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Marini resigns as Playhouse director

Vincent Marini will leave as Flat Rock Playhouse creative artistic director on May 31, the Playhouse announced. Vincent Marini will leave as Flat Rock Playhouse creative artistic director on May 31, the Playhouse announced.

The Flat Rock Playhouse announced today that producing artistic director Vincent Marini will step down on May 31 to pursue new opportunities. Lisa K. Bryant, currently Flat Rock Playhouse associate artistic director, has been named interim artistic director.

 

"Over his five years as producing artistic director, Vincent Marini has led Flat Rock Playhouse to new levels of artistic excellence while weathering the major challenges of the recession economy," Clifford Stalter, president of the Flat Rock Playhouse board of trustees, said in a news release. "We greatly appreciate his leadership and creative brilliance."

Bryant will take over as interim artistic director on June 1. "We are delighted that Lisa has agreed to take on this responsibility," Stalter said. "She has had 20 years of artistic accomplishments at Flat Rock Playhouse and will help ensure a smooth transition."
The Playhouse board will conduct a national search for a new artistic director.
Marini joined Flat Rock Playhouse full-time in September 2009. Since then, he has overseen many of the theatre's most celebrated shows, including the critically acclaimed Les Miserables, Evita, A Few Good Men, The Buddy Holly Story, Twelve Angry Men, Cats, The 39 Steps and many more. He also has continued the Playhouse's proud tradition of producing new work with Music of the Night, Our Show of Shows, My Favorite Things, My Own Song, and the most successful new show in Flat Rock Playhouse history, Zelda: An American Love Story. During his tenure the Playhouse set records for annual ticket sales and contributions.
Under Vincent's leadership, the Playhouse also conceived and opened the 250-seat Playhouse Downtown on Main Street in 2011, which now brings over 35,000 visitors annually to downtown Hendersonville. The Playhouse Downtown's flexible layout and unique design have made it a favorite among Playhouse patrons and artists alike. The Playhouse Downtown also hosts the popular Music on the Rock Series which Marini developed in 2010 to match-up local musicians with nationally renowned singers. The series has produced over 40 concerts since 2010 to an audience of close to 40,000 patrons.

"There are a number of opportunities Erin and I are looking at," Marini said in an interview. "I have not really had any time off for the last five years and I'm going to take some time once I'm finished at the end of August and spend time with my family and figure out what's next. The first thing I want to do is take a break.
"I've been thinking about making a transition for the past three or four months. I consulted with the board and talked to a number of people about what I wanted to do and what was best for my family. It just got to the point where workload is just extraordinary. I can't work 100 hours a week and not have an impact on family and friends. I needed to make a change."
Marini said he had been communicating consistently with the Board of Directors and executive committee about his desire to resign as the creative director. He will stay on to direct "The Last Five Years" at the Playhouse Downtown and "Miss Saigon," the second of back-to-back summer musicals. The apprentice program, which Marini often cites as among the best in the nation, continues to be a model for educational excellence. He'll continue to direct this summer's class of aspiring actors.
Marini has been credited for bringing Broadway quality to the stage. He expanded the YouTheatre's class offerings and guided improvements in everything from social media reach to sound and lighting. Yet his tenure has been anything but smooth. When the theater lost money in 2011 and was in danger of going under a year later, critics blamed Marini for decisions on play selection, opening the second venue downtown and levels of spending. By the end of 2012, at the lowest point of the theater's financial crisis, more than two dozen longtime employees and veteran Vagabonds — founder Robroy Farquhar's coinage for the acting troupe that started out performing under a circus tent — had left the Playhouse, including the three-member management team that had operated the theater between the death of Robin Farquhar and Marini's arrival.
"That's probably one of the best things that's happened to the Playhouse," Commissioner Larry Young said of the artistic director's departure. "I just think that he was the wrong man for the job. They had people that could do the job better and cheaper."
Asked whether he meant that Marini had spent too much money, Young said, "He did up until they hired an administrator because he was spending more money on plays that they were bringing in. That's the thing I presented to them that time in my office, when we had Jeff Miller and Bill Moyer and everybody meeting here. I said that was exactly what they needed to do — hire somebody for the business part and let him do the play directing."
Not that Young has been pleased with play selection either.
"He wanted a New York style thing, and Flat Rock is not that," Young said. "It's a small town opry, or whatever thing you want to put on it. I think they can function just as well without him as they can with him."
Commissioner Michael Edney, who did more than any board member to save the theater when he used a parliamentary maneuver to delay a decision to withdraw a $50,000 contribution, delivered a spirited rebuttal to Young.
"Vincent Marini is one of the primary reasons the Flat Rock Playhouse was able to survive the severe economic downturn of the past several years," Edney said in a statement. "His development of the Main Street venue has given the Playhouse a second wind and expanded its influence and touch from Flat Rock to all of Henderson County. I am grateful to and express my heartfelt thanks to Vincent and his family for the chapter they have written in the 62-year history of the Playhouse and Henderson County as a whole."

"I have tremendous faith in the remaining staff and board and see a bright future ahead and I know the Playhouse's $14 million dollar per year local economic impact will continue to grow."
Board members said Marini's departure was his decision. They have defended Marini's leadership, pointing out that he came on board during the deepest trough of the recession when the theater was saddled with the new debt payments for construction of the Robin R. Farquhar YouTheatre Education Center.
Marini and his wife, the actor and singer Erin Mosher, would like to have a second child, he said, and Mosher would like to pursue a master's degree.
The decision to resign as creative director "has been the most difficult decision of my life," he said. "I love the Playhouse. I have never really loved a job as much as I love this one. But looking at where I am now and where I want to be, looking at what kind of father I want to be and what kind of husband I want to be and also what I want ultimately out of my career, it was just the right time."
"I am so very proud of all that we have accomplished together at Flat Rock Playhouse," Marini said in a statement contained in a news release. "My wife Erin and I love everything about the Playhouse and this incredible community. It has been the greatest honor of my life leading this institution, and no matter what comes next for us, we will always carry the Playhouse, its staff, board and patrons in our hearts."
"I have been considering this decision for several months, and now that most of the preparation for the remainder of the current season is complete, it is the right time for me to step down and let the new artistic team create a 2015 season that will be their own. I have tremendous confidence in Lisa Bryant to help make this a smooth transition. I am truly looking forward to being here to direct Miss Saigon and then having the chance to pursue a range of new creative opportunities. We will continue to be strong advocates for this theater and this community wherever we go and I could not be prouder of what the staff, the board, the donors and the volunteers of this theater have accomplished over the last five years."
Bryant began her career with Flat Rock Playhouse as an apprentice in 1994. Since then she has played a myriad of roles including intern, actor, teacher, writer, apprentice director and associate artistic director. She is currently directing Paige Posey and Scott Treadway in the 2013 Tony Award-winning comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and is preparing to direct My Fair Lady, the next show.
Hillary Hart will continue to serve as Flat Rock Playhouse managing director.