Steve Tomkins to Retire as Artistic Director of WA's Village Theatre
After 25 years of dedicated leadership, Steve Tomkins has announced his plans to retire from Village Theatre as Artistic Director, effective May 31, 2018.
This transition comes following many years of consideration and planning, and Village Theatre is also pleased to announce that long-time Village Theatre collaborator, Jerry Dixon, will be taking on the role of Artistic Director upon Tomkins' departure. Together with Executive Producer, Robb Hunt, he will continue to bring forward Village Theatre's mission to be a regionally recognized and nationally influential center of excellence in theatre.
"It has been an amazing journey," said Tomkins. "These past 25 seasons have gone by in a blink of an eye. I want to especially thank our amazing staff, our 20,000 loyal Subscribers, and friends for whom it has been a pleasure and an honor to serve."
Tomkins began his professional arts career in Seattle in 1972 as a member of The Empty Space's acting company. As a director and choreographer, he has worked at several theatres across the country as well as staged and choreographed shows with Greg Thompson Productions. Tomkins' first project with Village Theatre was in March 1987 as the choreographer of West Side Story. The very next year, he enjoyed his directorial debut with the Mainstage production of Gypsy. By the conclusion of this season, Tomkins will have directed 64 Mainstage productions - many of which he also choreographed.
Tomkins' tenure as Artistic Director began in 1993, just as construction for the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre in Issaquah began, and it became apparent that the organization was about to enter into decades of growth. "I had been serving as both Executive Producer and Artistic Director for many years," explained Hunt, "but when we began our plans to expand from our historic 200-seat theatre into a brand new 500-seat facility, it seemed like time to bring in an Artistic Director. We had been working with Steve for years, and he was already a strong voice for the organization and our artistic growth, so the transition felt very natural." Together, Hunt and Tomkins have cultivated the organization into the largest fully producing theatre in the Pacific Northwest, with five buildings in two cities, 20,000 Season Ticket holders, and an annual operating budget of $13.2 million. Their focus over the years has been to propel Village Theatre forward by ensuring that programming is accessible and appealing to audiences from all walks of life and meets the demands of the community.
In addition to his credited work as a skillful and accomplished director, Tomkins has also quietly worked in the background, fostering the development of talented young performers and directors across the Puget Sound. He has inspired beloved members of the Village Theatre family, impacting the lives of KIDSTAGE teens as well as hundreds of artistic professionals. "He raised me up right," said mentee and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Brian Yorkey. "He taught me something that has made all the difference in my career - that you'll never make something perfect, but you can always make it better, and keep making it better until the moment they drag you away and make you open the show. I owe the man everything and love him dearly."
While Tomkins has set a high bar in his tenure as Artistic Director, Village Theatre is confident that Dixon will continue the tradition of excellence while enhancing the theatre's national representation. Dixon's relationship with Village Theatre began in 2006 when he was a guest director for the Village Originals musical, Barnstormer. Since then, he has directed a wide variety of Mainstage shows, such as Show Boat, The Full Monty, and most recently, last season's original work, A Proper Place.
"Over the span of a decade, Steve Tomkins and Robb Hunt have welcomed me, so completely, that I've always thought of Village Theatre as my theatre-home," says Dixon. "Now it will become homestead to my ideas of what it means to collaborate, inspire, explore, challenge, and connect audiences to the unmatched power of live theatre!"
Outside of his work at Village Theatre, Dixon has directed at venues such as Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center, as well as performed on Broadway in shows like Once On This Island, where he originated the role of Daniel; Five Guys Named Moe; Tick, Tick... Boom!; and most recently, If/Then, which was written by Brian Yorkey. He has also worked with the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, of which Village Theatre is already an active member.
"Jerry has been a respected and beloved member of Village Theatre's community for many years," said Tomkins, "and we couldn't be happier to have him coming on board as Artistic Director. I know he will honor the mission and core of what makes Village Theatre unique, while also moving it forward to new levels of artistic growth. Combined with Robb's continued leadership, I am able to move into retirement with the confidence and comfort of knowing the theatre is in good hands."
Tomkins' retirement will officially begin on June 1, 2018 at which time Dixon will take the reins as Artistic Director. In the meantime, Dixon will be working under a consulting contract to facilitate the transition and begin planning the 2018-2019 Mainstage Season, which will be announced in early March 2018.
Based in Issaquah, WA, with operations in Everett, WA, Village Theatre is a leading producer of musical theatre in the Pacific Northwest. Producing entertaining, quality productions since 1979, Village Theatre has grown into one of the region's best-attended theatres, with more than 20,000 Subscribers and 220,000 projected total attendance each season. Through its Village Originals program, Village Theatre is nationally recognized for its contribution to the development of new musicals, having supported the development of over 160 new works to date. Village Theatre also takes pride in nurturing tomorrow's audiences through its Youth Education and Outreach programs, KIDSTAGE and Pied Piper, serving over 58,000 young people and their families annually.