Although American Players Theatre producing artistic director David Frank is sticking around for three more seasons, the classical company announced today that he will retire at the end of 2014 and be replaced as artistic director by longtime company member Brenda DeVita.
Frank arrived in Spring Green in 1990 to take the artistic director position, and five years ago he added supervision of the business side of the theater to his duties, receiving the title of producing artistic director. The APT board anticipates splitting Frank's job when he retires and hiring a managing director to handle the business operations.
Brenda DeVita, who is married to popular APT actor and dramatist James DeVita, is an accomplished actor who took a hiatus from the stage in the '90s to tuck the couple's two children into bed every night. She joined the company's artistic staff in 1995 and was named associate artistic director in 2004.
The Iowa native's creative influence within the organization grew after Frank assumed his added responsibilities. DeVita has served as the APT's casting director, combing the country for actors capable of performing the classics at the company's extremely high level, and other assignments have included hiring directors and designers.
"Brenda has been fulfilling 90 percent of a typical artistic director's job for several years, and the results, including the recent lavish praise for APT's work from the regional and national press, speak for themselves," Frank said in a written statement.
Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout recently named the APT the theater company of the year, and he declared the troupe's summer production of "The Cure at Troy" "the best show of any kind I saw in 2011."
You can read my review of "The Cure at Troy" here.
Damien has been around so long, he was at Summerfest the night George Carlin was arrested for speaking the seven dirty words you can't say on TV. He was also at the Uptown Theatre the night Bruce Springsteen's first Milwaukee concert was interrupted for three hours by a bomb scare. Damien was reviewing the concert for the Milwaukee Journal. He wrote for the Journal and Journal Sentinel for 37 years, the last 29 as theater critic.
During those years, Damien served two terms on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, a term on the board of the association's foundation, and he studied the Latinization of American culture in a University of Southern California fellowship program. Damien also hosted his own arts radio program, "Milwaukee Presents with Damien Jaques," on WHAD for eight years.
Travel, books and, not surprisingly, theater top the list of Damien's interests. A news junkie, he is particularly plugged into politics and international affairs, but he also closely follows the Brewers, Packers and Marquette baskeball. Damien lives downtown, within easy walking distance of most of the theaters he attends.