Posted by Bruce Miller
Richmond CenterStage announced the hiring of Richard M. Parison Jr. as its new Executive Director in yesterday morning's Times-Dispatch. I don't know Richard yet, but I look forward to meeting him. He comes to Richmond with an extensive theatre background, having provided able leadership to some very impressive regional theatres.
For the last two years, Richard has been working as Producing Director of Barrington Stage Company, a highly acclaimed AEA theatre in Pittsfield, MA, nestled in the Berkshire Mountains. Pittsfield is minutes away from the western border of Massachusetts—actually closer to Albany New York than Boston.
Barrington was co-founded in 1995 by Artistic Director Julie Boyd. In 2004, Barrington developed, workshopped and premiered The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which Barksdale produced to great critical and audience acclaim last December. After its world premiere run at Barrington, Spelling Bee moved to Off Broadway for a run at Second Stage, and eventually transferred to Broadway, winning two Tony Awards (for Best Book and Best Featured Actor).
Stars who have recently performed at Barrington include Marin Mazzie, Jeff McCarthy and Harriet Harris. The 2009-10 Barrington Season included Carousel, Sleuth, A Streetcar Named Desire, and The Fantasticks on the Mainstage, and Freud’s Last Session and Underneath the Lintel on Stage 2.
Prior to his work at Barrington, Richard served for four years as the Associate Producing Director of the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia. Before that Richard worked for eight seasons as Associate to legendary Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard at Philly’s Walnut Street Theatre.
Walnut Street Theatre (the building) is the oldest theatre in America, having opened its doors on February 2, 1809. Walnut Street Theatre (the nonprofit regional stage company) was founded by Havard in 1982. With over 56,000 subscribers annually, the Walnut Street Theatre is the “most subscribed theatre company in the world.”
The 2010 summer musical at Walnut Street, Fiddler on the Roof, starred Theatre IV alum Mary Martello as Golde (Mary played Sally Bowles in our Cabaret and the senior military wife in our World Premiere of Four Part Harmony) and Barksdale favorite Rita Markova as Tzeitel (Rita played Cinderella in our Into the Woods and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls). The upcoming holiday musical at Walnut Street will be Irving Berlin's White Christmas, just like here at Barksdale.
During his dozen years in Philadelphia, Richard was nominated twice for the Barrymore Award in the category recognizing Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Dreamgirls at the Prince and The Big Bang at Act II Playhouse.
A native of northeast Ohio, Richard began his professional career working for six years with Gerald Freedman (Artistic Director), Victoria Bussert (Associate Artistic Director) and Anne DesRosiers (Managing Director) at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival. Another Richmond connection--Phil Crosby, Managing Director of the Richmond Triangle Players, served as the Marketing Director of the Great Lakes Theatre Festival at about the same time.
We join all of Richmond’s theatre community in welcoming Richard to town. I know his expertise and energy will add greatly to our performing arts community.