Managing Director Michael Stotts Exits Hartford Stage. Now 2 Big Positions To Fill
Hartford Stage now has two high-profile positions to fill.
Michael Stotts, 57, who has been managing director at Hartford Stage for 12 years, is leaving to become managing director at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J.. He will be exiting his 13th season at Hartford Stage Jan. 25 but will be available for consulting for an additional two months.
Meanwhile the search goes on for a successor to artistic director Darko Tresnjak, who is leaving the not-for-profit Hartford Stage after eight years at the end of the 2018-19 season in June.. The search for the new artistic director is in its final month or two, with four finalists remaining, two of whom are artistic directors elsewhere.
Stotts arrived at Hartford Stage from a similar position he had for three years at New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre.
During the last four years of Michael Wilson’s tenure as artistic director at Hartford Stage, Stotts helped oversee projects including Horton Foote’s epic, nine-part “The Orphans’ Home Cycle” at the theater and its transfer to New York. Stotts also partnered with Tresnjak in the premiere and transfer to Broadway of the Tony Award-winning “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” and “Anastasia", which is in its second year on Broadway. “Anastasia” just launched a national tour, as well as a separate production in Madrid with another production set for Stuttgart, Germany in December.
Those two musicals will be returning royalties to the theater in the six figures for some years to come (Several Hartford Stage board members and supporters invested in the commercial shows; Stotts was also a private investor in “Anastasia.”)
Stotts also oversaw a three-phase, multi-million dollar renovation of the physical plant of Hartford Stage, updating the mechanicals of the building and the technical operations of producing. The renovation also included an elevator for access to the second floor, new seating, new backstage facilities and more patron bathrooms, among other upgrades.
He also spearheaded the acquisition off Hartford Children’s Theater and integrated it into the Hartford Stage’s Studio programs
Stotts is returning to an area where his career started: New Jersey. Prior to his arrival to Long Wharf Theatre, he was managing director of George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, N.J. and for nine years earlier he served as managing director of Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, N.J.
According to Hartford Stage board chairman David Jimenez, Albert Hall consultants will lead the search for Stotts’ successor within the next week or two. Albert Hall also heads the theater’s search for Tresnjak’s successor. Jimenez says he does not feel the Stotts resignation will affect the search for a new artistic director and anticipates the new artistic director will be part of the conversations in choosing the new managing director.
Jimenez says with Stotts remaining until the end of January, Tresnjak not leaving until June and the readiness of the existing staff, he does not anticipate the need at this time for an interim managing director.
“Its been a very successful partnership working with Mike,” says Tresnjak, “as good as it gets. And given his love of musicals, it’s a logical step. I’ll miss working with him, day to day.”
Says Michael Wilson: “Mike arrived at Hartford Stage at a crucial moment in the life of the theater, providing essential and enthusiastic leadership to a capital campaign, culminating with an extraordinary renovation of the theate, dramatically expanding its public spaces and enabling the stage to transform easily between its original thrust configuration to a proscenium.”
Stotts oversees an operation that in the last tax filings — which ended in June 30, 2017 — had gross receipts of $9.1 million . His salary in that listing was $230,000.
At Paper Mill Playhouse, Stotts will be working with producing artistic director Mark S. Hoebee. The theater in the past dozen years or so has developed new musicals, some of them which moved to Broadway, including ”Newsies,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Bandstand” and “A Bronx Tale” — while other contenders have not attracted the support for a transfer, including ”The Sting,” “Ever After” and “The Honeymooners.” Paper Mill also produced the American premiere off the musicals “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “The Bodyguard.” Paper Mill will premiere a musical, “Benny & Joon” based in the 1993 Johnny Depp film this spring.
“This opportunity, which just happened in the last few weeks, gives me an chance to work with Mark in developing new musicals for the stage,”: says Stotts.
Stotts succeeds Todd Schmidt as managing director at Paper Mill. (Schmidt was named executive director of Alabama Shakespeare Festival in March.) Stotts'‘ hire is not the first time a Connecticut theater exec has a Paper Mill connection Michael Gennaro, executive director of Goodspeed Musicals, was president and CEO of Paper Mill Playhouse from 2003 to 2006.
Stotts, who is originally from Calgary, Alberta., is co-founder of the Connecticut Arts Alliance, a statewide arts advocacy organization. .