Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



New MRT Executive Director Steven Leon

Merrimack Repertory Theatre announced today that after conducting a six-month national search managed by the leading performing arts executive search firm AlbertHall & Associates, the company has hired Steven Leon to be its next Executive Director. He will join Artistic Director Charles Towers in forming the artistic-managerial partnership common in non-profit professional theatre companies. Mr. Leon is a career professional in arts management with more than two decades of experience and comes to MRT from American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, where he has been Assistant General Manager for the past six years.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Charles Towers at MRT,” stated Leon. “It’s already clear that we have similar ideas about what makes great theatre and why it takes a great organization to make it possible. I’m confident that we are going to form the kind of partnership with each other and with our patrons that will produce results worthy of MRT’s remarkable record of success. Artistic excellence, a willing and energetic board, and a city poised for growth like Lowell is an irresistible combination.”

MRT Artistic Director Charles Towers added, “I have already spent quite a bit of time with Steven and can see how strong a partnership this is going to be. Merrimack Repertory Theatre has never been in better shape, which enabled us to attract an individual of Steven’s caliber. With Steven as executive director, MRT is going to grow and prosper in ways we could only dream about a few years ago.”

MRT’s Executive Director Search Committee, led by trustee Robert J. McDonald, made its recommendation to the Board of Trustees at their bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday night, where it was unanimously approved. The Search Committee reviewed seven leading theatre professionals from around the country, choosing to interview four in person before overwhelmingly recommending Leon. Commenting on the Executive Director search, McDonald said “We are delighted to bring an experienced hand to our theatre and look forward to the new possibilities that Steven will bring us.”

Leon is highly regarded by many of the country’s leading theatre artists and administrators. Robert Brustein, Founding Director of the American Repertory Theatre and recent recipient of the National Medal of Arts from President Obama praised him, noting “Steven Leon has been one of the most devoted, hardworking, and effective administrators in ART history. His departure is a loss for ART, but a significant gain for Merrimack Rep. I wish him and his chosen theatre all the best tidings.”

Former ART Executive Director and current Executive Director of Boston’s ArtsEmerson Robert Orchard added, “Steven’s vast experience in the theatre is rare, ranging over both artistic and managerial territory. This, matched with his natural enthusiasm and considerable abilities should serve the thriving and distinctive MRT well.”

As Executive Director, Mr. Leon will be responsible for leading all institutional activities, including development, marketing, finance, Trustee activities, facilities and operations. Mr. Towers retains his responsibility for all artistic and educational activity, including the selection, creation and production of a seven-play season between September and May, and remains the spokesperson for the company’s artistic mission and vision. At the same time, Mr. Leon will be the spokesperson for the company about all institutional matters, and will serve as the company’s primary community liaison, building relationships with business and civic leaders.

Prior to his tenure at ART, Leon was Managing Director of ANTENNA, an experimental, site-specific theatre company based in Sausalito, CA from 1998 until 2004. Before that, he spent three years as Managing Director at the Pirate Playhouse on Florida’s Sanibel Island. From 1988 until 1995 he was Managing Director of the White River Theatre Festival of Vermont, which he co-founded with Stephen Legawiec. In addition to his administrative work, Leon directed many WRTF productions including The Comedy of Errors, Talley’s Folly, Sleuth, Amadeus, True West, Born Yesterday and Deathtrap. As Resident Designer, he created the lighting for over eighty shows including Jungle of the Cities, and the world-premieres of The Snow Queen and Journal of the Plague Year. He is the co-author of two full-length plays. He lived in Israel in the mid-80s where he spent three years farming grapes as a member of Kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem. Leon graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in Theatre (Directing & Lighting Design). He is married to artist Sarah Leon. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble

Mr. Leon made four separate interview trips to Lowell prior to being offered the position. He will be introduced to the community at Merrimack Rep’s Annual Meeting on June 28 and will begin his job by the start of MRT’s new fiscal year on July 1.

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