December 16, 2010
Contact: Heather Nowlin
PIONEER THEATRE COMPANY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR CHARLES MOREY TO RETIRE AFTER 28 YEARS
Charles Morey, Pioneer Theatre Company’s Artistic Director since 1984, announced today that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season. At his retirement, Morey will have led the local Equity theatre for twenty-eight years, more than half of the theatre’s 50-year history, and will be the longest-tenured sitting artistic director in any major American regional theatre.
“I wanted to give the theatre’s Board of Trustees and the University enough time to implement an orderly succession plan,” Morey explained, “and that’s why I’m announcing this decision eighteen months before I leave.”
“We have been extremely fortunate to have had Chuck Morey lead Pioneer Theatre for all these years,” commented Board Chairman Jim Macfarlane. “As I have become more involved with the theatre, I’ve had ever-increasing admiration for Chuck and the job he has done. As Artistic Director, he has selected plays season after season which have met the ever-changing demands of a large, very diverse audience, while at the same time introducing us to new and sometimes challenging plays. As a producer, he always made certain that the quality of the work was absolutely first-rate. And as a writer, he wrote plays, like this season’s Dracula, which were among the biggest hits in the theatre’s history. He has set a very high standard for those who will follow him.”
University Associate Vice President for the Arts Raymond Tymas-Jones also praised Morey. “Over the years, hundreds of students in the actor-training program and other programs of the University’s Theatre Department got their first professional job from Chuck,” commented Tymas-Jones, “and many of those received their Equity card from him. Many more benefited from taking the ‘Introduction to the Professional Theatre’ course he has taught every year for the past decade. The University will be very sorry to lose him, and his shoes will be very big shoes to fill.”
While Morey will step down as Artistic Director on June 30, 2012, he plans to continue working as a freelance director and playwright. “I love directing, and there are several ideas for plays I want to develop,” Morey said, “and I look forward to the opportunity to focus on those projects. But I’ve had absolutely the greatest job in the world over the past twenty-six years. I genuinely believe we have the finest production staff in the country; they routinely make miracles happen seven times a year. I am keenly aware that they have made me look good, maybe better than I am, for twenty-six years. I have also been very fortunate in working for the past twenty years with a Managing Director, Chris Lino, who has shared my vision for the primacy of artistic quality.”
“Twenty years ago this month I first met Chuck to talk about joining him at PTC,” said Managing Director Chris Lino. “I was impressed then by the fact that he had an absolutely clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish here. He wanted always to improve the quality of the work on stage, and to raise PTC to the level of one of the finest regional theatres in the country. He wanted to pay actors and other theatre artists a good living wage. He wanted to broaden the types of plays we did. And he wanted to contribute something to the American theatre by developing new plays. Twenty years later, he can check all of those goals off his list. In a field where very few people accomplish one or two long-term goals, he’s achieved everything he’s set out to do.”
In between preview performances of the Broadway musical Spiderman, in which he is starring, actor Patrick Page commented on Morey’s career. “Chuck Morey gave me my first professional job as an actor, so one might think me biased, but I can say in all honesty that wherever I go—in New York or around the country—Chuck Morey and Pioneer Theatre Company are spoken of with respect, admiration, and affection. Few people in the American theatre can match the sheer volume and consistent quality of his work as a director and a playwright. He has directed scores of productions and produced hundreds more. His stage adaptations of classic novels likeDracula and The Three Musketeers are among the best in the world, and I rank his original comedy Laughing Stock right alongside Noises Off as a perfect model of the genre. As a director, Chuck possesses the qualities one always hopes for and rarely finds—a strong artistic vision combined with spontaneity and a willingness to experiment and take risks. On top of it all, Chuck makes the process fun. I am in awe of his discipline, integrity, talent and passion, and I am grateful that he took me under his wing when I was beginning my career. I unreservedly count him among the finest theatre artists in the country.”
Since his appointment as Artistic Director in 1984, Morey led the drive to fully professionalize the theatre by signing the theatre to its first LORT (League of Resident Theatres) contract with Actors’ Equity, the national stage actors’ union. He has produced close to two hundred productions for PTC, commissioned over a half dozen new plays and produced fourteen world premieres and the Utah premieres of dozens more. During his tenure, he directed over eighty productions for PTC, ranging from new plays such as Touch(ed) to the regional premieres of Les Misérables and The Vertical Hour. He has written nine plays, all of which premiered at Pioneer Theatre Company and most of which have gone on to productions at major professional theatres across the country such as Denver Center Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre Center, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare and Company, Meadow Brook Theatre, Arvada Center, Creede Repertory Theatre, Peterborough Players, Elm Shakespeare Company, PCPA Theaterfest, Sierra Repertory Theatre and others. His adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula recently played simultaneously at Pioneer Theatre Company and the Denver Theatre Company and will be produced next May by LA Theatreworks. His other plays include adaptations of The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, A Tale of Two Cities, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Ladies Man. His original plays include Dumas’ Camille, The Yellow Leaf and Laughing Stock, nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association Steinberg award and winner of the New Hampshire Theatre Critics “Best New Play” and Sarasota Herald Tribune’s “Reader’s Choice” awards. He has recently been commissioned to write a new adaptation of Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro for The Pearl Theatre Company in New York City. He was a Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce “Honors in the Arts” honoree; was a founding member of the Utah Arts Endowment; has served as both a panelist and on-site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts and on the Board of Trustees of the National Theatre Conference. He is a fellow of the McDowell Colony.
During Morey’s tenure, the theatre has grown its operating budget from $1.2 million to $4.9 million while eliminating its long-term debt. It has achieved balanced operating budgets in eighteen of the past twenty years and built its endowments to $3.8 million. The theatre also undertook a $5.5 million renovation and expansion of the Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, completed in 2000, and is currently completing a $2.6 million project to build and own its own guest artist housing; that project will be completed in the summer of 2011. The Pioneer Theatre Company New Play Initiative is now in its third year and has featured a series of readings of new plays by important young playwrights, two commissions and the full production last season of the world premiere of Bess Wohl’s Touch(ed), which has been optioned for Broadway; and the upcoming world premiere of Ms. Wohl’s In.
Morey’s colleagues around the country congratulated Morey and his career and wished him well. Steve Woolf, Artistic Director of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, said, “I wish Chuck all the best in his new adventures. He has been a trusted colleague and good friend for many years. His intelligence and clear thinking have been important to me. In our many discussions about the curious world we work in, Chuck’s take has always been worthwhile and full of good guidance. Pioneer Theatre Company has been magnificently served with Chuck at the helm.”
Janet Allen, Artistic Director of Indiana Repertory Theatre, said, “Chuck’s career has been a true act of leadership in our field—a caring and enormously successful producer, a very talented writer, and a wonderful director—it doesn’t get any better than that! He is admired, respected and loved by many actors, directors and designers from across the country, in addition to many artistic directors who view his generosity and standard of quality as something to uphold. Chuck’s loyalty to Salt Lake City, to its audiences, staff and artists is an amazing legacy of commitment to and conversation with a community, which is an increasingly rare and amazing thing.”
“It’s tough to step down after spending over half my professional life here,” admitted Morey, “but it’s a good time to do so. The theatre has never been stronger, both artistically and financially. I’m pleased and grateful that I’ll be able to hand it on to my successor in such good shape.”
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Pioneer Theatre Company operates under an agreement between the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah’s only fully professional theatre, performs at Roy W. and Elizabeth E. Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, located on the University of Utah campus at 300 South and 1400 East in Salt Lake City, easily accessible by TRAX light rail. Free parking is also available and the theatre is equipped with an elevator, handicap parking, hearing assistance devices and other easy-access features. www.pioneertheatre.org