Fact: In ten years, Intiman's artistic director Bart Sher has become an American theater colossus. Love him, hate him, or both, the man has made an international-caliber career by keeping one foot planted in Seattle and letting the other hop around the map: directing August Wilson at the Lincoln Center, opera in Baden-Baden and the Met, musicals on Broadway.
During that time, he's won a Tony, Intiman has won a Tony, and Bart got himself a glowing, long profile in the New York Times Magazine.
It's an old and sour saw in Seattle theater: the shortest route from the fringe to the big stages is through New York. (Local legend says some local actors have even taken NYC cell phone numbers just to create the illusion of bi-coastalism.) But Sher, perhaps Seattle theater's greatest success story, gives that line the lie.
While other ambitious directors have bounced in and out of town during their scramble to the top—David Esbjornson, Gordon Edelstein—Sher kept Seattle as his home base and, even when working in other cities, worked hard to assure Seattle that Intiman was still at—or at least near—the center of his attentions.
(And, despite much criticism and speculation and hand-wringing, he meant it. During his 10 years in Seattle, Sher directed 16 productions at Intiman, many of them excellent: his eerie and moving Richard III; his taut and unusually, pathetically funny Uncle Vanya.)
Now Sher's finally leaving, having named successor Kate Whoriskey (an entrance interview with her—with asides by Sher—here).
Tomorrow night, Intiman is throwing a party to honor Sher and say goodbye. The Bash for Bart is also a fundraiser for Intiman, with food by Tom "T-Dogg" Douglas, a concert by Broadway star Kelli O'Hara (A Light in the Piazza, South Pacific), a lecture about Sher's direction by theater genius Laurence Ballard, and a farewell address by the big man himself.
Tickets aren't cheap ($150 to $2,500), but this will be a big night for Seattle—the end of one regime, the beginning of another.