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August 1, 2014 at 2:47 PM

News from ArtsWest, Balagan Theatre

Seattle Times theater critic Misha Berson writes:

ArtsWest names director

Matthew Wright, courtesy of ArtsWest.

Mathew Wright, courtesy of ArtsWest.

After a nationwide search, the board of directors of ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery have chosen Mathew Wright as the West Seattle center’s  new artistic director, effective Sept. 1, 2014.

Wright is a New Jersey native, with an MFA in directing from Temple University and many credits in musical theater.  At ArtsWest last season, he staged the musical “Little Women,” and was the music director for “Hair.”

Since arriving in Seattle in 2011,  Wright has been employed as the education programs coordinator for  5th Avenue Theatre, running its Rising Star program of youth productions.  He also served as associate  director for  “Oliver!,” “The Pirates of Penzance” and other mainstage productions, staged “Wisemen” at ACT Theatre, and is the musical director of a Balagan Theatre-Seattle Musical Theatre mounting of “Urinetown,” which opens next week.

Though his Seattle work has been mainly in musicals, Wright has also staged dramatic plays for numerous East Coast theaters.

In a company press release, Wright stated, “I can’t wait to partner with [ArtsWest] in their mission to create vital, transcendent and important work for Seattle audiences and the extraordinary artists who live and work here.”

Wright replaces  Annie Lareau. who capably served as interim director for a season after the departure of previous a.d., Christopher Zinovitch.

Balagan Theatre reshuffles

Balagan Theatre has made some personnel shifts, and is spinning off a new for-profit entity. The company, which focuses on presenting contemporary musical theater including world premiere shows like the recent “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,” announced that staffer Danielle Franich has been promoted to the position of executive director.

She replaces in that role company founder Jake Groshong. Also, Louis Hobson has stepped down from his post as Balagan’s artistic director.

Groshong and Hobson will still be very much involved with the company,  however.

According to a press statement, the two men  “will step into management roles at a newly formed theatrical investment and licensing company that will continue to work with Balagan on their mutual mission to bring exciting theatre to the next generation of theatre goers.  They will share offices and continue to work with the new leadership on the future of the company.”  Intrigued?  So are we.  Stay tuned.

Comments | More in Arts news | Topics: ArtsWest, Balagan Theatre, Danielle Franich

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