For the past six years, Karlah and Arthur Louis have touched the lives of countless Loudouners through their nonprofit Main Street Theater Productions. When Arthur Louis died last month after a long illness, Karlah made a tough call: it was time to close the company.
“It seems a lifetime ago that Arthur and I decided we wanted to open and run a theater company,” Karlah Louis wrote to Main Street supporters Aug. 10. “Main Street was born and it was our third child. … We went through labor pains and for the first two years Arthur and I and our girls worked together side by side to get this company off the ground …Very soon thereafter Arthur was diagnosed with his illness and Main Street became something different to each of us. I became the face and force behind it as Arthur pulled back his duties to become my support and the ‘producer’ paperwork guy.”
Karlah and Arthur Louis fell in love while they were neighbors in Arlington, in the mid-90s and moved to Loudoun in 1999. When Karlah left her award-winning career as a professional actor a decade ago, she began directing shows for other local companies. With encouragement from friends and fans, she and Arthur eventually decided to start their own nonprofit company, with a goal of bringing high-quality, rigorously produced productions to Loudoun. Main Street put on its first show in 2013 and since then has consistently wowed audiences with its increasingly ambitious and sophisticated productions. Karlah Louis is known for her knack for drawing talented adults from around the region out of the woodwork and inspiring professional quality performances. In the past few years, the company has taken several ambitious leaps, producing Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” in 2018 and ending its final season with the challenging classic “South Pacific.”
Main Street and the Louises also touched the lives of hundreds of local children through annual performing arts summer camps and musicals at Harmony Middle School. With support from Arthur, her daughters Rachel and Sarah and her Main Street team, Karlah Louis fulfilled her commitment to dozens of young people enrolled in three Main Street performing arts camps this summer. Louis says she’ll serve as artistic director for a final HMS musical during the upcoming school year, but the planned 2019-2020 Main Street season has been canceled.
For Karlah Louis, the focus will be on moving forward with her daughters, now 21 and 16.
“My girls and I need to move forward into new careers and into new chapters of our lives. Without Arthur and the girls, Main Street can’t and wouldn’t exist to me… It seems fitting as our seventh season ends that we stop here,” Louis wrote. “Please wish my girls and me well as we leave one life behind and boldly step into our new ones. We will be here still… we will always be home on Main Street.”