Archive for May, 2011

A new exec…from close to home

Posted on May 26, 2011 by Leave a comment

Steven Leon is Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s new executive director. The announcement was made official yesterday in a press release, and my full story is in The Sun today. 

Ironically, while MRT scoured the country and interviewed four finalists for the position, Leon comes from right down the road in Cambridge – the American Repertory Theatre, to be exact. He’s been assistant general manager for six years at the prestigious Harvard Square theater and has a 30 year career in theater, including directing, lighting design and management duties, on his impressive resume.

He’s a Chicago area native and married to painter Sarah Leon. He replaces Tom Parrish, who left MRT in early February to head the GEVA Theater Center in Rochester, N.Y.

The press release includes kudos for Leon from such big names in American theater as Bob Brustein, founding director of the ART, and Rob Orchard, former executive director of the ART and current executive director of Boston’s ArtsEmerson.

Leon found a lot to like about Lowell on his four official visits here. But it’s the quality of work on the MRT stage that first attracted him to the job, he said.

Unbeknownst to Charles Towers, MRT’s artistic director, Leon has been in the audience for several  MRT productions in recent years and praised Towers’ talents and eagerness to present new works.

It sounds like a match made in theatrical heaven, and both Towers and Leon seemed ecstatic about the prospects of working together during phone interviews yesterday.

“It ’s better than we could have ever expected,” said Towers.

“I’m thrilled to be coming to the Merrimack Rep,” said Leon.

He officially begins the job at the start of the next fiscal year on July 1. But he’s already in the email loop and will be officially introduced to the community at MRT’s annual meeting on June 28.

What I like about Lowell

Posted on May 11, 2011 by Leave a comment

Delighted to be in Lowell today for three significant events. First, the COOL breakfast, celebrating 10 years of outreach, support and involvement with the artists, businesses and tourism in the city, making Lowell a very cool place to live, work and play.

Congrats to MRT for the $325,000 Kresge Foundation grant that will help refurbish the theater (first time in 25 years) and make it more user-friendly. And also kudos to the Revolving Museum for its semi-final status for a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. They’re waiting for the end of June to learn if they are one of 12 finalists that get invited to the White House.

Then on to the Owl Diner and a chance to catch up with Jack Neary, Lowell playwright and blogger sublime. His The Porch, a Lowell-centric comedy, is being presented June 2-4 at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center. I’ll write on this on May 26.

Finally, off to the American Textile History Museum, where two new exhibits, one about soldier graffiti on a troop ship heading to Vietnam in the 1960s, and another about the glammy fashions of the 1930s, both open on May 21. See my story next Thursday, May 19 in Steppin’ Out.

I was breathless by then and remain amazed at how far Lowell has come in the years I have covered it…There really is a lot to like about Lowell…