Cincinnati Playhouse Artistic Director retiring - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Cincinnati Playhouse Artistic Director retiring

Edward Stern (Source: Cincinnati Playhouse) Edward Stern (Source: Cincinnati Playhouse)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The man who has overseen the Cincinnati Playhouse in Mt. Adams for the nearly 20 years is leaving his job.

The Playhouse says Edward Stern will leave his job as Producing Artistic Director at the end of the 2011-2012 season, which will be his 20th.

Stern is giving notice more than a year in advance so the Playhouse will have plenty of time to search for a replacement.  "I am making this announcement now so that the Playhouse Board of Directors has plenty of time to create a search committee, review a broad range of applicants and choose the best candidate to move the Playhouse forward," Stern said.

Stern said he's leaving theater management, but not theatre.  "I look forward to directing regional theatre and university projects, and not to be in charge of day-to-day operations anymore. I'm ready to leave that to someone younger – but not wiser!"

Stern held his position longer than any of his predecessors.  In the last decade, the Cincinnati Playhouse has won two Tony Awards.  The first, in 2004, was for Best Regional Theatre; the second, in 2007, was for Best Revival of a Musical, for Company.

The Playhouse says that when Stern and Executive Director Buzz Ward arrived at the playhouse in 1992, the theatre had a 1. 25 accumulated debt.  Since then they've consistently been in the black, while increasing the endowment from 1 to 5 million dollars and completing an 8 million dollar capital campaign to renovate the theater.

The list of plays Stern has directed includes Othello; A Little Night Music; Wit; Of Mice and Men; Twelfth Night; Victoria Musica; One; Ah, Wilderness!; Inherit the Wind; The Little Foxes; Sweeney Todd; Someone Who'll Watch Over Me; Scotland Road; Gross Indecency and The Fantasticks.

In a 2007 interview with FOX19, Stern said he discovered his passion to work in theater in one great performance when he was a high school senior in New York City.

"I was hooked on theatre, but I never thought of doing it as a profession.  And I remember going to see this wonderful Arthur Miller play, A View from the Bridge, which I had heard of.  And it had a cast of people I didn't know: Robert Duvall, Jon Voight, this was before Midnight Cowboy, before Jon Voight was a name. It still to this day was the greatest production of American theatre I've ever seen.

"I found myself starting to hyperventilate.  I started to feel like I wasn't going to make it, and the thought occurred to me to stand up and ask the actors and the audience if we could have another intermission, so I could get my breathing back in order.  It's insane I know."

After the play, Stern went to a neighborhood coffee shop.

"And who sits next to me but Arthur Miller!  And I realized from that experience of seeing the show, and just how I viewed Arthur Miller as sitting next to a god, that this was probably the profession I was going to end up in."

Years later Stern found out that there was someone else noteworthy in that play.  "The assistant stage manager, who walked on as an extra at the end of the show, was this unknown guy named Dustin Hoffman."

Stern says though he may be tired of his administrative duties, he's always loved his job.

 "It has been an enduring pleasure to work with such a committed board of trustees and such a remarkable staff," Mr. Stern emphasized. "It has also been a joy to work with such a stellar array of performers – actors, directors and designers. After nearly two decades here, it's still a thrill.

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