Jerry Dixon has been directing mainstage shows Village Theatre since 2006, including Show Boat and The Full Monty.
Jerry Dixon has been directing mainstage shows Village Theatre since 2006, including Show Boat, The Full Monty, and the original musical A Proper Place. Courtesy of Village Theatre

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Village Theatre announced today that artistic director Steve Tomkins, who's been with the organization for 25 years, is retiring in May 2018. Beginning in June, the artistic director will be Jerry Dixon.

Village Theatre, best known for producing classic and original musicals at their theaters in Issaquah and Everett, has been around since 1979. Their current production is Into the Woods, playing in Issaquah through October 22. Then the production moves to Everett, where it runs from October 27 through November 19.

Outgoing artistic director Steve Tomkins, whose first project with the theater was choreographing West Side Story in 1987.
Outgoing artistic director Steve Tomkins, whose first project with the theater was choreographing West Side Story in 1987. Courtesy of Village Theatre

Some 150 new musicals have been workshopped at Village Theatre to date, including Next to Normal, which went on to win several Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book and lyrics, says Tomkins "raised me up right. He taught me something that has made all the difference in my career—that you’ll never make something perfect, but you can always make it better, and keep making it better until the moment they drag you away and make you open the show. I owe the man everything and love him dearly."

Tomkins will have directed 64 mainstage productions, many of which he also choreographed, by the end of this season. He began as artistic director in 1993, just as construction on the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre in Issaquah began. Village Theatre describes itself as "the largest fully producing theatre in the Pacific Northwest, with five buildings in two cities, 20,000 season ticket holders, and an annual operating budget of $13.2 million."

Dixon says, "Over the span of a decade, Steve Tomkins and [Village Theatre's executive producer] Robb Hunt have welcomed me, so completely, that I’ve always thought of Village Theatre as my theatre-home. Now it will become homestead to my ideas of what it means to collaborate, inspire, explore, challenge, and connect audiences to the unmatched power of live theatre!"

According to a statement provided by the organization:

Dixon’s relationship with Village Theatre began in 2006 when he was a guest director for the Village Originals musical, Barnstormer. Since then, he has directed a wide variety of mainstage shows, such as Show Boat, The Full Monty, and most recently, last season’s original work, A Proper Place...

Outside of his work at Village Theatre, Dixon has directed at venues such as Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center, as well as performed on Broadway in shows like Once On This Island, where he originated the role of Daniel; Five Guys Named Moe; Tick, Tick… Boom!; and most recently, If/Then, which was written by Brian Yorkey. He has also worked with the National Alliance for Musical Theatre, of which Village Theatre is already an active member.

Tomkins says, "Jerry has been a respected and beloved member of Village Theatre’s community for many years, and we couldn’t be happier to have him coming on board as artistic director. I know he will honor the mission and core of what makes Village Theatre unique, while also moving it forward to new levels of artistic growth. Combined with Robb’s continued leadership, I am able to move into retirement with the confidence and comfort of knowing the theatre is in good hands."

Village Theatre's 2018-2019 mainstage season will be announced in early March.