BoHo Welcomes New Executive Director
Coming off of their successful 2011/2012 season at Theater Wit, BoHo Theatre today announced its new Executive Director, Kaela Altman, who will be taking over the position from Peter Blair. Blair served as the company's Executive Director for two seasons following the tenure of founding Executive Director Tom Samorian in 2010. Blair will remain an active company member with BoHo.
Under his leadership, Blair helped steer the company through a dramatic period of growth and recognition. Having performed primarily in its intimate 30-seat home at the Heartland Studio in the Glenwood Arts District in Rogers Park for its first six seasons, BoHo Theatre became one of the inaugural resident companies at Theater Wit in Lakeview following its renovation in 2010. At Wit, Blair produced such hits as Big River, Pippin, The Rainmaker, and the recently acclaimed Floyd Collins, as well as the remounting of Big River at last summer's Theater on the Lake.
Floyd Collins, which closed its successful run on July 15th, was for Blair a high point and defining moment in his time as Executive Director. He and BoHo Artistic Director Peter Marston Sullivan had been enthusiastic fans of the show for years, prior to their involvement with the company, and BoHo's production and the overwhelming response to it was the perfect ending to his time as Executive Director. Floyd Collins garnered both regional and national acclaim, with the Wall Street Journal labeling it "a major event" and "a masterpiece," the Chicago Sun-Times declaring it "utterly enthralling," and WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight proclaiming "BoHo's production is absolutely perfect."
Reflecting on his time with BoHo and the impact he has made, Blair remarks, "Even more than the shows, my relationships with the company members mean the most to me. Peter Marston Sullivan is a great leader and a great friend... I believe in the company and I want to stay affiliated with BoHo"
Remarking on their artistic partnership, Sullivan believes that BoHo "has proven itself capable of producing incredibly challenging shows in all categories, and we have continued to build our reputation as a successful company. Our 'success' is in both the process and the product. Yet the family we've fostered at BoHo is what is most successful to me."
Blair is stepping away from the Executive Director position to spend more time with his family and allow for a new voice in the company's leadership. "I think that as an ensemble," Blair says, "the responsibilities (and rewards!) of the company should be passed around. My successor, Kaela Altman, is extremely smart and capable and I can't wait to sit back and enjoy her productions. "
Incoming Executive Director Kaela Altman's professional background is rooted in non-profit administration and she is currently completing a Master's Degree in Arts Management. She joined BoHo's board in 2010 after experiencing BoHo's production of Big River at Theater Wit. "Chicago's theater scene was one of the reasons I moved here and I had always enjoyed BoHo's work," Altman says. "Volunteering for the BoHo Board was the best way to mingle my passion for the performing arts with my professional skills in non-profit management." In her time on the board, she has been a pivotal member of the company's marketing team and helped lead BoHo's successful fundraising campaign "Make It Rain" during this season's production of The Rainmaker.
Her first goal in her new position will be to focus BoHo's strategic plan for the future and strengthen its ties to its community, including partnering with local schools to introduce more students to the power of the performing arts. "I think BoHo is an important pillar in the Chicago Theater Community and I'm excited to broaden our reach and champion our contribution in the coming years," she says.
Artistic Director Sullivan is also excited to begin the next chapter in BoHo's story. "Kaela's vast knowledge in arts management and marketing will be invaluable to the company," he says. "Her drive, passion, and leadership boosted her quickly to the top, where she can implement a multitude of strategies to make BoHo even more successful."
"We've also been a company largely run by men in leadership positions," he continues. "This is an opportunity to have a female voice guiding how BoHo evolves in the coming years."
Altman's first production as Executive Director and lead producer will be The Spitfire Grill by James Valcq and Fred Alley, which will open BoHo's 2012/2013 Season on September 16th and represent the Bohemian Pillar of Freedom. The Spitfire Grill will be produced at BoHo's old home at the Heartland Studio in Rogers Park. "One of our strengths is the intimate quality of our productions, and returning to the Heartland Studio is the best way to serve the art in this production," explains Sullivan.
In January, BoHo will partner with Stage Left Theater to present George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion at Theater Wit. The co-production is a first for both companies, and will be directed by Stage Left's Artistic Director Vance Smith, associate directed by BoHo's Associate Artistic Director Peter Robel, and will feature cast members from both companies. Pygmalion, with its transformation of Eliza Doolittle from street seller to a lady of high-society, will examine the Bohemian Pillar of Beauty.
In the spring, BoHo will again return to the Heartland Studio to present Hauptmann by John Logan, a gripping examination of the truth behind the man executed for the kidnapping the Lindbergh's baby in 1936, despite his protestations of innocence. This highly theatrical narrative of shifting viewpoints and media frenzy will represent the Bohemian Pillar of Truth.
To close the season, BoHo will continue its tradition of producing powerful but rarely-seen shows with the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman by John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Terrence McNally at Theater Wit. Representing the Bohemian Pillar of Love, Kiss of the Spider Woman is a testament to the power of love to overcome the harsh reality of the world around us.
Looking to next season and beyond, Sullivan says, "We will continue to redefine who we are as a company, and how we produce theatre. The voices have changed, the leadership has changed, but our fundamental dedication to the pillars of bohemian ideals stands firm. We are evolving and adapting to new challenges and new direction, yet our foundation remains the telling of intimate and heartfelt stories; ever exploring the elements of truth, beauty, freedom and love."