Manhattan Theatre Club Names Chris Jennings as Executive Director

Jennings is currently the Executive Director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.

By: May. 31, 2023
Manhattan Theatre Club Names Chris Jennings as Executive Director

Chris Jennings will join Manhattan Theatre Club as Executive Director to succeed Executive Producer Barry Grove.

Jennings, currently the Executive Director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., will begin transitioning to MTC, joining Artistic Director Lynne Meadow, in June. Grove, who announced his departure in January, will step down at the end of June.

Chris Jennings said, “I’m thrilled to return home to MTC, where I began my career and was mentored by Barry Grove. I’m truly excited to partner with Lynne Meadow in building on her success and helping to continue to create an artistic home for the most talented artists working in the theatre today. It is thrilling that in the first few months alone, we’ll be working on new plays by Jocelyn Bioh, Qui Nguyen, John Patrick Shanley, and more. It is with mixed emotions that I take this next step after 19 seasons with STC. My time here has meant more to me than words can say. STC is well positioned for the future with dynamic artistic work and the most dedicated and talented staff.”

David C. Hodgson, Chairman of the MTC Board of Directors said, “Chris Jennings brings a wealth of experience to his new role at MTC. After a broad national search, Chris stood out for his strong theater chops, the quality of his body of work at Shakespeare Theatre Company, and familiarity with MTC from his time with us as an Administrative Fellow here in 1996. The board is eager to begin our new partnership with him.”

Lynne Meadow said, “I’m looking forward to Chris Jennings’ arrival in NYC and the start of an exciting new chapter at MTC. Chris’ enthusiasm for our work and his producing experience will be of great benefit to MTC, our artists, and our audiences.”

Barry Grove said, “"I have followed Chris Jennings’ career for a long time. Over the last 25+ years, he has shown himself to be an exceptional talent. I am sure he will be a great leader as he joins Lynne for MTC’s next season. I can’t wait to see what they produce together." 

Chris Jennings’ hiring concludes a comprehensive national search process, guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). Bruce D. Thibodeau, President, ACG, said, “The search included extensive and proactive recruitment of a wide range of diverse candidates from the theater field, Broadway, performing arts sector, and other creative industries. ACG presented 15 extremely experienced candidates to the MTC search committee, who then advanced seven to the finalist round of interviews with board, staff, and Artistic Director Lynne Meadow, before selecting the highly qualified and experienced Chris Jennings, who has experience in nonprofit, commercial, and Broadway sectors, to be the new Executive Director.”

Executive Director Chris Jennings is completing his 19th season with Shakespeare Theatre Company, having produced 120 productions.

Highlights of Jennings’ time with STC include the construction and opening of Sidney Harman Hall, a $90M theater in downtown Washington, D.C., receiving the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award, leading the artistic transition from founder Michael Kahn to Artistic Director Simon Godwin, and successfully guiding the company through the difficult periods of the 2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic, tripling the company’s financial reserves. Notably, returning to live performances after the COVID lockdown, he developed a collaboration with The Nederlander Organization to premiere Once Upon a One More Time, which became the biggest-selling show in STC history and is now in previews on Broadway. Under his leadership, STC toured productions to Macau, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom, including to the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works Festival. He has built international collaborations, annually importing high-profile productions for over a decade from South Africa, France, and the UK, most recently represented by the critically acclaimed and sold-out production of The Jungle this Spring.

MTC’s 2023-24 season will include the world premiere of Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, written by Jocelyn Bioh and directed by Whitney White, at the Friedman Theatre; and the New York premiere of Poor Yella Rednecks, written by Qui Nguyen and directed by May Adrales; and the world premiere of Brooklyn Laundry, written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, on Stage I at New York City Center; with more to be announced later. MTC also recently announced that Kwame Kwei-Armah will join MTC as Artistic Advisor starting in the 2023-24 season.

The 2022-23 season marks Lynne Meadow’s 50th Anniversary as Artistic Director of Manhattan Theatre Club. Meadow was joined by Executive Producer Barry Grove in her third season, and together they have helmed MTC for 48 years. MTC’s mission, which Meadow created in 1972 and has implemented since, is to develop and present new work in a dynamic, supportive environment; to identify and collaborate with the most exciting new as well as accomplished artists; and to produce a diverse repertoire of innovative, entertaining, and thought-provoking plays and musicals by American and international playwrights. Since 1989, MTC Education, which uses the power of live theatre and playwriting to awaken minds, ignite imaginations, open hearts, and change lives, has also been an important part of our work.

Over five decades, MTC has grown from a small off-off-Broadway showcase into one of the country’s most prestigious and award-winning theatre companies, creating approximately 600 world, American, New York and Broadway premieres. Our productions have earned 7 Pulitzer Prizes, 28 Tony Awards, 50 Drama Desk Awards and 49 Obie Awards amongst many other honors. Our Broadway home is the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street) and our two Off-Broadway theatres are at New York City Center (131 West 55th Street). MTC is an anti-racist organization that respects and honors all voices and upholds the values of community and equity.


Chris Jennings BIOGRAPHY

Executive Director Chris Jennings is an arts leader and theater producer with over 30 years' experience within both the non-profit and commercial sectors.

Jennings arrived at Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) in 2004 as it broke ground on Sidney Harman Hall in downtown Washington, D.C. He has developed commercial partnerships and high-profile international collaborations that The Washington Post hailed, observing that STC had “seized the crown as the region’s best importer of high-end drama.”

During his tenure, STC launched District Shakespeare, a model accessibility program providing every 10th grader from all 53 D.C. schools the opportunity to experience Shakespeare live on stage.

Jennings is currently leading a mixed-use real estate project, The Bard, to consolidatesupport facilities including acquisition of artist housing with an anticipated groundbreaking later this year.

He has served on the Boards of the Theatre Communications Group, Theatre Washington, D.C. Downtown BID, THE ARC Community Center, D.C. Arts Collaborative, and the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association, and is a member of the League of Resident Theatres (where he has served on AEA and SSDC Negotiating Committees).

 Jennings has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Mid Atlantic Arts Council, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He previously served as General Manager of Trinity Repertory Company (1999–2004) and Theatre for a New Audience (1997–1999). Jennings has also held positions with Yale Repertory Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Dougherty Arts Center.

A recipient of an Arts Administration Fellowship from the NEA, Jennings earned his BFA in Theatre/Music from the University of Miami and his MFA in Theatre Management from the Yale School of Drama.

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