Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Petosa to remain as artistic director at Olney Theatre

OTC mainstay will not give up post at end of 2008 season

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The search for a new artistic director at the Olney Theatre Center is over with the news that Jim Petosa will remain in that role.

Theater officials announced last June that Petosa would end his 15-year tenure as after the 2008 season to pursue other endeavors. He has been splitting his time between Olney and Boston, where he has been the director of Boston University’s School of Theater since 2002. Stepping down from Olney Theatre Center would have allowed him to spend more time in Boston.

Motivated by critical and financial success of the 2008 season and the hiring of new Amy Marshall as managing director, the theatre’s Board of Directors requested that Petosa reconsider his decision to leave at this time in the theater’s growth.

‘‘Jim is one of the most talented artistic directors in the country,” Board of Directors President George Brown said in a prepared statement issued this week. ‘‘He is a tremendous artist with great leadership skills and we are delighted that he will be continuing with us.”

Petosa agree that it made sense for him to stay.

‘‘I am energized by the board’s unexpected invitation to continue as artistic director of Olney Theatre Center and by the growing and excellent partnership with Amy [Marshall],” Petosa said. ‘‘It is a new chapter in the life of this theater, and I am pleased to serve as its artistic leader for this next phase.”

Marshall said she is equally thrilled by the news.

‘‘I could not be happier about Jim reconsidering his decision to step away,” she said. ‘‘I am delighted that our collaboration will continue; it allows me an opportunity to learn from his experience and wisdom. It is also inspiring to know that our productions will continue to be of the highest quality under Jim’s leadership,” she said in a prepared statement.

Petosa’s affiliation with Olney Theatre Center dates back to 1979. He has been artistic director since 1994 and also serves as artistic director for National Players, a touring arm of the theater.

In 2002, he was appointed director of the School of Theatre at Boston University’s College of Fine Arts.

Under Petosa’s guidance, Olney Theater began a major expansion plan, the largest component being the new 429-seat Mainstage Theatre that opened in 2005.

Petosa is a nationally recognized artist. His many Olney directing credits include ‘‘Democracy,” ‘‘Brooklyn Boy,” ‘‘In the Mood,” ‘‘An Enemy of the People,” ‘‘The Elephant Man,” ‘‘The Miracle Worker,” ‘‘Copenhagen,” ‘‘The Laramie Project” and ‘‘Jacques Brel is Alive and Well & Living in Paris,” for which he won a Helen Hayes Award, the local version of a Tony Award.

Petosa has directed at The Kennedy Center, The Studio Theatre, Round House Theatre, Washington Jewish Theatre and Rep Stage, and for University of Maryland, College Park, The Catholic University of America, The George Washington University and Middlebury College.

He serves as a stage director for Boston University’s acclaimed Opera Institute and serves as executive producer of the Boston University InCite Arts Festival, an annual event in New York City.

He continues his association as one of three artistic directors of Potomac Theatre Project, now in its 21st season, its second in New York City, where he will be directing the New York premiere of Neal Bell’s ‘‘Somewhere in the Pacific” this July.