NEW CTG DIRECTOR AIMS FOR THE WORLD.Byline: Evan Henerson Theater Writer
Capping off a yearlong international search, the Center Theatre Group's board of directors has named a successor to Artistic Director Gordon Davidson - CTG's only artistic leader in its 36-year history.
Michael Ritchie, 45, producer of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts since 1996, will take over the top administrative position at CTG CTG Cartridge
CTG Center for Technology in Government (SUNY, Albany, New York)
CTG Center for Technology in Government
CTG Computer Task Group (IT consulting company; Buffalo, NY, USA) , which includes the Mark Taper Forum The Mark Taper Forum is a small thrust stage with 745 seats at the Los Angeles Music Center built by Welton Beckett and Associates. It has presented innovative plays since 1967. The world premiere of Angels In America was produced here. , the Ahmanson Theatre The Ahmanson Theatre is one of the four main venues that comprise the Los Angeles Music Center.
Through the generosity of philanthropist Robert H. Ahmanson, construction began on March 9, 1962. and the new Kirk Douglas Theatre The Kirk Douglas Theatre is located in Culver City, California and in 2004, was acquired by the famed Center Theatre Group. The theatre is the most intimate of the groups 3 stages and seats 317 patrons at max occupancy. .
Ritchie steps in effective Jan. 1, 2005. Davidson will program CTG's three 2004-05 seasons and will continue to serve as a consultant for three years under the title Founding Artistic Director.
Ritchie was the lone candidate of the three finalists - which also included Trinity Repertory's Oskar Eustis Oskar Eustis is the artistic director at the Public Theater. Previously he was the artistic director of Trinity Rep. Eustis is best known as a developer of new plays. Two plays that he helped develop, Angels in America and The Kentucky Cycle, won Pulitzer Prizes. and Gregory Boyd of the Alley Theatre The Alley Theatre is an indoor theatre in the city of Houston, Texas, and hosts two stages. The main stage has 824 seats and is called the "Hubbard"; the more intimate, 310-seat stage, is the "Neuhaus." Nine towers and open-air terraces give the Alley Theatre a castle-like quality. in Houston - who wasn't himself a director. Ritchie was a professional stage manager for 15 years before being appointed producer at Williamstown.
Under his administration, Williamstown has developed several premieres and sent numerous productions to Broadway and off-Broadway. The company produces 11 plays during its annual summer season, frequently attracting Broadway and Hollywood celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, Olympia Dukakis Olympia Dukakis (born June 20, 1931) is an Academy Award-winning American actress.
Dukakis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to Alexandra Christos and Constantine Dukakis, Greek immigrants to the United States. and Blythe Danner Blythe Katherine Danner, born February 3, 1943 in Philadelphia, United States, is an Emmy and Tony Award winning American actress. She is also the mother of actress Gwyneth Paltrow. .
Ritchie is married to actress Kate Burton, and the couple have two children. Burton, daughter of the late Richard Burton, has appeared in two CTG productions: Tom Stoppard's ``Arcadia'' at the Taper and ``Jake's Women'' at the Doolittle Theatre.
Charles Dillingham, CTG managing director, said that Ritchie's development work at Williamstown made him an attractive candidate. Under Ritchie's guidance, WTF WTF - who/what/why the fuck? The universal interrogative particle. Also WTH. has introduced or expanded new play development and scholarships for disadvantaged students.
``Those were two things that were important to us,'' said Dillingham, who will continue to be in charge of CTG's financial and administrative duties.
According to CTG Board President Richard Kagan, Ritchie's desire to have CTG import and export shows internationally also worked to his advantage.
``He would like our theater to be world theater, and his vision met our vision head on,'' Kagan said of Ritchie. ``We believe that Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the world. He believes you don't just necessarily do plays in your community. He also wants to make sure we're developing artists and playwrights so our theater exports around the world.''
Davidson, who, Dillingham says, was intimately involved in the selection of his successor, built the Taper into one of the leading theaters in the nation. Productions originating at the Taper have won three Pulitzer Prizes and 18 Tony awards.
Davidson, who plans to direct theater and opera productions, was not available for comment Monday. In a prepared statement, he said Ritchie's ``wonderful next step'' holds great promise for L.A. audiences.
``I will be handing over a theater full of talented artists and administrators and a very healthy organization,'' Davidson said. ``I wish him the very best, and I know I'll be sitting along with our patrons and audiences cheering him on.''
Evan Henerson, (818) 713-3651
Michael Ritchie is the new artistic director of the Center Theatre Group.