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Pasadena Playhouse Announces Exciting Changes

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Sheila Grether-Marion, Chair of The Pasadena Playhouse Board of Directors, made three important announcements today. Elizabeth Doran, currently the Managing Director of The Actor’s Gang, will join The Playhouse as its new Executive Director on September 17. Artistic Director Sheldon Epps has renewed his contract to remain as The Playhouse’s long-term Artistic Director as he enters his 16th season. And The Playhouse successfully achieved a $250,000 challenge grant with $750,000 in matched funds.

  “I am thrilled that an arts leader as talented and experienced as Elizabeth is joining The Playhouse family at this auspicious moment,” said Board Chair Sheila Grether-Marion. “With Sheldon committed for an extended period of time and our recent fundraising success, The Playhouse’s future is bright indeed.”  


“I could not be happier that our comprehensive process led us to this quite terrific choice,” stated Playhouse Artistic Director Sheldon Epps. “I have already discovered that Elizabeth is passionate about the theatre, skilled in a wide range of areas, and both practical and willing to dream, all qualities that are essential for leading a theatre company. I feel confident that we will share a strong, dynamic partnership that will offer The Playhouse wonderful new energy as we continue our evolvement and growth."

 “I am inspired by the blend of tradition and innovation evident in The Playhouse and in the greater Pasadena community,” said Elizabeth Doran, newly appointed Executive Director of The Playhouse. “This is the all-American town, after all, that just put the “Curiosity” rover on Mars. The Playhouse has explored every aspect of American life, producing a spectrum of work from Eugene O'Neill to Suzan Lori-Parks. I am very excited to work with Sheldon Epps, a nationally recognized Artistic Director who has embraced and furthered this ongoing exploration.


In my fortunate collaboration with some of our best artists and art institutions, I have come to know that a great theater must seek to influence national conversations while simultaneously existing to empower, draw strength from, enrich, examine and reflect its home community. This is what inspires me most about The Playhouse: through its widely recognized artistic achievements, it has become a pillar of Pasadena – a community that has, in return, come together at a time of great challenges to shore up this pillar, and enhance its position at home and beyond.
  I am honored and exhilarated to step in as Executive Director at this time. The recent struggles faced by The Playhouse worried a similarly threatened national theater community. Its roaring comeback has now given everyone in the arts new hope. With a partner like Sheldon, an energized and growing board, a mobilized community and the eyes of the national theater scene focused on its success, I feel the possibilities of The Playhouse are genuinely limitless. Like our neighbors at JPL might say: the sky's not the limit...”
“I want to personally thank everyone in the community who helped us meet this challenge,” said Michele Engemann, who was Chair of the Board during the campaign. “It is enormously encouraging to find such support for The Playhouse, and we are deeply grateful to the Fosters for their visionary gift. Its effects will be felt well into the future”.
  "The terrific success of the Foster Challenge is just another example of how The Playhouse has continued to meet every challenge we've encountered with responsibility, creativity and, always, a vision to sustain and expand our reputation as one of the great regional theaters in America,” stated Playhouse 2011 – 2012 Development Chair Martha Williamson.
Elizabeth Doran Hailing from Patchogue, NY, Elizabeth Doran began her career in theatre as a writer and performer. After earning a BA in theatre arts at SUNY Fredonia, Elizabeth became interested in building and sustaining great theatre companies. She earned her MBA in Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Rensselaer in Troy, NY. After working as a market strategist for the international fashion company Alviero Martini in Milan, she returned to the US as the Director of Finance and Planning at La Jolla Playhouse. After subsequently serving as the Segerstrom Center for the Arts' interim General Manager as it completed its major capital campaign and construction of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Elizabeth returned to the east coast to take on the Managing Director position at Capital Repertory Theatre, an established LORT regional theatre in Albany, NY. Most recently, Elizabeth has been the Managing Director of Los Angeles' own The Actors' Gang since October 2008, where, in partnership with Oscar-winner, Tim Robbins, she has expanded international touring, outreach programming, and has raised major gifts in support of artistic development. Elizabeth is married to Kwinn Doran, a college instructor and historian, and lives in South Pasadena with her two young sons, Giacomo and Ely.


Sheldon Epps Sheldon Epps has been Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse since 1997 and this month celebrates his 15th anniversary with the historic theatre. Epps has renewed a long- term contract to continue as Artistic Director alongside Executive Director Elizabeth Doran. He has also directed numerous productions on The Playhouse’s main stage including the recent hit revival of Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky, Fences, Ray Charles Live!, The Night is a Child, Blue, Play On! This season he will direct Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel. This past season on Broadway, he co-directed Baby It’s You! which had its professional debut on The Playhouse stage in 2009.

  Foster Challenge In the Fall of 2011, Ed and Connie Foster, both long-time supporters and subscribers to The Playhouse, offered a donation of $250,000 if $750,000 of new or increased matching funds was raised by current and new donors by August 31, 2012, for a total of one million dollars. Through the dedicated efforts of The Playhouse staff, Board and generous support from the community, the “Foster Challenge” was actually exceeded. “We believe in The Pasadena Playhouse,” said the Fosters. “We believe in live arts and we believe in live theatre.”



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.