding improv and other master's classes at the Legacy for high school students.

"I think having a more educational piece and maybe doing some master's classes with the performers who come in would be good," she said. "There are rising stars here."

The Legacy Theater touts its regional appeal, which Walen hopes to continue to cultivate.

"The theater adds a little bit of culture to the area," she said, "but it also boosts the economy, as well. A lot of people from the surrounding areas come to shows and ask me about hotels and restaurants."

The first performance at the Legacy with Walen at the helm will be the Highwaymen Live at the Legacy at 7 p.m. Friday. Walen has been fielding many calls for tickets and believes the show, a tribute to the supergroup made up of Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, could be the first at the Legacy to sell out.