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Pittsburgh Public Theater leader Ted Pappas to depart after 2017/2018 Season


For the past 17 years Pittsburgh Public Theater has been led by impresario and consummate showman Ted Pappas. His aesthetic has defined the company, his business acumen has kept the organization remarkably debt-free, his exacting standards have established The Public as one of the finest regional theaters in America, and his tireless presence at numerous performances have made him the face of Pittsburgh Public Theater. Mr. Pappas this week announced that in 18 months he will leave the company, at the conclusion of the 2017/2018 season. During his final season he will direct productions of Peter Shaffer’s Equus, Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Pittsburgh Public Theater board president Michael H. Ginsberg said, “What a great run we have had with him at the helm! He is a singular talent, and his leadership has been extraordinary. We are obviously saddened by Ted’s decision, but respectful of his wish to retire from the active management of The Public. He will always be part of the Pittsburgh Public Theater family, and has promised to stay close. I will soon be appointing a task force to work with me in searching for Ted’s successor. Thanks to his insightful management, we are well-positioned for the next decades of producing the highest quality theater possible. We will continue the tradition that Ted has instilled in us: extraordinary theater in a fiscally responsible manner.” 

At the conclusion of Mr. Pappas’ contract on August 31 2018, he will have been Pittsburgh Public Theater’s artistic director for 18 years, serving the last 15 years as both artistic and managing director. This tenure makes him the longest-serving leader in the company’s history. In addition, he was a guest director for seven previous seasons, for a total of 25 years with the organization.

Mr. Pappas came to The Public as a respected director and choreographer of musicals, and developed into one of the country’s most accomplished directors of classical theater. He introduced Greek tragedy to The Public with his stagings of Medea, Oedipus the King, and Sophocles’ Electra. His productions of the works of Shakespeare, Goldoni, Schiller, Wilde, and Shaw galvanized audiences and drew record crowds to the company’s classical offerings.

Highlights of his work as a director at PPT include Amadeus, Our Town with an all-Pittsburgh cast, The Royal Family, the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s RolePlay, and a production of My Fair Lady that broke box office records. His world premiere production of The Chief, starring Tom Atkins, remains one of the company’s most enduring popular successes. 

In his first season as artistic director, Mr. Pappas worked closely with playwright/director Alan Ayckbourn and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on their newly revised version of By Jeeves, which then transferred from The Public to Broadway. He then produced the world premiere of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s The Glorious Ones, which moved to New York City’s Lincoln Center Theater. With the addition of new productions of The Piano Lesson, Gem of the Ocean, and Radio Golf, The Public under his leadership completed August Wilson’s ten-play American Century Cycle, a project begun by Mr. Pappas’ artistic predecessors William Gardner and Edward Gilbert.

Among his most unique accomplishments is his advocacy on behalf of female directors. (Mr. Pappas is past president of the Directors and Choreographers Society, the national labor union.) In addition, his ability to rally financial support for the company has resulted in an unbroken string of seasons completed in the black.

Pittsburgh Public Theater is currently in the middle of its 42nd season. The company moved into the O’Reilly Theater, in the heart of Downtown’s Cultural District, in late 1999 and Mr. Pappas began his leadership of the company in mid-2000.

Regarding his future plans, Mr. Pappas stated, “I will continue my work as a director, but without the rigors of running a major theater company. This will afford me the luxury of spending more time with my family in Greece.” He continued, “The tremendous support, trust, and affection I have received over the years from The Public’s Board of Trustees, the company’s superb staff and artists, the city’s foundation community, and the theater’s patrons have made every day as Pittsburgh Public Theater’s leader a happy adventure.”

For more information contact Margie Romero at 412.316.8200 ext. 707 or mromero@ppt.org