We had the good fortune of connecting with Logan Vaden and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Logan, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
In Houston we are so lucky to have an incredibly robust arts scene. Even with the impressive amount of art Houston produces, there still is much demand for more. Many of my friends and colleagues are labeled “semi-professional.” This is a term used for artists that are definitely talented enough to be creating art at a high level, but there just isn’t enough work to go around, so they have day jobs to supplement their income. I held a cocktail hour at my apartment one evening with a group of these artists and asked what they thought was missing from the Houston theatre scene. Unanimously they all said that there aren’t enough spaces for artists like them to create. That evening, The Garden Theatre was born. All of the people that were in that room now proudly serve on our board of directors and strive to create an inclusive environment for artists. It truly has been a team effort from the beginning, and trust me when I say I have the A team on my side!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Throughout the years, I have shifted to more of a director/producer role instead of a performer, but it really all started as performing. I was 4 years old when I saw a play and told my family, “I want to do that.” They rolled their eyes and said, “Maybe next year.” At that point, I was the shy kid in the room. I wouldn’t talk to my teachers much unless I absolutely had to. The next year, the same thing happened. And the next year, the same. Finally at 7, they caved and let me try it, and they were shocked. I was up there playing several different characters, being loud, and fully emoting. Who was this kid? Where did he come from? I was hooked. From that point on, I was always in a show. Then I started getting curious about how ALL of theatre worked. How does backstage work? We are doing this play, but someone else wrote it, so how are WE getting to do it? And then eventually in my teen years, the question that changed my life: What does non-profit mean? I learned through doing. I didn’t finish my degree. Theatre was my school, and it was the only school I liked. For the last 23 years, I don’t think there’s been a month where I haven’t been working on something creative. Whether that was forcing my poor sister to play Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in our living room for the 14th time when we were little, or now producing theatre in professional venues. It all played such an important part of my journey and education. There have been really tough moments on that journey, but hindsight is 20/20, and those tough moments were part of the education. I wouldn’t trade any of it.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I adore the midtown area. You can hop on the train and go just about anywhere! For eats AND drinks, I am pretty fond of the new restaurant, Winnie’s. Right down the block is Big Top, which is a really fun bar with live music, a great back patio, and a crazy theme. Breakfast time is 100% for The Breakfast Klub. I mean come on… it’s so good that that’s where Beyonce goes when she’s in town. If we’re hopping outside the loop for dinner, Los Cucos has been a favorite since high school. You can’t beat it. For entertainment, I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that I love going to MATCH to catch a show. The Garden Theatre produces most of our work there, but hundreds of companies do, too! There’s always something great happening there, as well as our downtown theatres in the theatre district. And we can’t leave out our fabulous museum district. The list truly is endless. I love this city and I love exploring it, the new and the old!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been so incredibly lucky with the mentors and teachers I’ve had along my journey. One in particular really sticks out to me, though. When I was 18 years old, I was cast in a production of Grease with Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theatre. Directing that production was Broadway and film actor, Kevin Cahoon. Throughout high school, I had listened to Kevin on multiple cast albums like The Wild Party, The Wedding Singer, and The Lion King. When I learned I was to be directed by him, to say I was thrilled would be an understatement. His version of Grease was unlike anything I had ever seen. It was inventive and put a whole new spin on this musical everyone had seen a million times. The next year, Kevin came back to Houston to direct Annie. He called me up before auditions and said, “Hey, there’s not really a role for this in you, but how would you feel about being my assistant director?” First of all, the amount of disappointment that I felt was monstrous. My dream role had always been Annie, and at 19 years old, I thought this was my shot. Sadly, Kevin did not agree. (Please for the love of god note that I am laughing as I say this so people don’t think I’m that delusional.) Secondly, I could not believe this man trusted me with this task of being second in command when I had never done something like that. Of course I quickly said yes, and it turned out to be the best decision of my life. Watching Kevin work with actors, attending production meetings, and eventually leading the production through tech week and into opening (Kevin had to go back to New York for a project, so I was left in charge) was beyond life changing. I knew I still wanted to perform, but I very much knew by the end of it that I also wanted to direct, and I wanted to do it like Kevin. His creativity knows no bounds. He takes stories you think you know and he turns them on their heads. I now strive to do this as a director. I often find myself in a rehearsal room asking, “WWKD?” (What Would Kevin Do). To call him a friend and a mentor has been the honor of a lifetime.

Website: www.thegardentheatre.org

Instagram: @gardentheatrehou

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/logan-vaden-33b909179/

Twitter: @GardenTheatreTX / @logan_vaden

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gardentheatrehou

Other: TikTok: @thegardentheatre

Image Credits
Pin Lim, John Gladu, Ericka Waldorf, Caitlin Cannon Fagan

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