Saturday, March 25Welcome

Marriott, Goodman and Metropolis Add New Leadership; Copley Theater Debuts at Aurora

The only constant is change. That’s certainly true for Chicago-area theaters, which have been hit hard by the lingering impact of COVID-19-related closures and are grappling with annual closures and leadership changes.

In March, the Marriott Theater in Lincolnshire witnessed the end of an era in which Executive Producer Terry James and Artistic Director Aaron Thielen spent 40 and 27 years respectively. In the same month, Aurora’s Paramount Theater ushered in a new era by presenting his series Bold in his newly renovated 165-seat Copley Theater.

Marriott Theater veterans Peter Marston Sullivan (left) and Peter Blair will take over the roles of the theater's artistic director and executive producer in 2022.

Marriott Theater veterans Peter Marston Sullivan (left) and Peter Blair will take over the roles of the theater’s artistic director and executive producer in 2022.
– Courtesy of Brandon Dahlquist Photography

meet new boss

Marriott Two veterans have been named to replace James and Thielen: Associate Producer Peter Blair and Associate Artistic Director Peter Marston Sullivan. Blair (who has been with the theater since 2005) and Sullivan (who joined Marriott in 2004) took over as Executive Producer and Artistic Director, respectively, and began 20 years ago at Chicago’s now-defunct Bayleywick His Repertory Theatre. We have further strengthened our professional partnerships. Additionally, Marriott’s Patti Garwood, the region’s longest serving music director and conductor, retired in June after 28 years, 158 shows and more than 11,000 performances.

• Rob Gretta, former artistic director of the Post Playhouse in Nebraska, Metropolis Performing Arts Center In March, after a six-month search. Less than five months later, Gretta resigned for personal reasons, according to a statement from Metropolis board members.

writer’s theater has appointed Seattle rep Brayden Abraham as its new artistic director. Abraham takes over on his February.

Goodman Theater We have one of our own as our new Artistic Director. Susan V. Booth was director of Goodman’s new theater development from 1993 until 2001, when he served as artistic director of the Tony Award-winning Alliance He Theater in Atlanta for 21 years. Booth, Goodman’s first female artistic director in her 97-year history, succeeds Robert Falls, who retired in September after 35 years at the helm of the arts.


Former Goodman Theater Director of the new theater development, Susan V. Booth, succeeds artistic director Robert Folds, who will retire in October.

Former Goodman Theater Director of the new theater development, Susan V. Booth, succeeds artistic director Robert Folds, who will retire in October.

• Another Goodman alumnus, former Associate Managing Director Marissa Lynn Ford, League of Chicago Theatersrepresenting more than 250 theaters in the city and suburbs.

hail and farewell

• Executive Director of the original Folio Theater David Rice announced that Oak Brook Theater will close in April 2023, earlier than previously announced. Rice, who co-founded his First Folio with his wife director Alison C. Vessery in 1996, moved up the date for personal reasons.

• Founder and Artistic Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater Barbara Gainesstaged his first production for CST, Henry V, on the roof of Chicago’s Red Lion Pub in 1986 and announced his retirement next year.executive director Chris Henderson He also won multiple Laurence Olivier and Joseph Jefferson Awards under Gaines and Henderson, and in 2008 announced his departure from the venerable regional Tony Award winner.

• Artistic Director of The Raven Theater Cody Estellestepped down to take over the artistic leadership of Milwaukee’s Next Act Theater after seeing Chicago’s theaters transition from non-equity to equity during his five-year tenure.

Eclipse Theater Companyfounded by drama students at DePaul University, later adopted a one-playwright-per-season approach, but closed after 30 years. House Theater of Chicagofamous for its unique and whimsical storytelling, closed in May after 20 years.

• Berwinds 16th Street Theater 15 years later, in 2022, operations will cease, AstonRep Theater Company announced that it will close next year after 15 seasons.

Underscore Theater Company Declared closing for the first time in 11 years. However, the company’s Chicago Music Theater Festival, which showcases new and in-development musicals, will survive thanks to his Kokandy Productions, which will produce the festival going forward.

• 2022 was a turbulent year for Tony Award winners Victory Gardens Theaterhas been suspended from its board of directors and his future looks uncertain after the position reached just over a year after he fired artistic director Ken-Matt Martin in June. VGT’s playwrights ensemble and resident director have since resigned in protest, according to statements posted on social media. According to published reports, board members have laid off the remaining full-time and part-time staff. Published reports also indicate that board members may consider renting out VGT to other companies in lieu of staging their own productions. The theater’s last Facebook post of him is dated July 8th.

A new beginning

• 37 years old american blues theaterthe award-winning ensemble It’s a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!, known for its adaptation of the beloved radio play, has announced that it will open its home in Chicago in late 2023. Steep TheaterIt also purchased a property in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood and is scheduled to open in 2023.

• Two years after pandemic-related losses and property tax issues were resolved iO Chicagothe improvisational theater has reopened in a newly renovated space.

Storefront heavyweights to improve accessibility and promote inclusivity and fairness Straw Dog Theater Company Adopts free theater model in 2022. Tickets are free, but donations are accepted and reservations are required.

Joseph Jefferson Commission introduced a new category for works presented in nine to 17 performances, recognizing theaters producing short films and companies recovering from the pandemic.

fatalities (number

Among the veteran theater people who died this year are: Hollis Resnickan 11-time Jeff Award winner and a veteran of Marriott, Northlight, Paramount, Court, Chicago Shakespeare, and Candlelight Dinner Playhouse and Appletree Theater. He also toured nationally with Scoundrels, Sister Act, and Modern Millie.

Farewell to theatergoers Larry Neumann Jr., a storefront theater stalwart who won one of three Jeff Awards for “A Moon for the Misbegotten” in the first folio.character actor for television and stage danny goldringactor/playwright/disability rights activist Susan Nussbaum; actor/teacher Mary Ann Tebas Taught at Steppenwolf, Artistic Home and Wisdom Bridge Theatre.Longtime Chicago Theater Critic Richard Christiansen Above all.

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